North Coast Music Festival: Day 2 Recap

The second day of The North Coast Music Festival started with rain. I was afraid it would pour and turn Union Park into a mud pit, but it only ever lightly rained which was a welcome way to help us all stay cool. First up was RJD2 (an American DJ) with Break Science (a duo of musicians), who played an interesting mix of dub, electronic and hip-hop. From what I could tell only Break Science’s drummer was on stage, but the combination of live drums with a DJ made for entertaining listening.

After relaxing with the first band, I ventured to the Magic Hat Local Stage, where I’ve been consistently impressed with the local talent Chicago has to offer. There I found Nameloc rocking the crowd with dubstep. I’ve become much more familiar with dubstep in the past few days, and find it incredibly easy to dance to, and also full of rhythmic intricacy that the music major in me definitely enjoys.

Next up at the Red Bull Grove Stage was Major Lazer, one of the few non-headliners I was familiar with before this weekend. This group formed while working with M.I.A., so think of their music as reminiscent of her tight beats but with less political edge and a dose of an almost Jamaican vibe. They were great in my opinion, and had a huge crowd of festival goers enjoying themselves. Here’s a picture from the set:

Major Lazer

Major Lazer at the Red Bull Grove Stage

If you’re interested in checking them out I recommend a mixtape they did with La Roux called Lazerproof. It’s available here for free download.

After dancing at Major Lazer’s set I moved back to the largest stage to check out Rusko, probably the biggest dubstep act performing this weekend. He alternated drum and bass with dubstep, and was the most energetic DJ I’ve ever seen. I loved it. I tried to get a good picture, but between the crowd and his undulations here’s the best I could do:


Rusko at the North Coast Stage, a study in movement : )

Immediately after Rusko, Common played on the adjacent Named After Groupon Stage. Yes, he’s critically acclaimed, writes great lyrics, and has even been invited to the White House to perform, but did he keep me going after many hours of dancing? Not really. His smooth style of hip-hop just didn’t draw me in. At a different venue, however, I’m sure I could more easily appreciate his talent. I stayed at his set a few minutes, and then found myself migrating to Carl Cox‘s techno-y house music at the Red Bull Grove Stage. His music is intense, tinged with jazz, and great fun. If you ever get the chance to check him out please do!

Lastly, I mistakenly saw STS9, assuming that Fatboy Slim would be playing the largest stage, when he was actually at the smaller, side stage. STS9 is a five-piece electronic collective from Santa Cruz, and was a very down-tempo end to the evening. In retrospect they had a calm Kraftwerk vibe that I might have enjoyed, but I didn’t stay through the set as I assumed it was a new, disappointing direction for Fatboy Slim’s music. I’m not sure if I’d recommend STS9, except maybe as background music for a swanky lounge, and this evening I’ll be sure to double check my schedule.