Labor Day Weekend marked the 4th annual North Coast Music Festival at Union Park as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all packed with a mix of primarily EDM artists and DJs with some of hip hop's most established names, and up and comers in both genres. Let's get right into the highlights...
This was the one day I couldn't attend, but Maks G & Justin Escalona were there taking some of the photos above and bouncing around the three stages checking out act after act. Two of the night's headliners stood out: Mac Miller & Passion Pit, with the latter drawing more rave reviews from Maks & Justin.
Maks and I made it for the night's main acts: Nas, Big Gigantic, and Afrojack. First (of course) Nas, who returned to the North Coast stage after last performing at the debut edition of the festival with Damian Marley in 2010. Nas kept it simple: it was him, a drummer, and a DJ. He ran through classic after classic, only pausing to rile up the crowd for the next one. My only wish was if he dropped the beat completely at times through the set to only further showcase his flawless live delivery. I'm just a fan of a capellas in a live rap show, and if I recall correctly, I think Nas had more of those last time I saw him at North Coast. Sure enough, however, Nas provided the most chilling moment of my weekend when he came back out for an encore of "One Mic", with each verse building up upon the previous. It culminated with Nas whispering into the mic (my desired a capella of sorts) and the crowd waiting for one more intense chorus. Enter: chills. He left Chicago with these short but sweet words, "You have a voice. Be heard."
The scene on a cloudy night at North Coast for Nas
Saturday continued with a couple of big EDM/DJ acts as Big Gigantic first impressed with their live saxophone on top of recognizable remixes like the fitting Kanye West "Jesus Walks". Then we walked over a stage to Afrojack, who I liked even more as he had more of a fast, upbeat flow of songs coming one after another and ending on a premiere that I instantly liked that features some female vocals. I'll be sure to point it out when it drops. All in all, the three acts made for a great Saturday night, as Nas was Nas and Big Gigantic and Afrojack took me out of my comfort zone that proved to be a fun experience.
Justin and I got our money's worth Sunday as we got to the Fest on the early side to first catch DJs Datsik, A-Trak, and Madeon. I especially liked the latter two as A-Trak mixed in some hip hop into his upbeat set while showcasing his live skills as well, and the young Madeon (he's 18, looks like he's 13), keeping the crowd going with just enough recognizable tunes to get the crowd singing (from The Killers to Kanye's "Black Skinhead").
I then made my way across the fields for my most abrupt change in music and scenery. It felt surreal to go from a crowd jumping up and down to EDM and dance to a chill crowd hanging on every word and guitar solo from the soulful Gary Clark Jr.. There was only minor chit chat in the crowd for Gary Clark, whose live sound (especially his guitar) translated well to the festival. The moment he ended, I heard the dark sounds begin from the stage next to us, courtesy of Purity Ring (another abrupt change.)
That's one of the beauties of North Coast: all of the sets are precisely scheduled and never run late, giving the fans a unique experience of the thrilling conclusion of one artist and then the rush to see the beginning of the next artist, who almost always is a completely different genre. It's safe to say Madeon to Gary Clark Jr. to Purity Ring is about as different as you can get.
To speak on Purity Ring real quick, I became a fan of the duo with "Odebear", and now even moreso after seeing what I saw on Carson Daly earlier this summer replicated and more polished in person. The duo can transform your mood in an instant as lantern banging, light shining, and piercing vocals all combine for a very fresh and edgy sound. Look these guys up when you get a chance.
Finally, and if you read this far you won't be disappointed, Wu-Tang Clan closed out the festival like only they would. And that's with a raw mix of songs from their debut album, 36 Chambers. They naturally began with "Bring Da Ruckus" as an endless sea of people threw their "W's" up. Seriously, this was the biggest crowd of the three nights for sure. The group had the crowd going the whole time and kept it moving with no breaks between songs, save for a tribute to Ol' Dirty Bastard. They tried to fit as many songs as possible in before an impending thunderstorm was threatening to cut the performance short. That unfortunately came to fruition 40 minutes in and ending Wu-Tang's set prematurely without a fitting conclusion. The crowd was naturally upset that the set ended 15 minutes before it should have while it was only drizzling at the time, but considering it was drizzling at the start, I'm happy we got that far. Plus, the performance and my savvy to hold the record button combined for my favorite Vine ever. I don't think I can end it better than this...
Great times at North Coast all weekend long! Shoutout to React Presents for putting it all together and be sure to scroll through the slideshow (hit the arrows) for more photos: all taken by either Maks G, Justin Escalona, or myself. Until next Labor Day weekend...!
After an incredible start to the weekend Friday night I know I couldn't wait to see what Saturday had in store. The schedule for the day was filled with great acts from top to bottom and they didn't dissapoint. Things got going early Saturday with Gramatik taking the stage right around 2:15. Gramatik is getting more and more popular by the day and for good reason. His style reminds me of an old school Pretty Lights, it's always a treat to be able to catch him. I imagine it won't be too long until he is headlining festivals and shows nation wide.
After Gramatik it was time for Beats Antique. Aside from the headliners, this is the show I was the most eager to see. It was amazing and the crowd was very into it the whole time. It was during the day and it was a little chilly outside but that didn't stop people from raging with these guys. As always, Zoe Jakes was at the front of the stage doing some eye-pleasing belly dancing. Her moves along with the great beats coming from the band really got the crowd going. They are going to be in Chicago on halloween at Park West, I recommend you go check them out. It's sure to be a great show, you won't be dissapointed. During their set on Saturday the feel in the venue really started to change from daytime chillin to night time partying. When these guys were done at 4:45 everyone was ready to make in another night to remember.
The main stage evening shows began with Future Rock taking the stage at 5:45. Their set was an hour long and they stayed true to their name, rocking out the entire time. Mixing some electronic fusion with their jams it was a great show as it always is. Soon after, Swedish House Mafia member Alesso took the stage and gave all the house fans a real treat. It's always good to be able to see one of the SHM memebers throwing it down hard.
After Alesso was done it was time for the weekend's first real Hip Hop act. Atmosphere took the stage and absolutely killed it. They played all their hits and then some and the crowd was absolutely loving it. Ant was out there gettin the crowd going and Slug was laying down the vocals like only he can. This was defintiely one of the better shows of the weekend, the energy in the crowd was incredible. After Atmosphere was finished it was time for Girl Talk and Umphrey's McGee. This basically split the festival crowd in half with the electronic fans heading over to Girl Talk while the jam music fans headed to Umphrey's McGee. Either way you went it was great as both shows were phenomenal. However, Umphrey's McGee was absolutely on point all weekend. As I mentioned in my recap, their late night show was one of the best I've seen from them, and this show was no slouch either. They played some great tracks including Ocean Billy and one of my personal favorites, JaJunk.
This show was a great way to close out the second day of the festival, a day to truly remember. Check out some dope pics below from our boy Oren A Photo and the video above of Atmosphere killin it with "God Loves Ugly".
Felix Moreno of Future Rock Future Rock Mickey Kellerman of Future Rock
Future Rock Future Rock Umphrey's Bassist Ryan Stasik
Umphrey's Guitarist Brendan Bayliss Umphrey's Guitarist Jake Cinninger Umphrey's Keyboard Player Joel Cummins
Drummer Kris Myers, Guitarist Jake Cinninger, Bassist Ryan Stasik, Guitarist Brendan Bayliss, Percussionist Andy Farag,
After seein our home town boys play at North Coast on Saturday night, everyone was hungry for more Umphrey's McGee. On Sunday night at The Congress Theater, that's exactly what they got. They were back in Chicago for the first time since UMBowl III and as expected they brought the heat. From start to finish the setlist looks good on paper and it sounded good inside the venue as well. Songs ranged from fan favorites like "Booth Love" to old gems such as "The Triple Wide." All in all the band kept things up beat throughout the show, the place was a good ol fashioned dance party. It was definitely one of the faster tempo Umphrey's shows I'd been to, and it was also one of the most enjoyable. The Congress was about 250 degrees in the first few rows and that wasn't stopping people from closing out the weekend with an absolute bang. This place was rockin til the early morning. I can't wait to catch these guys in Milwaukee for Halloween, be there if you can they are gonna kill it. Check out the pics below and the video above of "The Triple Wide."
Another epic year of North Coast Music Festival is in the books, and GoWhere is the place to get the whole scoop. JPoos and I had the privilege to attend, and with us, we have brought back some very dope coverage from Friday and Saturday of the event, along with a couple late night get downs. STS9, Pretty Lights, Umphrey's McGee, Steve Aoki, Excision, Knife Party, Future Rock...the list goes on and on. Simply put, it was a weekend of unreal music, beautiful weather, party people and great vibes. Here, I have put together a slideshow with some of the best pictures of the weekend, taken byOren Amzaleg. Check them out here, and check out the rest of our coverage too! Still more to come…Peace & Love.
The expectations were set high in Chicago for North Coast Music Festival and it's safe to say that they were met and exceeded. There were reports of Hurricane Irene coming north and putting a damper on the weekend, but luckily on Friday the only thing we got was a very small drizzle. This left plenty of energy to be spent by Chicagoans to dance and party for "Summer's Last Stand." A few acts took the stage during the early afternoon but the party really got started at about 6:00 PM whenTwo Fresh and Midnight Conspiracy took to a couple of stages and began warming people up for the night. The temperature was scorching and it was as humid as hell itself but as the sun started going down during these sets you could feel the mood at Union Park changing, it was time to get down. Two Fresh was one of the more impressive undercards of the weekend with fresh hip hop remixes along with electronic beats, it made for a good warm up for the night ahead. After these guys got done settin the mood it was time for EOTO to really get things going. EOTO consists of two brilliant musicians and members of The String Cheese Incident. Michael Travis and Jason Hann have the ability to do something with dubstep that very few other artists in the scene can, improv for an entire set. Watching these two percussion gurus get down on some electro beats was quite the site to see. Along with EOTO, the final undercard of the night was Papadosio. These guys do such a great job of blending so many styles, their shows are really a fusion of everything this scene is about. For people that wanted to see some good old fashion instruments instead of the more electronic EOTO, Papadosio was the place to be. After EOTO it was time for the headliners to come out and show everyone what all of the hype with North Coast was all about. The main headliners of the night were Axwell and STS9. This gave an option to people that were there for the more electronic DJ house sounds of Axwell or the more electro-jam fusion that STS9 uses both instruments and computers to make. If you had been at North Coast the previous year, or are even somewhat into the electronic and jam music scenes then you know that Sound Tribe Sector 9 ALWAYS brings the heat. They played to the biggest crowd of the whole weekend except for Pretty Lights on Sunday, but we'll talk about that another time. They started things off with a new song of theirs, "20-12" and segued into the title track off of their newest album, "When The Dust Settles." The set also included old school Sector 9 jam, "T.W.E.L.V.E". and one of my personal favorites, "Really Wut." The show was a basically standard festival setlist for STS9 but the songs were well played. The well played songs and new innovations that lighting enginner Saxton Waller brings to the table every time made this show one of the highlights of the weekend, as STS9 always is. The first day of the festival was incredible and it was just the beginning of what was a weekend that won't easily be forgotten. Check the video above of EOTO throwin down some funky dubstep, and shoutout to our homie Oren Amzaleg over at Oren A Photo for the pics below and helpin us cover the festival and gettin some great shots. Much more to come from the weekend.
Kendrick Nicholls of Two Fresh EOTO Jason Haan of EOTO on the Bongo
EOTO Michael Travis of EOTO EOTO
STS9 STS9 Keyboard Player David Phipps STS9
STS9 Bass Player David "Murph" Murphy STS9 David Murphy and Hunter Brown of STS9
Drummer Zach Velmer, Guitarist Hunter Brown, Keyboard Player David Phipps, Bassist David Murphy, Percussion Player Jeffree Lerner
The wait is finally over for one of the most anticipated tours in the history of electronic music. Derek Vincent Smith aka Pretty Lights dropped two shows this past weekend in Colorado that were absolutely mind blowing. He blessed his home state audience with a new stage set up that includes a lot of his old LED towers along with a huge number of new lights and lasers everywhere. He even has lasers built into his DJ booth. I don't think The Illumination Tour could have a more appropriate name. There were several new tracks played that are unreleased, along with old classics. If these shows are any indication of how the rest of the tour will be then the whole country is in for a treat. He will be coming to Chicago on 9/2 at North Coast Music Festival and I simply can't wait to see it. Check the video above of him dropping his remix of Pink Floyd's "Time" at Red Rocks.... wow.
Lollapalooza is long gone in Chicago and now the minds of festival goers in should have North Coast Music Festival well on the mind. We already did a preview of the festival to let everybody know how hot the lineup is this year but one of the hottest things about it is the after parties. The promoters took full advantage of several venues all around the city and there really is something for everyone. I don't want to make a laundry list of every show, the full list of official after parties can be seen right here, I'm just going to highlight a few of the key ones.
Saturday night will feature some of the greatest music and variety one night in Chicago could possiblyi have. Saturday night will feature several different venues and artists including Dan Deacon, Felix Da Housecat, EOTO, and what promises to be the best show of the weekend, STS9 and Future Rock at the House of Blues. STS9 is currently playing in a way that long time fans of the band have spent years begging for. With new incredible lights to go along with old legendary tracks this run they have coming up is going to be one to remember. The last late night after party set they played at High Sierra festival in California was a set for the ages. They are billing this as a set from midnight to 5 AM. If you like live music and there's any way you can be there.... be there.
Sunday night continues the trend of having a variet to make everyone happy. The House of blues will feature Grizz and Gramatik doing a show together being billed as Grizzmatik. This is a highly anticipated show as Gramatik is oen of the hot up and coming artists on Pretty Lights' PLM label. In addition there will be shows by The Rapture DJs, Dumpstaphunk, and Chicago's very own Umphrey's McGee at the Congress Theater. As if you didn't have enough reason to be excited, check out the video above of STS9 from Electric Forest featuring their new stage set up that includes dual LED screens. The way Saxton Waller uses the cannon lights and both the screen behind the band and the screen in front of the band is...well.... incredible as always.