The moment people in Chicago start to talk about North Coast is always a bittersweet one. Although it is one of the most anticipated festivals in the city, it also signals the end of summer and with its harsh winters, that’s never a welcomed time of the year in the Windy City. Hosted in Union Park on the city’s Near West Side, the festival takes place over Labor Day Weekend and is dubbed as “Summer’s Last Stand” for exactly this reason.
North Coast, however, always does a great job in keeping the festival’s line-up fresh and eclectic, with acts that cover the hip-hop, EDM, jam band and even underground spectrums. This year, the story is no different, with headliners including Widespread Panic, D’Angelo, The Chemical Brothers, Steve Aoki and The Disco Biscuits, as well as entirely dedicated Heineken House area featuring underground house artists.
The names don’t stop there, with Porter Robinson, The Roots, Booka Shade, Atmosphere, Portugal. The Man, Green Velvet and The Glitch Mob being some of the other highlights across all three days. Whether you end up attending all weekend or picking and choosing a day or two, I recommend arriving earlier than usual to soak up the tunes of some of the local talent being put on display earlier in the festival schedule. Some of DownBeat’s favorites include:
BISHARAT: Raised in Chicago, Bisharat was influenced by his city’s house scene at a young age. In 2012, he co-founded The Pool House, a record label & weekly event known for hosting local and international DJ’s/Producers. With growing support from fans and artists alike, he has quickly become a staple in his city’s house circuit. Known for his deep, dark, bassline driven sets and production, there is no way I will be missing his performance at the Heineken House on Sunday.
BENTLEY DEAN: As a producer and DJ with proud English roots, Bentley Dean has been pushing the envelope with a sound that encompasses underground melodic vocals and tech-driven basslines. His recent performances at world-renowned Spybar have been a treat, making arrival to the fest early on Sunday a must!
ZEBO: A self-described polygamous lover of music, there is no easy way to pinpoint Zebo‘s sets to a particular genre or style. Fresh off a massive Lollapalooza set as one half of Light Em Up, Zebo has been a regular North Coast performer over the past five years and with reason. Despite the early slot on Sunday’s 847 Stage, Zebo is sure to pack the heat to properly start your day!
BUCKY FARGO: Rooted in the dark, spacey sounds of techno/minimal, Bucky Fargo takes audiences on tech-heavy rides usually suited for the after-midnight set. This time around, it will be interesting to see where his techno-focused performances will take listeners as he sets up the stage early on Saturday for a Heineken House line-up that includes Roy Davis Jr. and Moon Boots.
MY BOY ELROY: Combining musical performance with DJing, My Boy Elroy combines genres to produce a DJ style that can be best described as a concoction of buttery and emotional Deep House, Nu Disco, Techno as well as Instrumental Hip-Hop. Poised to set the tone for the likes of DJ Heather, Waze & Odyssey and R.O.N.N. aka Ron Carrol, his performance early on Friday is one not to be missed.
As always, we encourage all attendees to arrive prepared, and for this reason, we recommend not only to review the official NCMF Festival Guide but to secure a pair of DownBeats ear plugs early to ensure hearing protection for the weekend. You can purchase them online or head to Gramaphone Records (2843 N Clark St) in Chicago for a pair!