– Written by Tim, Bryan, Stephen
Memorial Day weekend marks the start of many things in the minds for those residing in America. The prospect of an endless summer filled with vacations from work or school, creating memories with friends, journeying to various destinations, and enjoying every chance of sunshine is omnipresent. As days go by in June and July, the thought that dwells deep in the back of our brain comes closer to fruition once August rounds the corner and the aspect of summer coming to an end over Labor Day weekend leaves many wondering where did the time go? But for the past three years, the good people over at React Presents have made it their mission to ensure that any Chicagoan or out-of-towner deciding to spend their last three days of summer witnessing over 60 of the best acts in electronic, hip-hop and indie music gives one proper last stand before winter hibernation ensues once more.
For our members that ventured into the trenches for North Coast Music Festival came the opportunity to have one of the shortest natural voyage’s to a festival possible due to the location of our newest Chicago additions residence. A mere five minute walk placed us right in the thick of the action come late afternoon and after gathering our credentials, we made way inside and first spotted a tent sporting two of the best clothing startups in the city. The Mac & Smash / Janky Tanks tent become more then just a chance to peep some fresh to death clothing; over the next 72 hours it became a convenient hangout spot, meeting place, rest area, and had unobstructed views of the three main stages on the grounds.
Our festival experience started with a trip over to the Dos Equis Stage to witness two brothers who produce a sound that is quite different from anything else out today. Two Fresh had the late afternoon crowd up in arms on the concrete dance floor; with the addition of Colby Buckler on drums, the trio rifled off many of their original tracks as well as some new material that featured many elements of THE TRAP to our delight. We came to enjoy many performances at this stage due to the setup and atmosphere which resembled that of a traditional Chicago street festival. Meanwhile at the Red Bull Stage, some of us caught hometown favorites Midnight Conspiracy’s set before our paths crossed again later on that evening. Mikul and Louis took it upon themselves to ensure that dubstep of the highest degree met the ears of those who sought shelter in the tree filled area and unleashed bangers that included our personal favorite The Eye, as well being the first artists to jump into the crowd for some quality surfing time with their fans.
Though the North Coast schedule listed STS9 and Axwell as the main headliners to bring down the house on day 1, you would have thought otherwise after seeing the flock of people crossing the grounds from every direction towards just as Knife Party took the North Stage. This was the duo’s first performance in Chicago which we found odd since many have listening to their bass-heavy tracks for well over a year now. An onslaught of noise met us from the word go and it wasn’t long before mayhem took over the crowd as Swedish House Mafia’s Save the World had everyone
singing screaming in unison. Looking into the crowd at the sea of totems and signs on display provided a great deal of entertainment and had the people of ChristWire been in attendance, we are almost certain they would have declared damnation to the individual(s) who created this masterpiece. It wouldn’t have been a proper party with knives without the performance of Internet Friends which had a few people checking their iPhones to see if their calls were being transmitted through the stages sound system and the wobbles that came from Sleaze would have claimed our hearing if it weren’t for the handiness of earplugs. When Skrillex’s “Goin’ Down” version of Goin’ In made its way into airspace, part of the crowd erupted with chants of, “It’s A TRAP” which left smile on the faces of many including our members. Once the dust had settled on performance that felt much longer then an hour, we decided to call it a day on our time at Union Park as we prepared for late night activities back at the household
It doesn’t help being the only morning person amongst your group of friends when it follows the day after a music festival that kept many out till the wee hours of the morning, but it does allow you the time to plan your day out as best you can, obtain a balanced breakfast, and run last minute errands before noon rolls around. Once the group shook the cobwebs from the previous night, we arrived for day 2 of North Coast in high spirits and eager to pick up right where we left off.
Despite not boasting a 100,000 watt sound sysem like his previousperformance this past spring, Excision took to the main stage the only way he knew how…….Loud, Hard, and OUT OF CONTROL. For as many times as we’ve stated that something sinister must be going on with our noisy neighbors to the north, that didn’t stop the crowd from coming out in serious numbers to experience one of Canada’s top dogs in the drumstep/dubstep mid-afternoon. Tracks like Bare & Datsik’s King Kong and Nero’s Crush on You (Knife Party VIP Remix) forced us to seek higher ground in fear of losing the ability to hear prominently. Following our relocation to the sound-booth area for the reminder of the performance, Excision decided it was time to throw his own hard-hitting bangers into the mix as X-Rated and Headbanga took things to a whole other level of awesome. Once Excision exited the stage, we made way over to the Red Bull Stage to catch an artist that I’ve been dying to see for reasons few will understand.
When Steve Aoki released his infamous Holy Ship recap video this past January he featured one song that has been the driving force for me to find any way possible to make it on the ship next year. That song was created by the legend that is Tommy Trash who delivered his electro/house gem’s underneath tree cover for all to get down upon. Sporting his legendary mane of hair that never stood still during his entire performance, he turned the party upside down by playing a techno version of Justice’s We Are Your Friends straight into his ever so wonky The End track. Things reached their inevitable climax when Tommy dropped his remix of Ladi Dadi leading to a wild assortment of objects being thrown into the air with the crowds inhibition being one of them. Having worked up quite an appetite after all that dancing movement, food felt like a urgent commodity to obtain before another round of house music came our way.
Prior to taking the stage, the masses that packed themselves into the Red Bull Stage area were buzzing with excitement as the young prodigy Alesso was set to bring in nightfall with some euro style. With Macbook in place and mixer ready, the Swede appeared behind dj booth and was welcomed to cheers from the audience. During his hour long set, Alesso displayed why many consider him to be one of the brightest stars in electronic music today. Tracks like Swedish House Mafia’s Greyhound and Tiesto’s remix to Paradise when accompanied by blaring smoke cannons made the atmosphere feel larger then life, but standing amongst a sea of neon clothed individuals brought us back to reality. Before each of us headed our seperate ways for the evening, we observed the madness that erupted when Dada Life’s Kick Out The Epic Mother F*cker with smiles on our faces as we wished each other adieu.
“How did this happen?” “Where did the time go?” “I thought this would last forever?” These are questions that often occupy the mind of an individual who has reached the final moments of an event either lasting a few short hours or is stretched over a longer period of time. These same questions racked our brains as we started our Sunday with just a few hours remaining on our time at North Coast. The atmosphere at Union Park embodied the very tagline the festival stood for because come hell or high water, this would be “The Last Stand” for many in attendance.
Given the immense amount of talent at North Coast and having seen just about every artist this summer trying their hand at trap music, it wasn’t until the final day that we were able to witness a “Certified Real Trap Shit” set provided by Chicago’s own DJ SOLO. With the success of his Traps N Tree’s compilation from Electric Forest, SOLO sparked an early dose of energy into the crowd by playing bangers like Three Loco’s We Are Farmers, the infamous Flosstradamus remix to Original Don, and Baauer’s Harlem Shake which had everyone getting B⚠NNED at the Dos Equis Stage. As the rowdyness concluded, we ventured towards the bass beats emulating from the Red Bull Stage as Savoy were delivering their signature blend of music to a packed house. Having releasing their highly promoted Supertrail EP days before taking the stage, their set featured many of the tracks we had been listening too leading up to the weekend.
It took some time for the stage crew to clear off the dj stand in order to make room for Modestep’s equipment, so using the time to grab some food and meet up with friends seemed like a smart idea. It was not only the first time the UK dubstep band would be performing in Chicago, but it was a year ago at this very fest when we first heard about the group through our lovely friend Ms Olga Rose. Modestep separated themselves completely from any other electronic music act we’d seen at North Coast simply by adding instruments to their performance. The crowd was TURNT UP as bangers like To The Stars, Doctor P remix of The License, and my personal favorite Sunlight were blasted into our eardrums from close range. We stuck around to see dirty-dutch producer Chuckie go HAM on some progressive house as the sun began to fall and he even delivered a special shout out to Chicago before we ventured into the finale of acts at Union Park.
We first attempted to finish off the night with a performance by the one and only Pretty Lights seeing that the high-acclaimed glitch-hop artist has been boasting about a new stage setup that would put hologram 2Pac to shame. Our plans were thwarted after 10 mins as the crowd decided to pack into the Coast Stage like sardins forcing us to evacuate with safety for the camera being number one. Once free of the madness, we headed to the Dos Equis stage and were happy to not only see a much mellower audience but recent interviewee Minnesota putting on a clinic in good ol’ fashion bass music. Having access to the backstage area allowed us to witness firsthand why the young producer is spoken in such high regard by Bassnectar himself and with a tracklist including his remix of Ellie Golding’s Starry Eyed and Rick Ross’s Make It Rain, we were thoroughly glad we were gifted with the opportunity to end the the festival in such a special manner. As we said our goodbyes to North Coast and exited the park, we caught this one last shot of Swedish House Mafia’s Sebastian Ingrosso blowing off smoke into the audience. Summers Last Stand………Survived!