North Coast Recap 2011: Day Two

Photo Credit: Andrew Hertzberg

Another slow start to the second day at North Coast. I saw local soul group The Right Now with about twenty other people. But the band didn’t seem to mind the small crowd, just happy to be able to play the main stage at the festival. They don’t stray far from the genre, and the few songs I caught seemed to center lyrically around the concept of infidelity. It’s curious that such an obviously heartbreaking occurrence could inspire such catchy songs.

Up next was one of the bands I was most excited to see, Brooklyn eight-piece Rubblebucket. They kicked off with the triumphantly brass-led ‘Breatherz (Young as Clouds),’ which has such a misleadingly catchy sound. The closer I listened the more I realized how complex the time signatures were, yet how fluid it sounds. The band is percussion heavy, with funky basslines, and although they have a general afro-pop sound, they’re impossible to simplify. I’ve seen the term ‘Yes Wave’ used to describe them, but when they went into a No Wavesque noise jam with an abrasive James Chance inspired sax line and messy, noisy, trashy distortion guitar it immediately counters the label. Likewise, if there’s such a genre as psych-reggae, that’s how I would attempt to describe ‘Triangular Daisies.’ Whatever you call it, the early crowd was getting into it, infectious vocal, whistle and brass melodies guiding those smart enough to come early on Saturday. They closed with their single off this year’s Omega La La ‘Came Out of a Lady.’ Before the final chorus, the four brass members came out into the crowd to lead the dance party and impromptu marching band conga line. Definitely the best crowd interaction I’d seen yet this weekend, and the show did not disappoint in the least. Make sure not to miss them when they come back October 14th at Double Door. Until then, here’s the video for ‘Came Out of a Lady.’

As soon as the party was over, it started pouring. This didn’t stop a fair share of people from checking out the funky New Mastersounds but admittedly, I didn’t stay too long. I like a romp in the mud as much as the next guy (y’all know that), but if it can be avoided, especially early in the day (and especially with hail expected), well, I’ll sit that one out for a bit. It gave me time to reflect on how awesome Rubblebucket was, a much welcome respite from the DJ-heavy Friday night.

Sure enough, the downpour ceased as soon as RJD2 was about to take the stage. Formally known as Ramble John Krohn, this guy is ridiculous. He came on stage in a robot costume with a processor of his male parts that he could rock a beat on. He kicked things off with ‘A Beautiful Mine’ (probably more well known as the theme to ‘Mad Men’), scratching over the beat. He had four turntables set up, and get this, actually played and flipped vinyl records. Seems like such a novel concept for a DJ in 2011. It was cool to see him hop around the stage, shuffling between all of the turntables, scratching things up, as opposed to turning a few knobs occasionally and just hitting play. After a bit, the Break Science drummer came out to join him, adding an extra live flare to the set. By this time, the crowd was getting bigger and bigger, and things finally started to feel underway at day two.

The mid-afternoon found me transported to an unusual time at the fest. Centered between Lettuce and Big Gigantic, I felt almost like I was at Bonnaroo, considering the jam-oriented and sax-heaviness of both. The latter did have more of an electro element, more specifically providing some drum ‘n’ bass to the weekend. The scheduling of these two bands seemed odd since they did seem like they could appeal to the same crowd. Likewise, posing Major Lazer and Rusko against each other was confusing as well. Major Lazer has a certain novel appeal. Diplo is a charismatic, if not overly-assured DJ and is characteristic of a producer that will throw anything into a song. And although certainly not the originator, I at least blame him for popularizing the ubiquitous air horn heard throughout electro. The whole set was a huge dance party (sensing a theme to the weekend yet?) and was only enhanced when Diplo invited about twenty girls from the crowd to dance on stage. He closed out the set with ‘Cashflow,’ the only actual track by him I can say I enjoy. I then headed to the main stage where Rusko was taking care of the dubstep. Which was monotonous enough until he dropped Dire Straits’ ‘Money for Nothing.’ Ok, Rusko, you win this round.

I knew ahead of time I had to see Fatboy Slim close things out, but I did have enough time to catch the beginning of South Side rapper Common. The hometown crowd was all over it. He threw out infinite shoutouts to ‘Chi-city’ and the red-starred, blue and white striped flag at the front of the crowd waved in response. The L train passing in the background added an appropriate cinematic element. He paid respect to the late, great J Dilla, and despite my unfamiliarity with his catalogue, I wish I could have stayed longer. I definitely need to play catch up with the local legend.

A surprisingly empty side stage for the guy probably responsible for my introduction to the electronica world with tracks like ‘The Rockefeller Skank’ and ‘Praise You’ off of 1998’s You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. I didn’t really expect anything in particular from Fatboy Slim, just wanted to go through a combination of curiosity, vague nostalgia and bragging rights. It was pretty much a DJ set with little original material. I guess not shocking. Hopefully soon Cee Lo’s ‘Fuck You’ can be laid to rest, but I put up with it for the second time this weekend. 2Pac’s and Dre’s West Coast anthem ‘California Love’ got the North Coast crowd into it, not to mention the sing along to the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ He threw in a quick ‘Stop In the Name of Love’ before a drop and one of the few originals we got was ‘Star 69.’ Going one step further than Major Lazer, he was blasting actual air horns. In the name of nostalgia as well, he played a solo vocal sample from ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ with, clever enough, the image of a tiger’s eye in the background. Overall, a bit underwhelming, but that may be due to my over-mythologizing the guy, as is often the case when seeing legends live. I mean, people were climbing into (and subsequently, falling out of) trees to see him. Which may be why I’m regretting jetting early. Riding my bike away from the festival, I did hear ‘the Rockefeller Skank’ over the Rolling Stone’s ‘Satisfaction.’ Perhaps a bit suggesting his status in the electronica world in comparison to the Stones in the rock realm. But if he couldn’t do that, who could?

Photo Credit: Andrew Hertzberg

Andrew Hertzberg

About Andrew Hertzberg

If identity is an illusion, I’m a magician in training. And although Emerson was right in pointing out that “with consistency, a great soul has simply nothing to do” the one constant I don’t mind in my life is Chicago. Yes, even the boredom of her suburbs couldn’t suppress the glow of the city, my attraction as a moth to flame. The future is unwritten, the characters are ever-expanding, and the plot is a perpetual foray through rising actions, conflicts and falling actions; the setting, however, remains the same.

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