North Coast Music Festival: Day 1 Recap

Hi, my name is Liz, and I somehow landed the lucky job of covering The North Coast Music Festival for How’s My Living.  I’ve been a music fan for as far back as I can remember, and although I haven’t performed since college, it continues to be my companion, cheerleader, and all around best friend.  So understandably I jumped at the chance to cover this fest!  Now on to the good stuff:

First up Friday afternoon was Orchard Lounge, a Chicago trio that spins a collection of b-boy jams, including everything from downtempo to house.  While I enjoyed their chilled out set, they were accompanied by a local b-boy dance troupe whose announcer pretty consistently yelled over the music, which made it hard to focus on the group.  I think Orchard Lounge would definitely be worth checking out on their own though, and they happen to be playing a seven-hour all vinyl set at SmartBar tonight!  (That’s a lot of vinyl.)

Next I ventured to the Magic Hat Local Stage and found Stratus rocking the crowd.  He had me at his mix of “Crush On You” by the Jets.  Check out this photo of concert-goers dancing their fannies off:


Stratus at the Magic Hat Local Stage

Stratus could be characterized as a dubstep DJ, but I’m honestly not great at labeling dance music, so here’s my description: it was like a crazy bass monster hijacked Missy Elliot’s mind and spit out syncopated, deranged, insanely intense beats.  Under this kind of influence you can’t help but dance.

Back at The Named After Groupon Stage, Auto Body came out looking like the offspring of The Black Keys and ZZ Top, and then proceeded to play 80s influenced dance-pop.  Who knew?  Composed of Felix Moreno and Tibaut Bowman from Austin, TX, their MySpace page calls them indie electro fusion, and I’d say that’s as good a descriptor as any.  They were definitely danceable, and the large crowd that formed agreed.  Their last song channeled Kasabian, but hey, I liked Kasabian.  These guys play the kind of driving, danceable music you put on to get things done.

Auto Body

Auto Body at The Named After Groupon Stage

Immediately after Auto Body on the adjacent North Coast Stage was SBTRKT.  Hailing from London, SBTRKT wears tribal masks and has a non-descript name purportedly to ensure that his music is the focus.  I kept wondering, though, why his tribal mask was necessary as it looked to be obscuring his view of the equipment, so for me it distracted during his set.  He started with a remix of Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower” that I thought was nicely understated, but after that I began to lose interest. However, in the second half of his set he steered away from obvious remixes and got down to what I felt was the heart of his sound: interesting, enjoyable electronics.  Overall it wasn’t mind-blowing, but it certainly wasn’t a bad way to pass an hour on a beautiful Friday afternoon.

After SBTRKT the DJ rig on the main stage was raised about 6 feet, and it was getting dark: the headliners were next.  Wolfgang Gartner played for an hour.  I don’t have many notes from that time because I was dancing my butt off.  He’s an electro-house DJ, and although that’s not my immediate go-to style of music for dancing, something about the huge crowd and the light show and the pounding music combined to make it a great experience.  If there is one reason to come to The North Coast Music Festival I’d say that’s it.  After Wolfgang Gartner, David Guetta took the stage, and while I can appreciate him on paper, for some reason his house music never makes me move the way it should.  It was perfectly okay though: I was already happily danced out and sweaty from the fun of the day.