12 Unforgettable Moments of North Coast Music Festival 2013

north coast music festival

    north coast logo 2013

    Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival couldn’t land on a more appropriate weekend. Although the lineup is always eclectic, it’s wonderfully curated for the Windy City’s large collegiate demographic. Spread across three days of indie-dance, jam, hip-hop, and club beats, the team behind North Coast transforms Union Park into a massive “quad” for co-eds to reminisce on the summer, discuss plans for the upcoming year, discover some fresh tunes, and meet a herd of quick-friends. Set across five-stages, a leisurely stroll keeps revelers saturated in eclectic summer vibes, yet many Coasties choose to chill on the baseball diamonds and soak in the comfort of kindred spirits.

    There’s one major issue with establishing a festival as “Summer’s Last Stand”, creating something different than the dozens of other summer festivals that have been established over the last half-decade. Adding a fifth stage (opposed to two silent discos in 2012) and a massive Dos Equis viewing structure have enhanced the overall experience, but when it comes right down to it — how has North Coast differentiated itself from the likes of Summer Camp, All Good, The Werk Out, Electric Forest, and Camp Bisco?

    North Coast Up High

    Photo by Amanda Koellner

    In short, even though it might book similar talent (that will time-to-time play very similar sets), it creates a sonic snapshot of the diverse tastes of a specific city’s youth culture. And it may be true that North Coast doesn’t yet have the clout of Lollapallooza or the indie-credibility of Pitchfork; however, it doesn’t want to. It’s already satisfied with its own off-kilter personality — one shared by the millennials that have headed to Chicago to help (re)define a sense of self.


    As a sign of respect to Chicago’s many teachers and students returning to classrooms around this time, CoS has taken a slightly more analytic approach to examining the success of North Coast 2013. Utilizing a 2×2 matrix, we have plotted some of the more interesting happenings during the extended weekend. Since most festival goers appreciate something new, the x-axis has been designed to gauge the how the set ranged from “unexpected” to “fits within standard framework”. And the y-axis measures total satisfaction, because sometimes even the most expected sets, when executed effectively, can be mind-blowing.

    Quadrant 1: Satisfaction in the Unexpected

    Claude VonStoke Spinning Drum and Bass

    claudevonstroke 12 Unforgettable Moments of North Coast Music Festival 2013

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    As the co-founder of San Francisco’s Dirtybird collective, Claude VonStroke has gained world-wide recognition for his booty-bass mixes. Without the use of monitors during the first half of his Sunday night set, VonStroke skillfully blended a set of tech-house and drum and bass. Even though he had been known to spin drum and bass during his time DJing in Detroit, the genre has recently been absent from his label-repping sets. The blistering DnB tempo was unexpected, but following early sets by Datsik and Madeon, the amplified beats fit nicely within the days harder-edged EDM. With the monitors corrected, VonStroke moved into the more psychedelic bass of his forthcoming LP, Urban Animal, and demonstrated that a true DJ doesn’t need to be handcuffed by genre or faulty technology.

    Chicago Spends A Lot Of Time Looking Up Danny Brown Lyrics


    Photo by Lilian Cai

    For the Danny Brown uninitiated, the Detroit-bred emcee often sounds like Roger Rabbit attempting to rap through a broken oscillating fan. Despite a track’s beats, which are often based on slow-burning UK garage, Brown’s tongue is in a constant race against his brain to finish verses oozing of sexuality, obscure pop-culture references, and drug use. When the dude would finally run out of breath from running around the stage or jumping into the crowd, the undulating audience had no issue finished the verses from tracks like “Blunt After Blunt” or “Dip”. Hell, the crowd could even keep up with the fury of Chicago’s own SD to work though  “New World Order”. SD’s mic didn’t seem to be working at 100%, but it didn’t matter — the audience had the words on lock. When all the hysteria settled, it was a shirtless Brown that remained behind to speak with fans while the stage was being set for Rebelution.

    Discovering ProbCause After A Few Hours Of Wandering


    Photo by Derek Staples

    Following a lengthy weather delay on Friday, both artists and attendees looked slightly beaten. Most notably, AlunaGeorge’s debut US performance (which was reduced to only 30-minutes) seemed limp despite their best efforts. While wandering through the fields weighing the options of dealing with the Hot Topic-clad teens watching Mac Miller or grooving to the jams of The Werks, I happened upon the raw power of Chicago-based ProbCause. His rhymes had a social depth that challenged Saturday headliner Nas, and assisted with a live drummer, his vocals were dispersed through the intimate sent with an added buoyancy. After spending 30-minutes with the duo and hearing ProbCause transition from the angst of “Black and White” to the deconstructed beauty of “LSD”, you could see bodies finally warming amid the post-rain chill.


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