North Coast Music Fest brings beats, crowds to Chicago
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 15:09
Over the past couple of years the music industry has taken a dramatic turn for the worst. It seems that many of the artists today are more concerned with making money than producing songs they are truly proud of.
Electronic music has unfortunately become the most popular genre today. Many young people are hungry for bass drops and dirty beats that they can dance like they’re having sex to.
There are some very talented DJs out there, but many are simply trying to embody the incompetent man that was at least partly responsible for the mindless mayhem, Skrillex. They stand on stage incessantly turning knobs and begging for praise from the crowd.
North Coast is normally one of my favorite music festivals, and I’ve attended all three years of its existence. But after last weekend, I’m not sure that I will go next Labor Day weekend.
I didn’t feel that like-minded music lovers surrounded me. The people are usually the second best thing after the music. But the crowd this year was completely different than in previous years. It was saturated with rave “kandi” kid culture and the drug, dubstep-crazed teenagers sent out bad vibes that were felt by many.
Talk about a teenage wasteland. Boys and girls who were clearly in high school were walking around like hyped up zombies with dilated pupils and pacifiers in their mouths. Not to mention there were too many underage girls running around in underwear. They had braces on their teeth, but lacked legitimate clothing on their practically prepubescent bodies.
I’d rather see a good old-fashioned rock show and wear my patchwork overalls, but hey, that’s just me.
However, aside from the dubstep nonsense, there were still many talented acts that put on amazing shows throughout the weekend. And luckily most of my favorite acts weren’t appealing to many “base heads.” (Thank God!)
Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) was the most memorable act on Friday. The dudes from STS9 came on stage looking like rock star astronauts in their matching white uniforms, complete with a skinny black tie. They used the amazing visuals from their Great Cycles Spectacles, which also included a friendly alien voice that welcomed the crowd by saying, “Greetings to the inhabitants of the universe.” STS9 then kicked it into high gear to put on a show that was completely out of this world.
Beats Antique was the first full set I caught on Saturday afternoon. They have perfected their musical and artistic production so well over the past year. They know how put on a show! Zoe, a very talented belly dancer, performs on stage with big feather fans or bangs away at a big bass drum. The violinist also sometimes puts on a horse head mask. Beats Antique’s sound is heavily influenced by different music from around the world. Their music is percussion heavy, and often contains electronic elements as well.
Immediately after Beats Antique, on the adjacent stage, was Excision. Since I hadn’t checked out any of the electronic music all weekend, I decided to give it a chance because I heard it was kind of cool, at least for the visuals. My disdain for most electronic music is now solidified. His beats sounded like a computer malfunction. Even his visuals couldn’t pick up the slack because it was still light outside.
Future Rock and Atmosphere both put on great shows that I really enjoyed. But I couldn’t contain my anxiousness for the final act of the night, the band I was really there to see, Umphrey’s McGee. As usual they put on an incredible high-energy show. It grabbed a hold of your attention from the very first strum of the guitar in the opening song “Ocean Billy” and kept it until the very last slap of the bass in the final song “Puppet String.” These six guys are some of the most talented musicians still touring and making music today. Every time you see them live you can guarantee it will be completely different than any other show of theirs you have seen before. They often improvise on stage and communicate with one another using hand signals and talkback microphones. They do things on stage that most bands could never dream of doing. Umphrey’s McGee are true pioneers of the prog-rock genre.
When I waltzed into Union Park for the final day I heard the sweet sounds of one of Chicago’s most talented bands, Van Ghost. They had two females on stage singing and playing brass instruments, and if that’s not badass, I don’t know what is. Jennifer Hartswick has a powerfully soulful voice and each instrument holds its own in the band. There are times when the pounding keys are the focus, when the guitar is being shredded, and when the drums are beating away for your attention.
Big Boi commanded the North Stage as the big hip-hop headliner of Sunday night. He performed many of Outkast’s most well-known songs like “Ms. Jackson,” “Rosa Parks,” and “So Fresh, So Clean.” Most of the crowd was dancing and singing along to every lyric.
I saw about ten minutes of Pretty Lights, which was enough because I’ve seen him at least five times in the last couple years and it’s always been pretty much the same show every time ever since he ditched the drummer. That was a big mistake in my opinion: Drums make everything better.