North Coast Music Festival once again took over the West Loop's Union Park for it's seventh consecutive year, further advancing it's crossover agenda in the process. The theme for North Coast, which began as a collaborative effort between local promotion and concert firms Silver Wrapper and React Presents has always been the inclusionary sense of music as a whole. Regularly placing acts like Logic and Umphrey's Magee near Bassnectar, Action Bronson and others, the fest has done much over the years to promote the idea of collaboration not often seen in the early EDM festival years. Entering another year in the park this season, things haven't changed a bit. While events like AAHH Fest, Spring Awakening and the like offer more carefully-curated lineups within a singular lane, North Coast once again proved that it can find success by carefully piecing together a lineup that appeals to everyone.
One of the hardest things as a festival though, is choosing headliners and this time around there wasn't much keeping the tie-dyed masses within the festival's walls after 8PM. Bassnectar, Odesza, Zedd, Umphrey's; it felt, similarly to many headliners at Lollapalooza, as if we'd seen them there before. For Bassnectar and Umphrey's the feeling was literal. Regardless, the days stayed packed with plenty to see and the repetitive headliners allowed a little wiggle room to take off for one of many after-parties, so there's always a silver lining.
If you missed it we're sorry, but our friend Evan Brown was on site to capture some of our experience to share with you. Experience last weekend's North Coast Music Festival for the first time or relive the experience through the These Days' lens below.
There's nothing like a good reason to ditch work early on a Friday afternoon and North Coast Music Festival came through once again to kick off its annual weekend in Union Park. Opening its gates at 3:00pm this past Friday the crowds trickled in as they hung up their work boots and tailored suits for the weekend and began a three day weekend of live music and plenty of entertaining sites. One of our local favorites kicked Friday off, and plenty got through the gates early to see Jamila Woods perform cuts from her recently released debut HEAVN. We're glad we got some soul in early on, because there was a lot of bass for the rest of the afternoon. Another Chicago native Zebo lit up the Heineken House, quite literally. The inviting white dome lured people in with intrigue alone, but kept them inside with a nonstop lineup of DJs and a captivating light show projected across the ceiling. We escaped the dark to enjoy some of the setting sunlight and catch Baauer's set over at the more secluded Coast stage. This stage turned out to be one of our favorite spots all weekend. Galantis took over the large Skyline stage just as the night set in. Offering up a light show that also happened to have some music paired with it. The highlight of the night for many was of course Juicy J, but the performance didn't offer the energy he's become known for. In fact, Juicy J performed some of his set from a stool. Don't worry, he still ran through all the hits and even hinted at a Three 6 Mafia reunion!
Day 2 started off with a good reason to get to North Coast early in the day. No re-entry be damned, there's no way we're missing Ric Wilson. After making it a personal journey to get to his first official festival stage, Ric did not disappoint one bit. Making the most of his first big-stage appearance, the Toast of the Coast co-winner offered up an inspired set that, with amazing stage presence and backing visuals, arrived as the kind of tightly-wound aesthetic thats come to be expected from this generation of Chicago rappers. Fresh off the release of his Soul Bounce EP, Wilson poured his all into the set which was an exceptional opening to a beautiful second day. Ending his performance with a rousing rendition of the EP's title track, the hip-hop crowd shuffled off to the Coast Stage where Boston native Michael Christmas plied his trade, offering up clever, punchline-ridden bars while proving that big guys can move around the stage just fine. A rising star in his own right, Christmas proved he has plenty of fans outside his hometown, commanding a dedicated a sizable crowd for his early-day set. Some time spent in the guest area and a few drinks later we emerged once again to catch Ty Dolla $ign who served up a single-packed performance that definitely did little to disappoint, and had Chicago natives Lil Durk and Vic Mensa take the stage with him, setting the bar high for the soulquarian-stylings of Atlanta's Raury who followed immediately after. With rumors swirling that the ATL native may be moving to Chicago soon, the 20-year-old crossover act injected an appropriate amount of passionate soul into his 6:30 slot which perfectly culminated with the setting sun. Under the guise of darkness, Keys N Krates gave fans a footwork-inducing hour before ceding the stage to the one and only Logic, who battled it out for the lion's share of the fans with the cult of Bassnectar, who closed out Saturday night alongside the Maryland MC. Similar to Raury and Christmas, Logic enjoys a great deal of love from the midwest, Chicago in particular, and continued to prove why he's been a favorite among locals able to peer outside the bounds of Chicago's renaissance. All in all, Saturday provided a perfect sampling of acts on the rise and at the top of their game, Chicago was lucky to have them. Afterwards? Joey Purp and Saba impressed a packed out Bottom Lounge crowd that had both looking like the superstars they're on their way to becoming. Rattling off tracks from each of their own seminal projects, Purp's iiiDrops and Saba's ComfortZone, the crowd was also treated to appearances from the likes of KAMI and SaveMoney as well as members of Pivot Gang, who helped Sabs get through some new content from his upcoming Bucket List project. The crowd stayed pressed to the stage all the way to the end and the guys further proved they are well on their way to the next level, serving as a perfect ending to a day of Chicagoans.
The final day of the festival once again started off with a familiar face as Cofresi continued to step out from the back of the stage as his own solo act with a very dope electronic drum display that was well accentuated by the accompanying lighting. A bit of a lot for an early turn up, the regular back up man for Probcause continued to prove that he is able to carve a lane unto himself outside of their collaborative process, making for an interesting and entertaining early set from yet another local with unique leanings. From there, it was wander and explore time, catching a bit of Jesse Royal which proved to be a pleasant surprise, before meandering about through acts like The Polish Ambassador, Matt & Kim and Zomboy before catching another hometowner in Wayne Williams who impressed by recalling the city's roots in house. From there, it was another entertaining if underwhelmed performance from the one and only Action Bronson before we hit Zedd on our way out. The weekend packed, by 9 o'clock Sunday we were ready to call it, and the odd lull in the center of the final day didn't do much to hold us there. All in all, another successful North Coast, but one that may be seen as a transitional year for the local mainstay.