[FESTIVAL] North Coast Music Festival 2012 Review
North Coast Music Festival took over Chicago’s Union Park last weekend as thousands of fans came to see some of the world’s top EDM acts perform their greatest hits. Labor Day weekend set the perfect stage for festival goers as the third year of North Coast was looking to be a massive success. Friday started off beautifully as the sun drenched the newly erected stages waiting for the likes of Knife Party, STS9, and Axwell to rock the house. Saturday and Sunday continued the party despite warnings of severe weather. With acts such as Girl Talk, Pretty Lights, Steve Aoki and more set to rock, the clouds decided to back off and we saw one of the only rain-free festival weekends in Chicago this summer. Special thanks to React Presents and all the other partners and volunteers who made the weekend a complete success. Read on to see the highlights from our weekend and make sure to check out all our pictures from North Coast on our Facebook page!
I had a chance to interview the Miami based DJ/producer AbdeCaf before he came to Chicago for the festival (you can read it here), so I was interested to check out the live performance. I was rather impressed with the chill wave sounds that set the backdrop to AbdeCaf’s live synth work. There wasn’t much of a crowd at the beginning of the set, but he managed to pull in a good amount of people by the finish with his upbeat stage presence. If AbdeCaf can cut the down time between tracks, he will definitely be a crowd favorite in the future.
I hadn’t originally planned on catching Michael Wayne Atha, aka Yelawolf, perform on Friday. But something got the better of me and I decided that I had to check out Eminem’s apprentice rapper. While I wasn’t very familiar with a lot(most) of his tracks, I still found myself bobbing up and down to the backtracks while Yelawolf’s flow kept the crowd growing. You can definitely hear Shady’s influence shine through in Yela’s style as the quick worded emcee grinded his way through his hour long set.
It’s great to have seen a Chicago group get big right before your eyes. Midnight Conspiracy has to be one of the hardest working groups around right now, touring non stop and working to get their name out there. Although their set at North Coast didn’t include their staple ‘Eye Live’ laser light show, they still got the crowd jumping up and down to their big, electro sounds.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, Knife Party came with the bar set high and did not disappoint their Chicago fans. This was the first time performing in Chicago for the duo, yet almost everyone there was familiar with the massive electro bangers that has put Knife Party on the map. Cranking through their hits, the crowd did not stop jumping up and down as tracks like “Bonfire,” “Rage Valley,” and “Internet Friends” brought the house down. I’m really looking forward to seeing them perform in Chicago again soon.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see more than a half hour of Sound Tribe’s closing set on Day 1. That’s just how it goes when there are so many good acts scheduled at the same time. As the crowd began to grow for the final performance of the night on the Coast stage, STS9 got the mass of people moving to their electronica jam-band sound. As painful as it was to leave, it was time for something a bit wilder to end Day 1.
Axwell was a perfect ender to a great day 1 at North Coast. With the adrenaline still pumping from Knife Party’s insane performance, Axwell immediately began pushing loud noises through the massive Red Bull speakers. And while the stage was home to some of the biggest acts of the festival, the secluded corner surrounded by trees made the stage seem that much more intimate. This intimate atmosphere lended itself to some of the better sets of the weekend, as the Red Bull stage never felt as full as it really was. One of the highlights of day 1 was hearing Axwell drop Swedish House Mafia’s new single, “Don’t You Worry Child,” to which colored flames, explosions, and plumes of smoke were all perfectly timed. All in all, a fantastic ending a a great first day of music as everyone was completely spent of energy after Axwell finished.
Beats Antique was a nice beginning to the cloudy day 2 at North Coast. The trio has some ear opening sounds which can be hard to describe at first, but the American experimental world fusion and electronic group had a great mix of tracks that brought in flavors from all over the world. Combining instruments such as a strap on bass drum and the violin, Beats Antique momentarily transported the crowd to a Middle Eastern utopia filled with dreamy music and sexy belly dancing queens.
YACHT was definitely one of the more enjoyable sets I had the chance to see over the weekend. I heard of them a couple years ago after their single “Psychic City” was featured on the Hype Machine for a bit. While their recorded music is sometimes a bit harsh for me, their live set was full of energy and the indie-pop-rock group drew in a fairly large crowd considering they were facing off against Excision. While I wasn’t as familiar with their newer tracks, I was still able to enjoy the familiarity of their sound which kept me moving throughout their hour long set.
I must have been in some sort of music haze during Tommy Trash’s set because I don’t remember much of his hour long hard-electro performance. But if there is one thing that stands out from Tommy’s afternoon set, it was his glorious hair. Thrashing up and down almost as hard as the crowd at the Red Bull stage, Tommy Trash and his hair was a perfect pick-me-up to get ready for the long night ahead.
Seeing 21 year old Stockholm native Alessandro Lindblad bring the house down was a real pleasure as he is clearly showing more and more improvements in his DJ’ing skills. These words may not have been as valid as they are now as he seemingly blew up overnight last year mainly due to his unique ability to produce catchy yet original sounding records, but not necessarily due to his ability to mix records and play them for thousands of sweat-drenched EDM junkies. A mere year and a half later since the release of his tracks “Dynamite” and “Nillionaire” and he has clearly learned a thing or two from his Swedish “big brother” Sebastian Ingrosso as the North Coast crowd went wild between him playing his own remixes of EDM hits such as David Guetta’s “Titanium,” and Starkillers and Alex Kenji’s “Pressure” to his own excellent creations such as “Years” and “City of Dreams” with Dirty South. Combined with a decent light show, smoke machines, and some minor explosions, Alesso’s set was definitely one of the highlights of the fest on Saturday!
The Pittsburgh native brought the fest to another level while closing out NCMF on Saturday causing the crowd to go into a frenzy! Highlighted by ever-changing lasers, smoke machines, balloons, confetti, and even flying toilet paper his set showcased his very impressive mixing and mash-up skills while he sampled anything from Metallica, Drake and Adele to A-Ha, Rihanna, Missy Elliot, Lil’ Wayne, and Calvin Harris. A complete music lover’s dream combined into a one massive orgasmic dance party!
Rebirth Brass Band
I was very pleased to begin day 3 of North Coast with something a bit more day friendly with the Rebirth Brass Band. A mix of super talented horn players, the RBB gave a nice change of pace to the heavy electronic lineup and offered some new sounds to kids used to heavy bass and massive drops. Props to the organizers for mixing it up and thanks to the Rebirth Brass Band for the early morning groove session.
Another great upcoming group, Van Ghost was another day act whose sound was a welcome change of pace to the festival. The Chicago natives brought together a good sized audience for their early afternoon set, swooning the crowd with their psychedelic guitars, rhythm section, and haunting harmonies. Their sound, perhaps more attuned for a crowd at Bonnaroo, might not have caught the interest of the younger EDM festival goers, but you can bet the more experienced ears enjoyed the electro break. I didn’t get a chance to stay for their whole set, but I look forward to catching more of these guys over the winter months.
Electro-dubstep duo Savoy performed an insanely hyper set on the Red Bull stage early Sunday afternoon. While the crowd began to gather for the late-afternoon artists, Savoy took advantage of all the energy and banged out some massive sounds that took the crowd by storm. Grinding through some dubstep and electro bangers, the highlight of their set had to be their new track featuring SOFI, entitled “Under My Skin.”
Modestep was another highlight of the weekend, bringing the crowd at the Red Bull stage literally to their knees and back up in the air again. The live dubstep/electronic rock group took the stage with so much energy that the crowd couldn’t help but absorb. Jumping up and down on the moniter speakers, front man Josh Friend, along with brother Tony, Matthew Curtis, and guitarist Nick Tsang, tore through their hits. With the bass on full blast, the group banged through tracks such a “Sunlight,” “Feel Good,” and “To The Stars.” Modestep was definitely not an act to miss on day 3.
Dutch master Chuckie wowed the humorous North Coast crowd (who came prepared with ‘Child’s Play’ Chuckie dolls in hand) on early Sunday evening by providing non-stop high energy beats from start to finish. Elegantly combining new and old progressive house and electro tracks (and at times a little hip-hop) to create his signature Dirty Dutch sound he had the audience cheering and jumping in unison for most of his hour long set. Taking advantage of his recent knee injury he urged the crowd to ‘jump’ for him by brilliantly mixing House of Pain’s classic “Jump Around” with his 2011 banger “Who Is Ready To Jump?” while gliding into Justice’s “Do The Dance” followed by his recent collabo with Laidback Luke and Martin Solveig “1234.” By the time he ended his set with his huge hit “What Happens In Vegas” and new summer smash “Breaking Up”, not a dry shirt was left in the house.
I have mixed emotions about Pretty Lights’ closing set on Sunday. I had been looking forward to seeing his show again since his Lollapalooza performance two years ago. However, I didn’t feel like the atmosphere was quite right for his set. It’s hard to pin point the exact reason, as other friends absolutely loved his set, but it seemed as if the Canadian producer was simply going through the motions. The light show, however, is always a crowd pleaser.
When Steve Angello took the stage at 9 PM on Sunday night he immediately had the attention of the entire adoring sea of screaming EDM fans in front of him! No big surprises here, he catered to and gained control of the crowd by playing huge Swedish House Mafia hits like “Miami 2 Ibiza” and “Save The World” while intertwining them with EDM powerhouse tracks such as Nari & Milani’s massive “Atom” and Gotye’s mega-hit “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He finished his hour-long closing set with “Greyhound” and new SHM smash “Don’t You Worry Child” naturally telling the crowd that he loves Chicago and that he’ll be back soon! You’re always welcome here, Steve!
North Coast Music Festival 2012 was a phenomenal success, and we look forward to seeing what 2013 has in store. If you missed out this year, make sure you get tickets early for next year’s festival, as North Coast will only be getting bigger and better.
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