North Coast Festival 2011
Let’s face it, y’all. The temperature is changing, August is gone and the leaves only have a few more days. We had a great 2011 festival season. We hit the beaches of Alabama for Hangout, the fields of Tennessee for Bonnaroo, raved in the rain for EDC Orlando, and braved the city of Chicago for Pitchfork’s own brand of musical mayhem.
Well, we returned once more to that grassy knoll Union Park, in good ole’ Chi-town, to take part in one more rowdy romp, “Summer’s Last Stand” as they called it – North Coast Festival 2011.
Three final days of fun in the sun, or at least, that was the idea. Unfortunately, due to personal restraints, we at Wet Paint only got to party the last two days of the festival. What did we miss? A sure-to-have-been good time with sets from the likes of the Hood Internet, Midnight Conspiracy, SBTRKT, Wolfgang Gartner, David Guetta and Wiz Khalifa, among others.
But nobody cries in party-town, and we hit it hard Saturday. We found Union Park filled to the brim with excited faces. Four stages were erected in the area which we thought seemed small when empty, but just right when crowded with spectators.
As we feasted on some delicious festy food (gyros, fish and chips, Jameson ice-cream, you know, the usual), we bobbed our heads to the sounds of local-grown Future Rock. After that, Chi’s own hip-hop foursome BBU (Bin Laden Blowin Up, how great is that name) showed us that you can still dance to music with a message and not feel guilty about it.
Back on the main stage, Diplo raged behind the decks in a fancy suit, performing a set for Major Lazer. Strangely, Skerrit Boy was nowhere to be seen, and the set was more housey than the dancehall-inspired madness we were expecting. I mean, he still dropped Pon De Floor, twice.
Rusko killed it dirty style, of course, somehow managing to jump like a jack with rabies even though one of his legs was stuck in a cast. Rusko is definitely bringing the punk rock aesthetic to the hippy-meets-metal-head world of dubstep, thank goodness.
As Rusko finished, the stage right next to his came alive for hometown-hero Common while, simultaneously, the air filled with some sort of green-smelling aroma. Delivering hits old and new, Common proved Chicago knows how to keep hip-hop alive.
Again, the end of his set melted perfectly into the start of STS9‘s psychedelic presentation on the next stage over. These guys always deliver an outstanding light show, and could probably jam for hours with impressive precision if the city didn’t have an “Okay, it’s 10 p.m., the party is over” policy.
But the last performance of the night was one we were most excited for, and I have to say, found the most disappointing. Fatboy Slim, the man behind such gems as “Praise You,” “Right Here, Right Now,” and “Weapon of Choice” delivered one of the weakest, most generic sets I’ve heard in a while. It’s not even like when someone like Benny Benassi does boring electro house, because that’s kind of expected. No, everyone already loves Fatboy Slim, he didn’t have to do anything to make me happy other than be himself. But I guess that was too much to ask. I’m glad cool-dad RJD2 knows how to keep it real.
Diplo followed, doing himself this time and totally outshining his Major Lazer performance earlier in the day. Zeds Dead finished the night strong with some heavy dubstep, and then it was time to go to sleep (or, party into a dream-like state).
Sunday we roused, barely, and though we got a late start, we were glad to be greeted by the magical, childlike antics from Of Montreal. I’ve heard it said before their live sets can’t be appreciated much in a festival setting. Their shows consist of a lot of costume changes, on-stage dancers in silly get ups and other various things much cooler when they can be seen. However, the intimate nature of North Coast afforded everyone a good look at what was going on, and I think it really worked here.
Benny Benassi did his thing on the main stage to the thrill of whoever could still intake substances. Though the crowd was thinner this last day, they were still showing their rowdy side. After all, the next Monday was Labor Day, no one was going to have to do anything but recuperate.
Across the field, Gogol Bordello got the crowd livelier than most, inspiring many a drunken festie to skank it out. There’s really something magical about gypsy punks, you’ve got to see it in person.
The one and only Bassnectar helped bang out the show on one side of the park, while Thievery Corporationeased everyone into the end with their organic reggea-funk. From the back of Thievery Corp.’s crowd, you could still hear the bass booming over the hundreds of heads thrashing before Bassnectar’s stage. Whether you wanted it hard or slightly softer in the end, the end had still come, all up in our faces.
And after a tryst such as that, we were sure tired. Summer’s Last Stand has come and gone, and now we’re only left with the memories. Maybe it’s a good thing, we could use the rest.
Oh, who am I kidding, we can’t wait until next festival season.