|« Best Bets at the North Coast Music Festival||North Coast Music Festival: Saturday »|
Concert Sat Sep 03 2011
Well, we avoided the rain on Day One of 2011's North Coast Music Festival, but fest goers still suffered through a sweltering September evening. Things got sweaty once the bass started bumping throughout Union Park. Organizers of this year's NorCo fest organizers admittedly bulked up on electronic acts and DJ performers--an effort that was already noticeable after just one day with acts like SBTRKT, Wolfgang Gartner and headliner David Guetta all hitting the stage on Friday. -Katie Karpowicz
Before I even hit the festival grounds, I received a simple text from a friend that "this crowd is an odd mix." Her sentiment was spot on, since North Coast brings together a mash of ravers, hippies, hip-hop heads and everything in between. It's your best bet for seeing a guy wearing high end Nikes next to a girl wearing fairy wings while hooping. Yet one thing is obvious by the enthusiastic demeanor of the crowd; they came here to dance. -Lisa White
Chicago's own DJ duo (though only one half of the Hood was present at North Coast this year) was faced with a tough challenge on Friday--being one of the first acts to perform on the first day of a three-day fest. Attendance didn't seem to pick up until late evening on the Friday and those that did show up early didn't seem to have donned their dancing shoes yet. STV SLV rocked the decks as always, mixing pop, rock and rap hits over each other. The local mashup master also boasted an expected impressive montage of playful images that aired on the giant light screen behind him.
The typical Hood Internet party energy was present on stage but didn't seem to extend to the crowd that stood in front of it, making for an unfortunately lackluster atmosphere. -Katie Karpowicz
After I'd gotten as much I thought I could out of the Hood Internet's early afternoon set, I decided to mosey about the park. I didn't make it very far though, and for good reason. While passing the North Coast main stage, I became immediately mesmerized by Keys N Krates. The only thing I knew about these guys prior to today was that they advertised their sound as "live remixing." Now I know a bit more including one important fact: they rock, hard.
In my humble opinion, adding live drumming to DJ beats is a surefire way to kick up a performance but KNKs takes is even further with the addition of a keyboardist. Chicago thanks you for making the drive down from Canada, boys. -Katie Karpowicz
The first day of North Coast seemed to be all about accidental finds for me. My second pleasant surprise came when Auto Body hit the stage. I was literally drawn across the park by the sounds of some wicked slap bass. This Austin, TX duo manages to create electro-based tracks that encompass elements of rock, disco and 80s pop and yet wouldn't sound out of place at any late night club scene. -Katie Karpowicz
One of the more buzzed about rising stars this weekend at North Coast was the one man tribal mask wearing DJ act, SBTRKT. The UK producer (real name Aaron Jerome) took the stage sans live band, to spin an hour of his blend of tribal house and dubstep. His mix seemed a bit heavier, even grittier, than some of the slicker headliners (Guetta), and mixed with the thick heat it gave a heady sense to his afternoon set. As the crowd grew, you could tell people who were unaware of his music were being drawn in as they passed. The crowd response and intensity of his set reminded me of Flying Lotus's set last year at North Coast music fest. Despite the intense heat, people couldn't stop dancing, and no one seemed to mind. I went in with a curious notion of what SBTRKT sounded like, and it ended up being my standout set of Friday night. -Lisa White
Wolfgang Gartner's set came later in the night, just as the sun set on Union Park. As one of my most anticipated acts at North Coast this year, this DJ did not disappoint. Spinning atop a massive tower amidst a sea of neon lights, Gartner blasted through his own hits like "Space Junk" and "Illmerica" while mixing in some party tracks--big ups for working in some Fat Man Scoop. Gartner could easily be regarded as one of the most diverse DJs on the scene right now. He can get heavy and still avoid the often polarizing dubstep sounds of many of his colleagues but he still keeps the lighter, poppier end of his sets from getting too sugary.
Wolf's playful demeanor and willingness to dance along to his own tracks made for a thoroughly entertaining 60 minutes. -Katie Karpowicz
With a bit of downtime in my schedule, I decided to wander around the festival grounds and take in the sights. As we were exiting the crowd after a bit of Wolfgang Gartner's set, we spotted a couple making out on top of a passed out friend, and I at least took solace in the fact that my night at least wouldn't get any weirder than that. The layout of North Coast is similar to Pitchfork, except with the addition of a stage on the basketball courts. There are rows of tents selling everything from clothing and feather hair extensions to high tech indoor plant growing systems (clearly for your ferns and basil). There is your typical festival fair, ranging from vegan options to BBQ and funnel cake and local outpost Boiler Room serving up Jameson ice cream. In front of the food area is the Groupon silent disco, where scores of young fans tried too hard to look cool while wearing noise canceling headphones and fist bumping along.
But one of my favorite downtime activities at North Coast is people watching. There were the kids who wanted to buy drugs off of us, a barefoot Jesus looking man that was constantly spinning around with the biggest grin on his face for hours (literally, I saw him dancing the same way multiple times for hours), too many girls with fuzzy boots wearing tutus, and everything in between. It's such a festival culture that lets loose, to the point that I thought the older couple wearing normal clothes sitting in the shade stood out as weird to me. Whatever your taste in music is, the crowd seems genuinely happy that you are just there to enjoy the weekend with them. -Lisa White
Decided to round out my night with some Wiz Khalifa. Now I admit that I'm a huge fan of his breakout single, but after black and yellow it seems like the only color Wiz knows how to rap about is green. About midway into his hour-long set, listening to rhymes about little more than making money and smoking top-notch weed grew a bit tiresome. However the young MC stayed energetic throughout his performance, bouncing across the stage and his live DJ was impressive.
Day One of North Coast--the shortest of the three--came to a sweaty close as Guetta and Khalifa's sets wound down and thousands of Chicago bassheads flocked to the Lake St. el stop. Some were off to afterparties, but many, myself included, were headed home to get some rest and gear up for round two. -Katie Karpowicz