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Have Questions About North Coast Music Festival? We Have Answers

By Katie Karpowicz in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 28, 2014 3:00PM

(Photo by Katie Karpowicz)

The weeks leading up to North Coast Music Festival never fail to remind us just how much we enjoy this music festival. While Chicago is home to many, many wonderful music and street festivals, a Goldilocks scenario always seems to set in by August. Some are too small, making us feel claustrophobic and congested. Others are so big and busy, we're exhausted before we even walk through the gate. North Coast in Union Park always feels juuuust right.

It's hard to believe that Chicago has been spending a half-decade's worth of Labor Day weekends in the park with North Coast acting as a portal into the worlds of hip hop, EDM, funk, rock and electronica. However, this year's lineup—featuring headlining shows from Kid Cudi, Bassnectar, STS9 and Snoop Dogg—won't soon let us forget the festival's fifth anniversary.

Along with being one of the most enjoyable ways to spend your holiday weekend, North Coast can also acts as a learning experience. Going into this year's festival, we have many questions that deserve answers. — Katie Karpowicz

Will there be more room to breathe?

Union Park and North Coast's layout typically provides plenty of room for Coasties but festival organizers React Presents promise even more space this year. Don't expect any major stage relocations from previous years but expanded park grounds could give us even more room to get loose and cut down on the occasional bottlenecking near the festival's third main stage in the southwest corner of the park, along Ashland Avenue.— Katie Karpowicz

How do you dance to Jazzy Instrumental Odd Future Covers?

BadBadNotGood first made their way into our consciousness after their YouTube video, "The Odd Future Sessions" went viral back in 2011. The video featured a couple of kids from music school playing an understated jazz medley that morphs into some of the L.A. rap collective's better beats from that year. Tyler, The Creator soon took notice, hyping the band to his rising cult-following at the time. Two years later, the Toronto trio have a slew of hip-hop covers under their belt and an entire LP of originals released in May. BadBadNotGood are among the first sets of the weekend at North Coast. With so much raving in store, this will be a chance to put on our dancing shoes and flex our old school cool at Union Park.— Robert Martin (BadBadNotGood plays the 847 Stage on Friday at 3:30 p.m.)

Will What So Not live up to their hype?

OWSLA (the label created by America's EDM king Skrillex) signees What So Not have been the talk of this year's festival circuit. The two Aussie producers behind the mainstream bass music beats, Flume and Emoh Instead, were rated one of the top performers at Miami's Ultra Music Festival and HARD Summer in L.A. Even if you've listened to no more than three EDM sets this summer, you still likely haven't escaped their hit "Jaguar."— Katie Karpowicz (What So Not play the 630 stage on Friday at 5:30 p.m.)

Which Friday night headliner should we see?

For fans of the stuff that really booms out of the speakers, Friday night is a tough call by any measure. On the 312 stage, you have American dubstep pioneer Bassnectar. A star in Chicago, the past few summers have found him headlining Spring Awakening, Lollapalooza, and even North Coast music festival to crowds of thousands. Bassnectar paid his dues on the festival circuit for years playing small electronic tents until the genre took off in 2010 and he was promoted to the mainstage. Lorin Ashton's pulverizing brand of bass is a monster that no other DJ has been able to successfully emulate. He is loved throughout the U.S. scene, and getting close to this set will be nearly impossible without some careful planning ahead.

On the other side of Union Park you'll find Swedish youngblood Alesso in his biggest Chicago moment yet. The 23-year-old progressive house DJ comes from a long line of Swedish dance royalty including Steve Angello and Avicii. Alesso goes straight for the feels with intense vocal tracks that draw up all the emotion before breaking down into mega house tunes. These are the anthems of European festivals like Tomorrowland. The kind of music that concert steam cannons were made for.

More than any other night at North Coast, Friday is the ultimate dance party and there’s no wrong choice of who to see.— Robert Martin (Bassnectar plays the 312 Stage on Friday at 8:30 p.m. and Alesso plays the 630 Stage on Friday at 8:45 p.m.)

How fired up will Talib Kweli be on stage after his recent trip to Ferguson?

Talib Kweli has never shied from social or political involvement so it was no surprise to see him amongst the celebrities who visited Ferguson last week. He even engaged in a heated, almost childish, argument with CNN's Don Lemon while there. Let's hope he brings some of that spark to the stage on Saturday.— Katie Karpowicz (Talib Kweli plays the 312 stage on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.)

Talib Kweli photo via his website.

Will STS9's live show suffer without bassist David Murphy?

Sound Tribe Sector 9 are no strangers to North Coast Music Festival. They headlined the fest in 2011 and 2012. Sadly though, this will be the electronic jam band's first Chicago show since the departure of bassist, founding member and onstage ringleader David Murphy earlier this year. In the past, it's been hard to break concentration from STS9's live shows. Hopefully they won't have lost any flow. Coincidentally, Murphy's new project Seven Arrows plays Concord Music Hall the following Friday.— Katie Karpowicz (STS9 play the 773 Stage on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.)

Can we hang out with Wick-it the Instigator?

A Nashville EDM export, Wick-it the Instigator brings his outlandish remixes of everyone from Johnny Cash to Action Bronson to North Coast on Sunday. When he isn't busting out the big bass, Wick-It is a hip-hop pro, mixing entire sets on vinyl for the hell of it. Wick-It is a DJ capable of anything, with no single genre to his name. Outside frequent SoundCloud releases, the producer is highly active on Facebook and Twitter where he regularly communicates with fans and dwells on the finer points of the industry. So seriously, can we grab a beer or some wings with this guy after his set?— Robert Martin (Wick-it the Instigator plays the 847 Stage on Sunday at 5:15 p.m.)

Riff Raff, photo via his Facebook page.

Is Riff Raff actually talented?

You see them every year at music festivals: the spectacles. They draw huge crowds but no one actually knows the songs. I'm calling out Lil B at Pitchfork last year and Iggy Azalea at Lollapalooza earlier this month as these types of amusements. If I had to guess, Riff Raff will undoubtedly be this year's spectacle performance at North Coast. Maybe the cornrowed, grill-faced white rapper will prove naysayers wrong though...maybe.— Katie Karpowicz (Riff Raff plays the 630 Stage on Sunday at 5:45 p.m.)

Are the Floozies ready to headline?

Funktronica duo The Floozies have made it a long way from playing the cozy "JazzHaus" in their hometown of Lawrence, Kansas. Brothers Matt and Mark Hill are a critical component to the rise of the future funk genre. The style finds laptop engineers with a penchant for horns and live instrumentation exploring a new corner of the dance music spectrum. The headlining slot on Sunday night against the legendary Snoop Dogg is a major boost for the two. This sort of exposure is sure to spread their funkafied vision of electronic music to a whole new audience. We're not in Kansas anymore.— Robert Martin (The Floozies play the 847 Stage on Sunday at 9 p.m.)

Will we get Snoop Dogg Classic or Reggaeman Snoop Lion on Sunday?

Snoop Dogg is one of those rappers that constantly teeters on the verge of becoming a caricature of himself. He built his career on slick lyrics about smoking weed and doing it doggy style but Snoop's recent ill-advised reggae side project and downright goofy public demeanor have knocked his rap skills out of the spotlight. Let's hope the fact that he's billed to the festival as "Snoop Dogg" instead of "Snoop Lion" means he's ready to show Chicago he's still got it.— Katie Karpowicz (Snoop Dogg plays the 312 Stage on Sunday at 9 p.m.)

North Coast Music Festival is in Union Park on August 29-31. Three-day passes are sold out but single-day tickets are still on sale for for $69.