North Coast Music Festival at Union Park, Aug. 31 – Sept. 2
Photos: Tammy Wetzel
Words: Scott Bernstein
The North Coast Music Festival may attract a wide array of artists from many different genres to Chicago’s Union Park over Labor Day Weekend, but despite the breadth of the lineup the fest remains a homespun affair in which it’s easy to move from stage to stage without the ridiculously long walks found at other events. As an example, you can watch a band start a song and take a quick tour of the other stages, grab a bite to eat from one of the many interesting local food vendors and return to the stage you started at by the time that song is finished. In an age where many major festivals feel “bigger is better,” this intimacy was appreciated.
[All Photos by Tammy Wetzel]
There’s no doubt the focus was on Electronic Dance Music at the third installment of North Coast with Pretty Lights, Girl Talk, Axwell and Steve Aoki towards the top of the bill, but most of the EDM acts (especially the first two mentioned) mix rock tracks into their sets so you didn’t have to be a rave kid to enjoy the festival. Not to mention, HT faves Umphrey’s McGee were one of the headliners, part of a lineup that also included funk act Rebirth Brass Band, rockers Future Rock and Van Ghost as well as a band that perfectly mixes rock and electronica – Digital Tape Machine.
We had photographer extraordinaire Tammy Wetzel on hand for the entire three-day fest, while I was able to attend on Sunday. As mentioned, I was struck by the size and setup of the park which made getting around extremely easy. The first act of the day was Wyllys and the New York Hustler Ensemble and for this set Wade, who contributes to HT, was only joined by his “Disco Angels” – Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman. The trio opened with a fitting Sunday morning take on Amazing Grace and the rest of the set featured Wyllys laying down pre-recorded beats while the horns added melodies. Rebirth Brass Band gave attendees a taste of New Orleans, while Van Ghost showed just how tight and polished they’ve become on the back of heavy touring and recording schedules. As noted, Digital Tape Machine impressed with a hearty blend of rock and electronica that kept the crowd moving. Big Boi may have a reputation for being a “problem child” for festival organizers, but on the Sunday of North Coast he delivered a fantastic set littered with Outkast classics before Pretty Lights drew a huge crowd for one last party to closeout the weekend.
Here’s a full gallery of snaps from the North Coast Music Festival by Tammy Wetzel…