North Coast Music Festival 2011 Preview
Don’t you worry, folks. Festival season isn’t quite over yet. Dubbed ‘Summer’s Last Stand,’ the North Coast Music Festival brings a variety of artists to Chicago’s Union Park over Labor Day weekend. Whereas Pitchfork brings cutting edge and indie veteran acts alike, and Lollapalooza supplies a little bit of everything, North Coast focuses heavily on the electronica side of music. Personally, the repetitive beats and bleep-bloops of MacBooks don’t often do much for me. But there are more than a handful of acts worth catching this year. So don’t think for one minute about taking your dancing shoes off: you have the whole winter to chill indoors. Let’s go to the park one last time:
DAY ONE: Friday, September 2
The Hood Internet (4:30 / Red Bull Grove Stage) — Andrew Hertzberg
Ohh, the art of the mashup. Girl Talk seems to be the reigning king of the ‘genre.’ However, local duo the Hood Internet have their own style. Think of your favorite rapper dropping lines over your favorite indie beats. That’s what Aaron Brink and Steve Reidell give ya. They release it all on their blog and admittedly are pretty clever. They show their hometown love on The Hood Internet vs. Chicago, pairing the likes of R. Kelley vs. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Kanye West vs. Wilco and a billion other local rivalries.
Lotus (7:00pm / Red Bull Grove Stage) — Gene Wagendorf III
Veterans of numerous festivals (Bonnaroo, Ultra, Rothbury), Lotus comes to North Coast armed
with a catalogue of epic, synth-driven jams. The songs are mostly meandering instrumental jams,
perfect for those who’ve always wanted a danceable sci-fi soundtrack. The group’s tricky compositions
should appeal to everyone from Pink Floyd fans to electro aficionados. Here’s a video for “Blacklight
Sunflare” from Lotus’ soon to be released self-titled record.
Midnight Conspiracy (9:00 / Magic Hat Local Stage) — Andrew
I’m just going to say flat out that dubstep isn’t really my thing. Tolerable in small doses, but nothing to build a set around. That said, I’ve gotta give Midnight Conspiracy some credit. Another local duo, they seem to have blown up in an absurdly short time period. I feel like I’ve seen their name at every club in the city, they’ve played all around the country and have already rocked outdoor parties at Wicker Park Fest and Lollapalooza. Definitely an act to lend an ear to if you haven’t already.
(Bonus: Both the Hood Internet and Midnight Conspiracy are playing an after show at Bottom Lounge that night).
Wiz Khalifa (9:00pm / Red Bull Grove Stage) — Gene
Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa rolls into North Coast on the heels of a lot of buzz. Chicago, here’s your
chance to see if he’s legit. Possessing a tight combination of swagger, style and skill, Wiz spits catchy
party anthems and blows slow, smokey tunes that recall the best of vintage Snoop. I may not know
much about hip hop, but I know enough not to miss this. Check out the weed-fueled, foul-mouthed
(you’ve been warned) video for “On My Level” from Wiz’ 2011 release Rolling Papers.
DAY TWO: Saturday, September 3
Rubblebucket (1:30 / The Named After Groupon Stage) — Andrew
Hands down, Rubblebucket’s Omega La La is one of my favorite albums of the year. The Brooklyn 8-piece makes generally upbeat, brass heavy music that’s hard to describe concisely. There are times of funk, times of psychedelia, times of pop. They first caught my attention with a far out cover of the Beatles’ ‘Michelle’ and have only continued to confuse me aurally. Make sure to get to their early set on Saturday.
RJD2 w/ Break Science (3:30 / The Named After Groupon Stage) — Andrew
Unfortunately Neon Indian had to cancel their set (after being one of the first artists announced no less), but the good people at NCMF got quite the replacement. Ramble John Krohn is a much needed veteran act to a fest devoted to new music. Having started off in the cut and paste realm a la DJ Shadow, he has since begun experimenting with live instruments. A former member of both Definitive Jux and XL, RJD2 is as close to a more conventional songwriter you can find in the electronica realm. If the video below is any indication, he’ll be manning the tables with Break Science rocking keys and skins behind him.
Common (7:30pm / The Named After Groupon Stage) — Gene
Fresh off a trip to the White House to visit with fellow Chicagoan President Obama, slick rhymester
Common is sure to put on a show at North Coast. Touring in support of his forthcoming album
The Dreamer, The Believer, Common has all but cemented his status as a hip hop icon. His social
conscience is on full display in his lyrics, preferring references to the likes of Assata Shakur over those
that recall sexual exploits and violence. His grooves harken back to soul’s heyday, allowing Common
to be the unique performer who is moving his medium forward while paying his respects to its past.
Here’s the video for the Grammy-nominated song “The Light” from 2000’s Like Water For Chocolate.
Team Bayside High (9:00pm / Magic Hat Local Stage) — Gene
This Chicago DJ duo has been throwing parties around the Windy City for a while, hosting madness at
the likes of Debonair, Metro, Evil Olive and Lolla 2010. Relying on familiar tunes infused with their
signature catchy beats, Team Bayside High takes crowds on booty-shaking romps through the hits
of the ’80s ’90s and beyond. Admittedly making an effort to get everyone dancing and “hating their
Tuesday morning,” these two have achieved near legendary party status. Here’s a brief profile on the
band from the Chicago Music Project that features both Bayside’s music and lovable personalities.
DAY THREE: Sunday, September 4
The Budos Band (3:30 / The Named After Groupon Stage) — Andrew
For whatever reason, it looks like Sunday is the rock day. And I still use that term loosely. Maybe the least electronic day? The Budos Band certainly stands out at this fest. If you’re looking for a fix on afro-soul and jazz inspired jams, these are the guys to check out. Not to mention also one of trumpeter Andrew Greene’s favorite bands is Black Sabbath. Needless to say, if you’re tired of DJs and want to see some real people playing real instruments, go see the Budos Band.
Little Dragon (5:30 / The Named After Groupon Stage) — Andrew
No music festival is complete without me getting my Swedish fix. Having seen Little Dragon before, I can’t say enough how tight they are live. Sweden has been cranking out some great pop bands in recent years (Peter Bjorn and John, Jens Lekman, Lykke Li…), but Little Dragon almost finds their musical home closer to NYC downtempo. It gets a little jazzy, and their mellow sounds on Sunday afternoon will be a welcome break from the nonstop dance party the rest of the fest seems bent towards.
Of Montreal (6:30pm / Gold Coast Stage) — Gene
What can I say about Of Montreal that hasn’t already been said? Do you like parties? Do you like
dancing? Do you like crazy theatrical stage shows and infectious psychedelic jams? Of course you
do. Anyone holding a ticket to North Coast who doesn’t check out these Athens, GA art-rockers is
doing themselves an unforgivable disservice. Lead singer Kevin Barnes combines out of this world
costumes, David Bowie’s swagger and an incredibly sincere lyrical approach to create the perfect glam
rock persona. Add a band that plays a genre(gender?)-bending swirl or bliss pop and you have the
legendary live show that Of Montreal is known for. If the world was ending and I had the chance to
book one band to bounce us all into oblivion, this is it. Enjoy this live clip of “A Sentence Of Sorts In
Kongsvinger” and get ready for fun!
Gogol Bordello (7:30pm / The Named After Groupon Stage) — Gene
North Coast did Sunday single-day ticket buyers a service by booking two of the best live bands on
the planet for the festivals final day. One, of course, is Of Montreal, and the second is Gogol Bordello.
This gypsy punk outfit is made up of musicians from around the world and plays some inspiring and
maddening rock that’s not to be missed. Accordions, violins, old world beats and new world bombast
all come together over Latin rap and lead singer Eugene Hütz’ manic howling. While much of North
Coast is set up for you to dance, Gogol is going to get you jumping and moshing. Rule number one of
music festival survival is pacing your substance intake, but this set will be the one you’re going to want
to forget that during. No doubt the band will have. For a taste of what you’re in for, check out this video
of “Start Wearing Purple” from Gogol Bordello’s riot-like set at Coachella back in ’08.