North Coast Music Festival is rightly billed as summer’s last stand in Chicago, yet chilly fall temperatures and even a bout of freezing rain left thousands of festival-goers, dubbed Coasties, undeterred. North Coast, like its React Presents sister festival Mamby on the Beach, is an eclectic mixture of genres: this year, rap artists were heavily represented alongside the EDM acts everyone wanted to see. As we arrived at Union Park, the thumping boom of the music sent a feeling of excitement in the air.
Friday night belonged to Deadmau5 B2B Eric Prydz in a visual and aural extravaganza. Bringing their B2B team-up from Ibiza to Chicago, the two producers delivered a tech set that combined the best of Deadmau5’s cinematic music with Prydz’ glittering productions. The sparse, minimalist beats evoked the legendary work of Giorgio Moroder, while the dazzling lasers mesmerized the crowd.
Saturday, Don Diablo energized the audience at the Coast Stage, sharing with us how Chicago was the first city in America he went to on vacation with his family. Diablo’s energy was ecstatic, frequently engaging the crowd, and delivering so much joy with his upbeat music. As the clock timing his set wound down, he threw it into the audience to deliver a touching message about Hurricane Harvey, proving the unitive aspects of EDM are more important than any schedule. The pouring, chilly rain occasioned a stop at the drink and food tent, with delicious samples of Stillwater Whiskey keep us warm. After the rain stopped, Carnage delivered his bass heavy tracks to close out the night.
With clear skies and higher temps, Sunday closed out the festival on a high note. We wanted to explore other aspects of the fest, so a stop at the Silent Disco tent was obligatory. At the Silent Disco, you listen to the DJ through headphones and dance around to the beat of your own drum. Getting lost in the music was easy as Hiroko Yamamura‘s dark techno faced off against the sunny chillwave and tropical house of Plaid Hawaii. Back at the Coast Stage, Elephante‘s big room house veered into dubstep and bass, delighting us all and getting everyone jumping and dancing.
North Coast Music Festival delivered in many ways. Transportation was incredibly easy, with an El stop at the park, plenty of space for Uber rides, and inexpensive parking lots nearby. The lines were quick, water was easily accessible, and bathroom lines were even quicker: this was a festival done right. As we first entered the festival grounds, stalls selling hat pins and pashmas popular with the “wook” subculture.
Labor Day weekend is the end of summer in the United States, as kids go back to school and work resumes in full. North Coast Music Festival bade goodbye to a fantastic summer in the Windy City with the music Chicago gave birth to. Dancing and music are ancient art forms that transcend culture and history, and NCMF reminded us of the universal human pleasure in both.