Whether it’s the abundance of co-eds, its claim as house music originator, bitter cold winters, ample brew houses, or some incendiary combination, Chicago loves to party during its limited summer months. The chaos of 2012 alone brought the early cancellation of two block parties (West Fest then The Mad Decent Block Party), plus the ban of Chicago production duo Flosstradamus from any more street level Windy City performances. For the third consecutive year, North Coast Music Festival (NCMF) marks the culmination of this season long exuberance, a hedonistic bookend for thousands of college-aged, and younger, revelers set to “YOLO” before returning their attention back to the books. For the sake of us all, let’s hope that sweaty dude with his eyes rolling into the back of his head isn’t planning a career in cardiothoracic surgery.
Since 2010, NCMF has brought together unique slices of the music spectrum, catering to fans of hype bass, European electro-house, jam-tronica, hip-hop, and select indie rock outfits. But as the Chicago club sound as shifted toward bass music, especially on bills produced by NCMF co-founders REACT, the mid-level and lower talent has become stacked with re-occurring producers. For the festival devout, NCMF 2012 offered very little that Midwesterners couldn’t have seen between festivals already held in Chicago, Michigan, and Wisconsin (Movement, Electric Forest, Spring Awakening, and Summer Set). Although the festival lacked seldom-seen talent or one-off reunions, the park still filled up quicker than a high school cafeteria – abundant in stereotypes from the rave princess to new hippies and lensless eyeglass devotees.
The majority of the festival ponders to hype, but it does so with a keen eye towards production. Main stage sets never overlap, the Red Bull Stage is custom designed and delivers an intimate experience for some of the biggest names in international dance, and the Dos Equis Stage has become a focal point for the festival’s riskier, up-and-coming talent. For those with enough energy, two silent discos enable the park to hold six total stages of continuous beats.
The Consequence of Sound team has covered a broad assortment of festival talent for our readers during this festival season, so instead of over-exposing big names, the following is an attempt to identify what is new, bold, and is set to move up the ranks by sticking closely to our festival rules of engagement. Don’t worry; we also captured massive amounts of pictures for the biggest names. Read, and then comment below about “what’s next” from your music library.
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, August 31st – Dos Equis Stage – 7:30 p.m.
This Asheville five-piece outfit is the future of jam-tronica, but due to lengthy technical issues Papadosio took the stage for a mere 30 minutes. In jam band terms, that is approximately three songs. Like festival headliners STS9, Dosio enveloped the crowd in intergalactic group instrumentals. With their new album T.E.T.I.O.S. (To End the Illusion of Separation) on the horizon, the penultimate track was a vocal driven post-rock anthem in the vein of Umphrey’s McGee. Lacking a powerful vocalist, the set hit its peak during the psychedelic interludes between multi-instrumentalist Anthony Thogmartin, keyboardist Billy Brouse, and drummer Mike Healy.
Friday, August 31st – Dos Equis Stage – 3:45 p.m
Steve Vaynshtok has only played a few lives shows under his electronic moniker AbdeCaf, but the former lead-guitarist hypes the crowd like a festival veteran. With only a few spectators to begin the set, Vaynshtok cued up the dub-influenced “Feed Your Brain” and demanded the fans pool themselves together for one united crowd. As Vaynshtok shuffled through “Old Flame”, “Fit for a King” and his new #MAGICALPOWERS tracks, the audience swelled beyond the young producers initial expectations. As a reward, he shared the news that Andrew W.K. may make an appearance on a future AbdeCaf EP, as long as Andrew W.K.’s manager quits being a dick. As AbdeCaf continues to grow into his live set, which features a keyboard and drum pad, he must streamline his backing tracks to keep the audience grooving throughout the show.
Sunday, September 2nd – Dos Equis Stage – 4:45 p.m.
The stage may have been small, but Thundercat (aka Stephen Bruner) filled the Dos Equis stage with a complete backing band for his six-string bass stylings. Accompanied by a fellow six-string bassist, keyboardist, and drummer, the set filled the vendor walkway with thunderous jazz-fusion. Known for his renowned bass abilities, Bruner also has a soulful baritone voice, exemplified on “Seasons” off of 2011’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse. In-line with the CoS tip to cover a track, Thundercat attacked the Flying Lotus co-penned “Mmmhmm”, which tested the group’s ability to stay on time during the track’s constantly shifting rhythms.
Sunday, September 2nd – Dos Equis Stage – 3:30 p.m.
First trained under the tutelage of the Cypress Hill/SOUL ASSASSINS crew, DJ Solo (aka Dave Abrams) is capable of spinning and mashing up just about any song title one could suggest. During Sunday’s set, Abrams added drumstep drops to The Doors and a trap twist to DJ Darude’s “Sandstorm”, aptly-titled “Trapstorm”. Abrams also acted as him own emcee, dropping some rave-rap verses over blistering dubstep. With such an expansive track selection, Abrams hit upon songs that kept passersby turning their heads and joining the overflowing crowd.
Sunday, September 1st – Coast Stage – 2:30 p.m.
After spending my nights at early morning afterparties, Com Truise‘s mid-tempo synthwave was the perfect primer for a busy North Coast Sunday. Moving between a bright yellow Mopho analogue synthesizer, laptop, and MIDI controller, Truise was able to live edit popular backing tracks from In Decay and Galactic Melt. Satiating the collective desire of nostalgia, the 80’s synth sounds were updated with a sustained bass line to keep the set from creeping into antiquated New Wave.