[FESTIVAL COVERAGE] Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival 2013

[FESTIVAL COVERAGE] Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival 2013

[FESTIVAL COVERAGE] Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival 2013


[FESTIVAL COVERAGE] North Coast Music Festival 2013

Labor Day Weekend in Chicago marked the 4th anniversary for the self-proclaimed “Summer’s Last Stand” as North Coast Music Festival took over Union Park as thousands of festival goers geared up for three days of music and good vibes. With eclectic headlining acts ranging from Wu Tang Clan to Purity Ring and everything in between, Chicago music lovers were in for a sonic treat. Despite torrential downpours and high winds that delayed the festival for a couple hours Friday night, the weekend weather managed to redeem itself as Saturday and Sunday saw a beautiful turnout from the sun.

Paper Diamond at North Coast Music Festival
Check out our full photo album here.

Day 1

And the skies opened up and unleashed their torrents upon us. Heavy rains and high winds put the opening day of North Coast on hold for about 2 hours as festival execs made a responsible decision to clear Union Park for the massive storm. We patiently followed their Twitter feed as we waited for the festival grounds to open back up, and when they did, we were more than ready to start our weekend.

While some artists were pushed back a couple hours, most were still able to perform. Those who returned to the festival were greeted by an opening set from AlunaGeorge who gave a great performance yet had trouble maintaining momentum with the crowd as some were looking for a more upbeat start to their night. Those people were satiated with a massive performance from Paper Diamond on the Coast Stage. Paper Diamond’s set got rained out last year at Lollapalooza, and I’m glad to see the same thing didn’t happen a second year in a row.

Rounding out the night was the indie-pop group known as Passion Pit. Unfortunately 75% of their equipment got destroyed in the storm and they were relegated to a DJ only set. The trio kept the crowd bumping and grinding, however it just seemed a bit awkward as Michael Angelakos kind of just walked around his band mates whispering in their ear when he wanted to take the mic to address the crowd.

Bondax at North Coast Music Festival
Check out our full photo album here.

Day 2

Manic Focus was the *ahem* focus of our Saturday afternoon as we got to sit down backstage and talk to one of Chicago’s rising stars. Genuine and down to earth, JMac – as I found he likes to be called – talked about his two year anniversary at North Coast, working with Gramatik and Exmag, and his new album Distant Perspectives, before he jumped on stage later that day. A solid afternoon set time saw Manic Focus draw in large numbers as he dropped bass heavy electro-funk jams to an eager crowd. A surprise appearance by Future Rock was just icing on the cake.

A quick jump over to the EDM stage saw the Bondax duo dropping an incredibly dance-y set with a mix of bass heavy dance, house, and nu disco. These kids are young, but they can throw down and had me leaving a bigger fan than I came in. But by far the hardest set time of the night came as The Knocks, Seven Lions, and Gramatik all took stages at the same time. It took a bit of running around, but we managed to catch the electro-dance jams from B-Roc and JPatt of The Knocks as well as the bass heavy tunes dripping from Seven Lions’ set across the festival.


A quick pit stop took us by Ghost Beach as we made our way to the headlining act Saturday night. The duo’s tropical grit-pop vibes were a welcome addition to the perfect summer night as they tore through audience favorites such as “Miracle” and “Tear Us Apart.” Rounding out Day 2 saw no strangers when it comes to headlining music festivals, as Big Gigantic took the stage to a roaring crowd. Clearly these two know how to put on a show by now, weaving a tapestry of sound and light that the crowd responded to with hands in the air and a sway in their hips.

North Coast Music Festival
Check out our full photo album here.

Day 3

As always, the last day of any festival began a bit slower as the weekend begins catching up to attendees, myself included. Running a bit behind, the day mended itself quickly as our first to-do of the day was an interview with reggae sensations Rebelution. It was a pleasure sitting and chatting with Eric and Wesley as we learned more about what reggae means to the group, what’s next for Rebelution, and what good movies they’ve been into recently.

With time to kill in the afternoon, I took to walking around and catching some new sounds. One of the highlights of my weekend (as I group up watching the show) was the totally unexpected cover from whysowhite of the All That theme song. In all honesty, I was walking to see another group and their take on the 90’s track stopped me in my tracks and reeled me in for the rest of their quirky, high energy set.


More walking and taking in the sights followed before returning to the North Stage to catch our interviewees of the day, Rebelution. Drawing in a massive crowd, the group tantalized the audience with hit tracks such as “Feeling Alright,” “Outta Control,” and “Good Vibes.” It was as if you could literally see the negative vibes dissipate into the air in the form of rolling clouds of weed smoke as the crowd swayed to the chilled sounds of their evening set.

wu tang at north coast music festival
Check out our full photo album here.

Of all the bands who performed at North Coast this year, by far one of the most eclectic (and one of my favorite) sets of the weekend came from indie duo Purity Ring. With a dramatized stage setup leaning heavily on impressive lighting, the Canadian duo took the audience on a journey through a musical landscape that included favorites such as “Fineshrine” and “Obedear.”

Finally, the weekend closed with what was undoubtedly the most anticipated group of the weekend. Wu Tang Clan, in all their hip-hop glory, took the stage and threw down to a crowd of open arms. We all know that Wu-Tang ain’t nuttin ta fuck wit, as the group seized control of the stage and ripped through their impressive list of hit singles including “Gravel Pit,” “Shame on a Nigga” and “Clan in da Front.” Unfortunately, weather once again interfered to cut their set short, but the crowd could not have left disappointed as GZA, Ghostface Killah, Method Man and the rest of the Wu showcased their lyrical dexterity was still well and alive after more than 20 years performing.

North Coast Music Festival is always a highlight of my summer as the eclectic mix of artists sits perfectly in tune to my varied tastes in music. The festival offers a bit of everything to attendees and if you come in with an open mind, you are guaranteed to leave with a new favorite sound or artist by Sunday night. As always, our hats are tipped to everyone involved in producing such a successful weekend, from the artists to the stage crew to you guys in the audience. See you all next year!


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Kris Hi there! Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sights and Sounds. Been doing this music writing thing for most my life in one way or another and loving every opportunity it's brought along. Shoot me an email if you have any suggestions for the website, comments, or if you just want to chat. Cheers!