North Coast Music Festival Day 3: Until Next Year, North Coastizzle
By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 2, 2014 7:05PM
Another Labor Day weekend, another North Coast Music Festival in the books—the fifth to be exact. In many ways, 2014 was the festival's best year yet. Kid Cudi and Snoop Dogg marked two of React Presents' (the lead promoter behind NCMF) highest profile bookings to date. Three-day passes sold out well before the gates opened. Even the festival's layout was better than previous years. The expanded grounds made for a much less cramped southwestern corner of Union Park.
That said, something hung in the air this year that made us feel like our excitement level was hitting an invisible wall. It could have easily been the especially muggy weekend that put a haze on things. It could also be the fact that, after five years of an increasing number of major music festivals in the city, the special feeling we get when we're surrounded by sun, open air, sweaty peers and live music is becoming less exciting and rare.
Whatever the case, there's definitely a growing level of separation amongst North Coast attendees. Sadly, acts that we thought would be some of the biggest draws on Sunday, like recently reformed futuristic jammers The New Deal, were forfeited to high octane EDM sets by the fest's younger attendees. This year, the 630 Stage's (the stage that typically hosts the majority of electronic artists each year) surrounding grounds were expanded but now even the two smallest stages (playing host to local and little known DJs) seem to be outgrowing themselves. On Sunday, local dubstep go-to's Midnight Conspiracy's crowd was overflowing from the 847 Stage and by the time Wick-It The Instigator followed them up just after 5 p.m., the southeast corner of the park was unmanageable.
With that in mind, we made it a point to stick near the main stages for the rest of the day. We saw Riff Raff. We aren't quite sure what to say about Riff Raff. Was he entertaining? Yes. Was that rap music? We guess. Did our prediction that the performance would be more of an amusement than a musically respectable experience come true? Totally. His songs aren't far from contemporary mainstream hip hop radio hits in style but the content fits Jody Highroller's physical appearance much more appropriately. Songs like Diplo collaboration "Kokayne" are fun in theory, and to his credit were done justice in a live setting, but near impossible to take seriously.
Griz followed up Riff Raff's set on the shady 630 Stage. The Detroit producer's "hook" has always been his incorporation of the saxophone into his airy beats. However, his live set on Sunday left us wishing more of his progressive recorded material would have shown through and that his inclusion of live instrument accompaniment was more natural like, say, Big Gigantic or Pretty Lights. Instead, we were mostly granted big bass drops and crowd pleasing rap remixes. - Katie Karpowicz
Toronto duo Zeds Dead has become a household name in Chicago dance music. North Coast organizers React Presents seem to bring these two into town at least twice a year, and the massive crowd they brought to the festival's 773 Stage explains why. Capable of just about every genre under the sun, Zeds Dead covered dubstep, trap, deep house, and beyond throughout their hour and fifteen minute set. "Lost You" (featuring Twin Shadow), stood out among the mix as a definite highlight. The collaboration was an unexpected move for both parties, but the song works just as well in a massive festival crowd as it does laying back in bed with nice pair of headphones.
Fake patois aside, West Coast legend Snoop Dogg proved Sunday night that he is still king. The close-out set on North Coast's larger 312 Stage was a musical review of the Boss Dogg's last 20-years with only a smattering of his more recent "Snoop Lion" material. From 90s classics like "Gin and Juice" all the way to 2004's "Drop It Like It's Hot," the 42-year-old didn't miss a bar. Perhaps the most enlightening moment of the reborn rastaman's set came in the rapper's tribute to Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Playing songs by both artists, the notion was a pleasant display of just how far hip-hop has come in the past two decades. Fierce coastal rivalries are a thing of the past, and even the most original of gangsters can appreciate that. - Robert Martin
Snoop Dogg's was a surprisingly perfect set with which to close out this year's festival. We fully expected the classic rapper's performance to be a bit dialed in, but despite the hundreds (thousands?) of show's Snoop has put on before North Coast, he was fully engaged with the crowd and brought Coasties together for one last hour of fun before the anxious countdown to next year began again. - Katie Karpowicz