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« The Hideout Looks Forward: The Block Party's 17th Year North Coast Music Festival (Day 2) »

North Coast Music Festival Sat Aug 31 2013

North Coast Music Festival (Day 1)

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North Coast evacuees seeking shelter by Steve Stearns

Yesterday marked the return of the North Coast Music Festival, the Labor Day weekend event that takes over Union Park for three days of music and dancing. Usually, it goes smoothly and good times are had all around. Sometimes though, things happen that can make your experience at the festival less than fun, and yesterday was one of those days. Most of us know that it rained here in Chicago Friday. At around 6pm, a rainstorm took over the city. Lightning flashed in the sky, torrential rain and strong winds rocked against buildings, people leaving work suddenly found themselves drenched and major outdoor concerts around the city were evacuated. -Justin Freeman

At around 5:30pm, the organizers of North Coast shut down and evacuated the festival due to the inevitable storm. People were apparently told to seek shelter at nearby bars, "for a little while." Nearby bars such as Cobra Lounge suddenly found themselves stuffed to capacity. Bottom Lounge found itself so packed, they had to stop admitting people. The interesting thing here being slightly overlooked is that many of North Coast's attendees are under 21 and simply can't seek shelter at a nearby bar "for a little while." As a result, I found high school kids hanging out under the stairwell of the Ashland Green Line stop to escape the rain and several other odd makeshift places because there is literally nowhere else for them to go. Maybe it's time to sort out a better evacuation plan than seek shelter at a nearby bar "for a little while."

The state of Union Park itself was in shambles. Granted it just rained and staff was busy trying to untangle an increasingly impossible situation by making sure the grounds were safe. This is fine. The problem is that no knowledgeable staff members were around to deliver information to the hundreds of people who were gathered at the front gates of the festival. Security guards were around but they had no idea what was happening.

People were allowed re-entrance to the park around 7:30 and the show was set to resume at 8. The problem then became that hundreds of people waiting to pick up their tickets at Will Call, VIP, and Press and the fact that no staff members were working any of the the box offices. At around 7:50 a few overwhelmed workers came to give the overwhelming mass their tickets.

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Muddy grounds at North Coast by Steve Stearns

I finally made it inside and the park was a mess of mud and puddles. Huge patches of land were difficult to maneuver and needed to be jumped over. Signage was unclear. Staff seemed to not have any idea what was going on or where anything was. Everything and everyone just seemed to having a bad day. North Coast can't predict the weather. That said, they do have access to weather reports. They could have better prepared for it. Everything was in disarray. Hopefully the rest of the weekend goes better.

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AlunaGeorge by Steve Stearns

I got inside and caught some acts I've been meaning to check out. I discovered AlunaGeorge from a few Disclosure songs that they guested on and was really looking forward to their set which was funky UK house that I thoroughly enjoyed. Next up, was RL Grime. I only caught the end of his set, but he had the crowd enthralled with relentless bass. He ended his set with a dubstep remix of Chief Keef's "Love Sosa."

Mac Miller was next and he continued his metamorphosis from a generic party rapper whom I generally dislike to a #based, somewhat abstract, and lyrical rapper that I generally admire. He performed heavily from his album which is proving to be his breakthrough, "Watching Movies with the Sound Off." He recently toured and had Chicago's own Chance the Rapper open for him, so that should give you an idea of what he sounds like if you're not familiar.

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Passion Pit DJ set by Steve Stearns

The night ended with Passion Pit. They were supposed to play a set, but their equipment got destroyed in the rain. They instead had a DJ set of house music while lead singer, Michael Angelakos, jumped atop the DJ rig and acted as a hype man trying to get the crowd dancing. Not the way I wanted to end my night, but not bad either. -Justin Freeman

After a lengthy dry spell in the area, rain finally decided to make an appearance in Chicago mere hours into the beginning of North Coast Music Festival.

NCMF organizers made the decision to shut down the music and evacuate Union Park around 5:30pm, during Dean Cohen's set, because of a severe thunderstorm warning. The early arrivers, who already looked like they were raging at top speed, didn't initially agree with the call and let their defiance be known by flipping the bird in any which way and chanting.

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North Coast evacuees at Bottom Lounge by Steve Stearns

Festival-goers were sent to nearby venues the Bottom Lounge and the Cobra Lounge to seek shelter and wait out the imminent storm. Once lightning lit up the sky in virtually every cardinal direction and strong, gusty winds blew heavy rain sideways, everyone understand that NCMF made the correct decision to ensure the safety of festival patrons, employees and artists alike.

But, once the storm broke and the sky cleared, a picturesque sunset served as a reminder that the night was still young, much like many of the people who were anxious to continue partying. In spite of the rain, it barely put a damper on the evening. The gates reopened around 7pm and hordes of people flooded back into the festival grounds to enjoy shorter sets from the remaining artists, until 11pm. Many people were able to sneak into the fest, as security seemed to only be concerned with what was in people's bags, not if they actually had a ticket.

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Zoogma by Steve Stearns

Zoogma's 45-minute set seemed to fly by, so it was apt that they ended it with one of their go-to song, "M10," which incorporates samples from Three 6 Mafia's hit "Stay Fly." The rest of it was a blur of the four-piece band's typical energetic, electronic sound. There was plenty of space to dance, as there weren't too many "coasties" crowded on the blacktop at the Dos Equis Stage. It was the perfect place to meet up with friends and prepare for a night of fun!

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The Werks by Steve Stearns

The Werks closely followed Zoogma. They hopped right up on stage and began tuning and setting up their instruments in order to get as much time on stage as they could. They came out swinging with a cover of Phish's "2001," from "2001 Space Odyssey." The crowd loved the jam so much, not a single person at the Dos Equis Stage wasn't grooving like a madman. Then it was time to stake out a spot for The Disco Biscuits.

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The Disco Biscuits by Steve Stearns

Those crazy improv wizards, The Disco Biscuits, were thankfully allotted an hour and twenty minutes to play, just ten minutes shy of their original set time. The crowd was thick, especially for the rather small area surrounding the Last Stand Stage. You couldn't help but draw a little excited gasp and get slightly wide-eyed when the Biscuits zapped their multicolored lasers into the crowd. They chose a pretty dancey set list, which served as a great introduction to the silly jam band for any first timers. To top it all off, they ended the night with fan favorite "Digital Buddha." The Disco Biscuits seemed to win a lot of people over that night. There was talk about their killer performance heard the entire way home.

It was a great night regardless of the minor setback. This festival will surely be one for the record books, if the weather will cooperate. -Brianna Kelly

 
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