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Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

north coast music festival 2011
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    northcoast 260x260 Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011In a way, the weather at the 2011 North Coast Music Festival was like a microcosm of Chicago’s whole summer. First it was super hot, then it was rainy, and finally, on the last day, it was just right. And in the true Chicago spirit, the attendees at North Coast’s sophomore showing were game for anything as long as it meant they could dance.

    Danceability seemed like the only factor that connected many of North Coast’s diverse acts. The headliners had lengthy electronic resumes: Thievery Corporation, Bassnectar, Fatboy Slim, and David Guetta. Meanwhile, the undercard was a smorgasbord of styles: the quirky pop of acts like Little Dragon and of Montreal; classic hip-hop from Common; sample-heavy dance beats from Zed’s Dead, Major Lazer, and Wolfgang Gartner; and gypsy punk from Gogol Bordello. North Coast has so far been a case of all the odd kids at school sitting at one lunch table together, finally achieving critical oddball mass. North Coast is so varied, so wild, so different that everything flips and becomes cool again; a fest that many music snobs brush off (“I don’t really like electronica”) becomes the can’t-miss event of summer.

    Sold-out on days two and three, North Coast seemed to be by all accounts a wild success. Like last year, superior organization (this is seriously the best-run festival I have ever been to or heard of) and good luck with the weather (it did rain, but the thunderstorm that forced the cancellation of many a football game on Saturday bypassed the fest altogether) contributed to a memorable weekend. They call North Coast “Summer’s Last Stand,” and we’d like to keep standing with it for as long as it’ll have us. Any summer that ends with thousands of people dancing in a field together in the cool night air is alright by us.

    -Megan Ritt
    Editorial Manager

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    Friday, September 2nd

    The Hood Internet – Red Bull Stage – 4:30 p.m.

    fri hoodinternet redbull Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Derek Staples

     The Hood Internet kicked off the afternoon for a lot of festival-goers, and they handled their assignment artfully. The shady Red Bull Stage provided better-than-expected relief from the nearly 100-degree heat, and the crowd cooled off while warming up to The Hood Internet’s eclectic mix of mash-ups. These included cuts from Modest Mouse and Michael Jackson and a sing-along inducing rendition of Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You”. A dynamic light show and chilled-out dancing fit right along with the chorus of R. Kelly’s “Remix to Ignition”, combined into a dance-heavy mash-up: “It’s the freakin’ weekend baby/ I’m about to have me some fun.” –Megan Ritt

    Auto Body – The Named After Groupon Stage – 5:30 p.m.

    fri autobody groupon Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Derek Staples

    If you’re still a fan of neon headbands, leggings, John Hughes’ flicks, and/or sporting a fanny pack, set Auto Body atop your must listen list. Hailing from sultry Austin, TX, the producer/bass guitar tandem of Thibault Bowman (aka DJ Thibault) and Felix Moreno had no issues with the intense mid-afternoon heat; sending out a cool wave of electro-pop beats. Even up against James Zabiela, the duo utilized an array of synthesizers, samplers, and Bowman’s above average vocals to build a decently sized, dance-happy crowd. Even those in the audience with two left feet would have a hard time not bouncing to the beats of “Closer To The Edge”. -Derek Staples

    SBTRKT – North Coast Stage – 6:30 p.m.

    sbtrkt2 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Warning: Do not attend a SBTRKT show in hopes of catching multiple tracks off his debut release. The (as-always) masked performance began on a high note with a remix of Radiohead’s “Hole Inside My Head” and only continued to pick up steam, rarely mixing in vocal samples or slowing down the tempo to below 120 BPM, both of which are prevalent on SBTRKT. To the joy of the audience, SBTRKT did stray from the more up-tempo electro-dub DJ set to spin “Wildfire”, but unfortunately Little Dragon wasn’t on-hand for a special guest appearance. -Derek Staples

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    Lotus – Red Bull Grove Stage – 7:00 p.m.

    lotus3 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    During a day dominated by solo DJs, Lotus’ performance offered revelers the opportunity to actually watch an act perform tracks. Backed with an amazing light show, the four-piece started the set with “Bellwether”, and then got the Lotus-faithful moving with a spectacular performance of the bass/keyboard driven “Lead Pipe” into “Sunrain”. The set was closed out with a healthy dose of funk administered in the form of “Greet The Mind”. For a festival with such a high population of young hippies and jam fans, the 90-minute performance was deserving of headlining status over Wiz Khalifa and David Guetta. -Derek Staples

    Wolfgang Gartner – North Coast Stage – 7:30 p.m.

    wolfgang gartner copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    As the sun set and the stage lights came up, Wolfgang Gartner took the stage in a full-on tribal mask. The sound built up quietly, almost indistinguishable from the canned backing music, until suddenly the bass was booming and the party began in earnest. An explosive, throbbing club beat drew people from all corners of the grounds, and the mass of pulsing humanity resembled nothing so much as a rave. Glow sticks held high, the crowd jumped as one to clever remixes like “Show Me Love” and a line from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. After a long set, the music began to run together, and the crowd began to trickle away to get spots for Wiz Khalifa. –Megan Ritt

    David Guetta – North Coast Stage – 8:30 p.m. 

    david guetta copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Most artists feel comfortable spending a few minutes backstage prior to a performance, some go out of their way to interact, but David Guetta went to extremes in order to avoid all interactions during his performance Friday night at North Coast. Just moments prior to his set, the French superstar DJ/producer was ushered as near the stage as possible via a black SUV, and then demanded limited access to the backstage area during the entirety of his performance. Sociability issues aside, Guetta has the tracks and experience under his belt to perform a 90-minute long set entirely of massive self-produced radio/club hits.

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    The set focused on Guetta’s most recent album, Nothing But The Beatlaunching with his recent Snoop Dogg collaboration entitled “Sweat”, and continuing with new hits “Where Them Girls At”, “Little Bad Girl”, “I Just Wanna Fuck (feat. Afrokjack”), and “Lunar”. Further Afrojack collaborations popped up, a remix of Guetta’s hit “One Love” over Afrojack’s “Doing it Right”. With a world-class visual production supporting every track, Guetta also spun “Levels”, “Memories”, and “Without You”. -Derek Staples

    Wiz Khalifa – Red Bull Stage – 9:00 p.m.

    wiz khalifah6 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Clad in Taylor Gang shirts and by now thoroughly drunk, the crowd roared when Wiz Khalifa took the stage with “When I’m Gone”. The edge of melancholy to the lyrics was perhaps lost on the partying crowd, but let it never be said the music was not enjoyed. With a monotone delivery and solid flow, Khalifa rapped over a couple guys on backing vocals and a DJ scratching on a pair of turntables.

    Khalifa’s lyrics run to women and weed, but then so does the average fest-goer. “Make some noise over there if you’re smoking that good weed!” he shouted to a chorus of cheers. Tracks like “Cabin Fever” and “Gangbang” had the audience singing along. “The Thrill” added a surprising touch of sobriety to the proceedings. The crowd went nuts when they heard the opening bars, and the delivery of the serious lines made Khalifa a great deal more respectable as a performer. “We are always running for the thrill of it/ thrill of it… Never looking down/ I’m just in awe of what’s in front of me,” he spat, and you got the sense that he truly was. –Megan Ritt

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    Saturday, September 3rd

    Rubblebucket – Groupon Stage –  1:30 p.m.

    rubblebucket 14 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Those who took the trouble to arrive early on Saturday were treated to one of the best sets of the weekend. Rubblebucket, an eight-piece featuring horns and keyboard, dominated the Groupon Stage with an addictive blend of jam-tastic indie dance-pop. A funky bass line and clanging keyboards provided the backing for Kalmia Traver’s deep, rich, alto vocals. In between bewitching the crowd with her throaty growls and tosses of her wild hair, Traver grabbed up her bari sax and laid some fat, booming notes on the proceedings. Regarding the rest of the fest, she asked the crowd, “Are you excited for all the other times after now?” her enthusiasm honest and infectious.

    rubblebucket 13 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    The sort of large, noisy collective that might otherwise be annoying, Rubblebucket avoids this by being enormously, obviously talented. The trumpet and trombone players also whistle and provide a falsetto backing when required; the keyboardist pounds out layers of texture; there’s a second percussionist manning just the bells, spare drums, and cymbals. Songs like “Raining” and “Came Out of a Lady” entranced the crowd with their playful, funky rhythms. For a final touch, Rubblebucket’s horn line ran offstage and joined the crowd on the ground, mobbed by fans, playing upwards toward the clouds with thunderous energy. –Megan Ritt

    Zeds Dead – Red Bull Grove Stage – 3:00 p.m.

    zedsdead copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    So what’s the best way to shake off the haze from Friday’s late-late night set? How about a few Red Bulls mixed with the pulsating bass music provided by Toronto’s Zeds Dead. As a slight shower started on Union Park, Coasters were being blasted by the duo’s original productions like the drum-step track “Rudeboy”, and remixes of The Jet’s “Crush On You” and “Blue Skies” originally done by BT. But the duo didn’t just stick to the normal routine of remixing female pop vocals with massive bass drops, surprising old-school trip-hop fans with their take on Massive Attack’s “Paradise Circus”. -Derek Staples

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    RJD2 with Break Science – Groupon Stage – 3:30 p.m.

     

    rjd2 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011RJD2 started just as the rain let up, drawing raucous cheers with his trademark “Commissioner Crotchbuttons” intro before quickly shedding the suit to work his turntables. He led off with his best-known piece, “A Beautiful Mine” (aka the theme from Mad Men), and spun it off into a long, beautiful wander of a song. With the crowd’s attention now in hand, RJ proceeded to literally play for an hour, clearly enjoying himself, mixing a gorgeous, low-key dance set that had all heads bobbing.

    Break Science added further texture and interest by echoing the mixes on a live drum set, but the focus remained on RJD2. Watching him DJ is truly entertaining. He flips blindly through a huge stack of records, finding the one he wants seemingly by touch, hand-setting effects and flipping knobs while always nodding his head, grooving out just a little himself, mindful of the fun he’s manufacturing all the while. Tracks like “Ghostwriter” brightened the mood for the damp-but-cheerful crowd. So far, this was the quickest hour of the weekend. –Megan Ritt

    Photo by Lilian Cai.

    Big Gigantic – Red Bull Grove Stage – 4:30 p.m.

    sat biggigantic redbull Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Derek Staples

    Part jazz, part funk, part electronica, and 100% a fun time, there is no other outfit that fits the same mold as Colorado’s two-member Big Gigantic. Other Northwestern electronic outfits have similar production styles, but the power, precision, and emotional qualities that Dominic Lalli plays the saxophone simply cannot be matched by a traditional producer/DJ even with the most authentic horn samples. Paired with the superb drumming of Jeremy Salken, the two create amazing electro-funk jams that you just want to go on for hours. -Derek Staples

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    Major Lazer – Red Bull Stage – 6:00 p.m.

    major lazer3 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    “It’s time for the Major Lazer!” This time, unfortunately, also coincided with dinnertime and the end of a dance-heavy set by Big Gigante on the same stage. While most people seemed excited to see one of the more famous acts on the undercard, there was also a certain tiredness in the air, and Major Lazer’s repeated calls for “hands in the air!” and “Say, ‘Major!’ Say, ‘Lazer!’” sometimes went unanswered. Unfazed, though, the duo of Diplo and Switch put on a very respectable hour-long set that had people dancing even as they complained (about the rain, the humidity, the relative lack of unique sound in the set—pick your poison).

    Popular tracks included a remix of “Like a G6” and samples of “Intergalactic” and “Day-O (the Banana Boat Song)”. Playing with their mixes, Major Lazer had a habit of holding onto the beat—and then not dropping it when the crowd expected, resulting in some moments of lost energy. Despite any of the drawbacks to this set, it was undeniably infectious. The music made it impossible to hold still. –Megan Ritt

    Rusko – North Coast Stage – 6:30 p.m.

    rusko3 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Back in 2010, Rusko promised to bring dirty, grimey dubstep to the U.S. – mission successful. Now that dubstep is firmly planted on American soil, and nearly every dance tent at major festival is filled with oscillating basslines, Rusko has been forced to step up his game. Rusko’s Saturday performance displayed a more well-rounded artist. The Briton is still a ball of energy on stage, but has added more electro-production to his tracks, no longer relying on “Woo Boost” elements added throughout the set to get the crowd jumping. Rusko still enjoys mixing in high frequency vocals throughout his tracks, which was evident in the remix of his new single “Everyday”. It’s easy to forget the pioneer is still not even 30, and at a festival with legends like David Guetta and Benny Bennassi, one can hear how a producers career can change over a decade. -Derek Staples

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    Common – Groupon Stage – 7:30 p.m.

    common5 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    TimeOut Chicago referred to Common as the “elder statesman” of North Coast, and a more accurate statement is hard to conceive. Looking very professorial in a full beard and shaved head, Common descended from his ivory tower of hip-hop in order to school the masses on how it’s really done. There was no begging for audience participation, no repeated requests for this or that; Common merely said, “scream,” and they screamed. He said, “Let me see your hands,” and up they went. He ruled his subjects from the Groupon Stage with goodness and might, putting on a masterful show.

    A Chicago-centric show from start to finish, Common played up his hometown connection, even being introduced by the 27th ward alderman. He called out to people from the Southside, Northside, West Side; he called out to the “real people.” In the City of Big Shoulders, of course, that’s all you need to do to win ‘em over. Tracks like “Be”, “Real People”, and “Faithful” saw Common waxing philosophical on life’s real issues to a raving crowd, proving definitively to any doubters that raunch is not a requirement in popular music.

    common copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    With old-school rhymes over a simple backing beat, Common kept up an astonishing pace. At an electronic-heavy fest, his “light show” was simply the stage lights, the better to focus everyone’s attention on the MC. The crowd responded physically to songs they knew, surging forward, arms in the air, all eyes on the stage. Someone waved the flag of the city of Chicago high above the crowd. “Punch Drunk Love” brought down the house, complete with clever lyrics (“we exchange like students/ cuz I study abroad”) and Common flexing his vocal chops—actually singing—on the chorus. And that’s how you do it, folks. –Megan Ritt

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    STS9 – North Coast Stage – 8:30 p.m.

    sts9 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    After eight straight hours of dancing, the task of grooving to STS9 may seem like a small challenge, but the five-piece’s celestial live-tronica casts a spell over a crowd of nearly any size that just makes any discomfort simply vanish. The set was heavy on newer material, with the band choosing to start the performance with “EHM” off 2009’s Ad Explorata. The set also offered many fans the first opportunity to catch “Scheme” and “When The Dust Settles” from the fresh EP When The Dust Settles. However the highlight of the performance was a 10-minute presentation of 1999’s “Moon Socket”. Even stuck beneath the cityscape of Chicago, the track’s swirling guitar riffs, and driving bottom end transported fans to a place far above the cramped Union Park crowd…or maybe that was just all in our minds? -Derek Staples

    Fatboy Slim – Red Bull Stage – 8:45 p.m.

    fatboyslim5 copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Should anyone really have to follow Common playing to a hometown crowd? That’s a question that bears consideration after Fatboy Slim’s headlining set on the Red Bull Stage. While not technically bad, it was a return to the generic club mixes of earlier in the day, and after watching Common tear things up for an hour, it was frankly disappointing.

    Those whose drunkenness still compelled them to dance enjoyed the set a great deal, and there was something charming and Matrix-like to wild lights spiraling up from the dance party and illuminating the trees above. And Fatboy Slim is, after all, a pretty famous guy for a reason (more so in the late ‘90s, perhaps, but alas). His songs featured epic sweeps of guitar and synth, long swathes of electro glitches and dance beats that filled the air, music personified by the movement of the lights.

    fatboyslim copy Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

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    A number of his samples were not so much sampled but played largely in full. Tracks like 2Pac’s “California Love” and Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” ran almost unedited for long stretches. His mixes flowed together into one long, unending song. Finally growing exhausted after a long day of rain, heat, and music, the crowd began to drift away towards the waiting El trains. –Megan Ritt

    Sunday, September 4th

    The Budos Band – Groupon Stage – 3:30 p.m.

    budosband5 Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    The Budos Band’s brand of noisy, guitar-happy world music was a fine way to warm up on Sunday afternoon. Many folks appeared to sleep in after a long Saturday night, and so the place was just starting to fill up when The Budos Band took the stage. Led by melodic solos on the trumpet and a gorgeous old bari sax, the rangy collective took us through a number of slow-grooving tunes old and new, including “Vertigo” from their forthcoming 4th album and the aptly selected “Chicago Falcon”, which leads with a scorching horn riff.  –Megan Ritt

    Van Ghost – North Coast Stage – 4:30 p.m.

    vanghost12 Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Chicago was at its glory as Van Ghost took the stage: 73 degrees and sunny, with a light breeze and lazy clouds. The beauty of the scene had a good many concertgoers curled up on blankets around the edges of the crowd as Van Ghost entertained them through the dinner hour. Focusing on guitar-driven rock, Van Ghost had one of the more traditional sets of the weekend, although Jennifer Hartswick on vocals livened things up a bit. With a tremendous, powerful alto and a slight tinge of country, Hartswick added texture and flair to the proceedings. “Messenger” and “Domino Effect” went over well with the crowd, as did a cover of La Roux’s “Bulletproof”. –Megan Ritt

    Little Dragon – Groupon Stage – 5:30 p.m.

    littledragon3 Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

     

    Little Dragon’s indie pop is colored primarily by funky, Napoleon Dynamite-esque atonal keys. At times, the keyboardist evoked a full-on accordion effect from his instrument. Singer Yukimi Nagano swayed about the stage with a large scarf, at times wrapping herself in it, at times draping it over her head. The four-piece played quirky electro-pop driven by relentless bass and drums. “Please Turn” came out especially beautiful live, feedback static melting into a lovely, almost jam-style electronic puddle.– Megan Ritt

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    of Montreal – North Coast Stage – 6:30 p.m.

    ofmontreal Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    If Sunday started off calmly, of Montreal was there to remedy any sense of boredom. The audience was buzzing, pushing closer to the stage, eager to catch a glimpse. And oh, what glimpses there were! As the sun set, of Montreal took the stage in costumes: a pink, sparkly, prom-style dress, a ref’s uniform, something kind of giant boa a la Wayne Coyne. And the theatrics of the rest of the set certainly brought The Flaming Lips to mind again.

    Luchadores wrestling onstage, dancers in giant skull masks, a chain of long, thin balloons for the audience to play with, singer Kevin Barnes riding a giant rainbow-colored Chinese dragon made of masked people: The music almost took a backseat to all the antics. Almost. The quality of the music on tracks like “Suffer for Fashion”, “The Party’s Crashing Us”, and “A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger” crept through, a word or a fragment of melody here, impossible to hide even with all the visual distractions. Of Montreal are brilliant lyricists, and the line “What you want? Somebody that will corrupt your heart with too much kindness,” was quite striking on “You Do Mutilate?” Dance rock exploded from the speakers, escaping the guitars, conquering the audience.

    ofmontreal2 Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    The lyrics of “Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games)”—striking in its bouncy, cheerful melodic sway—sum things up rather nicely: “Let’s have bizarre celebrations…/Now it seems too lovely to be true/ but I know the best things always do.” –Megan Ritt

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    Benny Bennassi – Red Bull Grove Stage – 7:00 p.m.

    sun benny1 redbull Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Derek Staples

    Even at the age of 44, Benny Bennassi remains a true student of electronic dance music. Unlike dance musicians who stick fairly close to a genre, one never knows what to expect from a Bennassi set, except a ton of smiles from the crowd and the man himself. Best known for his pulse-pounding “House Music”, and more recently as “Electroman”, Bennassi worked Sunday’s crowed into a frenzy by effortlessly transitioning between tempos and genres. The Italian DJ started the set with a track eerily reminiscent of music ripped from a slasher film, moved into his well-known mid-tempo “Cinema”, which had roughly 40% of the audience singing along, and then shocked the crowd by spinning Skrillex’s dubstep remix of the track. The dubstep remixes continued with Bennassi’s grimey edit of James Blake’s “Limit To Your Love”, and then provided the same treatment to 2003’s “Satisfaction”. -Derek Staples

    Gogol Bordello – Groupon Stage – 7:30 p.m.

    gogol7 Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Have you ever seen Gogol Bordello live? If not, spoiler alert: However good you think they might be, they are epically better. It’s hard to imagine, if you haven’t seen it, the rising lava of excitement in the crowd as the accordion player wheezed a greeting, as the violin player bowed out his opening salvo, as finally and forcefully frontman Eugene Hutz barreled onto the stage bearing his acoustic guitar before him like a weapon, exploding straight into “Ultimate”. The crowd dancing, jumping, weaving in a mad circle, fists raised, shouting, “hey!” along with everyone onstage. Hutz ripping his shirt off, swinging the guitar, then playing while hopping about with one leg raised to waist height, next swinging his axe around his head. He threw it to the ground at the end of “Transcontinental Hustle” to a chorus of raging cheers. He changed the lyrics to that song for the hometown crowd: “When death comes I won’t be there/no I will not be found anywhere/Not in Nevada/Not in CHICAGO!”

    gogol2 Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011Single “Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)” raged hard and long, Hutz sloshing wine down on the crowd as he drank straight from the bottle, everyone screaming along now. Mosh pits seem so 1998, but there was what might be described as a friendly pit in the center of the audience. “My Companjera” and “Wonderlust King” both tore down the house. Gogol Bordello barely paused between songs, racing through a breathless hour of almost continuous music. The crowd sang along on “Universes Collide”, shouting the “hey hey hey/ nah nah nah nah” chorus in a lusty echo of the group’s vocals. The guitars on “Break the Spell” ripped deeper and wider than on the album, lacerating the air, drawing fists skyward.

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    For a closer, Gogol Bordello broke out the marching bass drum. As the first bars of “Start Wearing Purple” rang out, Hutz teased that they had an “old gypsy song” for us. The crowd went nuts, and Hutz started singing “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)” instead, a giant smile wreathing his contorted face. When after the first verse they circled back to “Start Wearing Purple”, the audience was on the moon. They called and called out for Gogol Bordello at the end– “Play one more!” “Play three more!”– but there was a festival schedule to adhere to. If there wasn’t, we’d all still be there now, watching the sun come up to a beautiful Gypsy punk chorus. –Megan Ritt

    Thievery Corporation – Red Bull Stage – 8:30 p.m.

    thievery14 Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    When Gogol Bordello finished, there were essentially two camps: those who still wanted to keep things going hard and fast and those who needed to chill out a bit. The former gravitated to the next stage to watch Bassnectar, while the latter wound their way back to the Red Bull Stage to take in opposite headliner Thievery Corporation.

    With a chill, slow-wave dance beat and reggae influences, Thievery Corporation gave the crowd a low-key jam set. Their female vocalist swayed and unleashed her ethereal voice in front of a driving drumbeat that connected the diverse elements of their mix. The sound of steel drums and a fat bossa nova horn lent things an island flavor. The throbbing beats of Bassnectar intruded a bit from the opposite stage, but Thievery Corporation just kicked up their own bass, inducing deep hip swaying among the masses. The beat was funky, and the crowd was drunk enough to dance.

    thievery7 Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Lilian Cai

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    “Radio Retaliation”, from the album of the same name, drew a response of recognition from the audience, with its deep reggae funk. It bled into technical, Arab-style, chromatic beats powered by the relentless rush of the live drummer. He was surrounded by so many iterations of his instrument that it was hard to tell at any given time which drum he was playing, or if the particular sound was coming from the effects panel instead. As the night wore on, Thievery Corporation’s jams smoothed out, a peaceful, gentle release out into the dark, away from the festival, from summer, and back to real life. –Megan Ritt

    Bassnectar – North Coast Stage – 9:00 p.m.

    sun bassnectar1 northcoast Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Derek Staples

    The progressive bass music of NorCal’s Bassnectar was easily the draw of the weekend. And while many suggest Bassnectar has shifted his production style more toward dubstep to attract the burgeoning market, I like to imagine that a larger music listening community finally respects his talent behind the tables and daunting tour schedule, plus the remixes of pop songs probably don’t hurt. Bassnectar’s closed the festival on a scale like none other, as a fellow Coaster mentioned to walking to Bassnectar, “I can hear Thievery Corporation, but I can feel Bassnectar”.

    After remixing “Bass In Your Face” with the instrumental of NIN’s “Closer” at the onset, Bassnectar dug deep to edit DJ Rush’s “Motherfucking Bass”, which asks a fairly straightforward question, “Do you like bass?”. After a resounding yes, Bassnectar continued on with the wobble-intensive set, including the well-received Bassnectar remixes of Ellie Goulding’s “Lights”, Blur’s “Track 2” (which also happened to be remixed by Benny Bennassi and Major Lazer the same weekend), and The Pixies’ “Where is My Mind?”. A suitable question to ask oneself after a Bassnectar experience.

    sun bassnectar northcoast Festival Review: CoS at North Coast Music Festival 2011

    Photo by Derek Staples

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    Compared to 2010, North Coast went above and beyond with artists’ visuals. As chaotic and fast paced as Bassnectar’s set, the images just always seemed to match, be it city streets, outer space, moving orbs, building blocks, junk food packaging, or hygiene products. And as if a sign by some divine force, the rain waited to break until the final drop of Bassnectar’s encore performance. -Derek Staples

    The Culture of North Coast

    Gallery by Lilian Cai and Megan Ritt

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