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North Coast Music Festival, Day One: Storm Delays, But Doesn't Derail

By Katie Karpowicz in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 31, 2013 5:40PM

The irony of Chicagoist's North Coast Music Festival preview for day one is almost comical.

We tried to help you plan out your day hour-by-hour, and what happens? A storm delay knocks the schedule all out of whack. We recommended you to choose a live band over a DJ for your headliner. Again, what happens? The live band ends up doing a DJ set anyway.

Go figure.

Day One of the North Coast Music Festival was full of unexpectedness, sure. But, luckily, the unpredictability mostly added to the overall fun.

Perhaps the biggest news of the festival was the massive storm that passed through during its peak hours. Three or four songs into Capital Cities' 5 p.m. set and the festival —literally —pulled the plug on them as they tried to squeeze their radio hit "Safe and Sound" in even after the announcement of a weather delay came.

National weather service announcements rang through the stages' speakers and security ushered young ravers towards Ashland. In North Coast's four years of existence, a weather-related evacuation like yesterday's has never occurred. This writer was a little nervous as to how it would exactly go.

To my delighted surprise, North Coast—and its React Presents backers—could not have handled the situation any better.

The evacuation seemed smooth and I admit to scurrying home before the first raindrops fell. The storm left festival-goers stranded everywhere from nearby Bottom Lounge to underneath parked truck beds but for the most part the crowded was dedicated enough to sticking it out.

By 7:30 p.m. or so, word broke out on social media that gates had reopened.

The park held up amazingly well considering the downpour and the schedule was seamlessly rescheduled with a new plan to keep things running until 11 p.m. It was a delay that easily could have resulted in chaos, but the festival crew handled it like champs.

Just before 8 p.m. the bass started booming, and everyone already back in the park darted towards the Last Stand stage.

RL Grime was every bit the dirty, mucky grimefest I'd hoped for -- and that's not a reference to the state of the park grounds. Trap is yet another popular subgenre spat out by the EDM machine, but, if you've grown tired of hearing the same poppy Clavin Harris songs time after time, it's one to stick with.

Its low-end, percussive beats lend perfectly to interjections of hip hop, and it's much more dance-enabling than than the glitchy, start-stop rhythm of most dubstep. Grime's energy was exactly what the festival needed after having its momentum thrown off.

The reschedule pitted Mac Miller's main stage appearance against ProbCause's set on the teeny tiny tent stage.

Despite a modest crowd -- which maxed out at about three dozen people -- ProbCause still left an uncontainable grin on this writer's face. His mixtapes are more slowburns than, say, Chance The Rapper's. They lack that instantaneous "This is going to blow up!" reaction that Chance inspires.

His live show, however, was light years past Chance's awkward, inaccessible Lollapalooza performance. Any rapper who can flow at Prob's rate for 45 minutes without showing any signs of vocal fatigue is okay in my book.

Add in his freestyling, beat-boxing, and his ability to translate a range of feelings, from heartache to lackadaisical playfulness, on a stage that's smaller than a walk-in closet, and his show was definitely a success. An appearance from fellow Chicago rhymer Psalm One also didn't hurt one bit.

As the crowd assembled for an anticipated live show from Passion Pit, the presence of a large DJ stand dead center on the stage caused a buzz throughout the crowd.

Then word trickled back that they "weren't going on." Confusion swelled until 10:15 when the band's frontman Michael Angelakos appeared from behind the stand and announced that PP's equipment had been "destroyed" by the storm earlier.

In lieu of a live band performance, the band would be doing a DJ set.

After deciding that the festival circuit had heard enough Empire of the Sun and Knife Party remixes this summer, I decided to cut my losses and head towards the back of the park after about 20 minutes.

Passion Pit was the biggest bummer of the day but luckily it was only the first night of the festival. When life gives you lemons, you go home early, drink some lemonade and rest up for the next two days.

It's looking like a rainy start to day two, but I'll be there umbrella in hand and ready to rock.