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The North Coast Music Festival returns for round three

Four stages and a "silent disco" host loads of dance music, hip-hop, jam bands, and indie rock—read up on a few of the most interesting acts

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For a third consecutive Labor Day weekend, the North Coast Music Festival takes over Union Park with a packed bill that draws from the seemingly disparate but surprisingly synergistic worlds of electronic dance music, jam bands, hip-hop, and indie rock. Sixty-nine acts will take to the festival's four stages over the weekend, and another 50 will spin for dancers wearing headphones at the Groupon Noise Refuge Personal Space Silent Disco—the DJs will perform two at a time on separate channels, and the headphones can be switched from one to the other. Among the fest's nonmusical attractions is a "Living Gallery" sponsored by the Reader, which will feature painters and graffiti artists working live all weekend. Tickets, festival rules, and more information—including a list of the many official afterparties—are available via northcoastfestival.com. —MR

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Paul Oakenfold
8 PM
Red Bull Stage
Legendary British DJ Paul Oakenfold is responsible for some of the best things that have ever happened to dance music and a good number of the worst. He almost single-handedly broke acid house in the UK, and he and fellow pioneers such as Andrew Weatherall brought together the pop world and the dance-music underground with production work for the Happy Mondays and other Madchester bands, in the process catalyzing the Summer of Love out of which global rave culture grew. Then again, he also popularized trance techno and helped Ibizafy EDM—but at least at this point in his career, his good deeds still far outweigh the bad. —MR

STS9
8:30 PM
Coast Stage
The late-90s electronica boom inspired a multitude of artists to hybridize dance music with other genres, but few have been as successful as Sound Tribe Sector 9. Playing an unlikely fusion of EDM and jam-band jazz-rock, STS9 has spent the past decade and a half touring constantly, building a devoted cult of hippies, ravers, and hippie ravers that's helped it become one of the most profitable live acts in the country. —MR

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Dan Deacon
2:45 PM
Coast Stage
On his previous album, 2009's Bromst, Dan Deacon underwent a dramatic sea change, expanding his tinny, spazzy electronic aesthetic into something gorgeous and cinematic. With the new America (Domino), the king of Baltimore's weirdo underground scene continues to challenge, subvert, and evolve, establishing his previous transformation as the act of a provocateur. He juggles hookless discord and delicate, elaborate quasi-symphonic passages—the lavish four-part suite "USA" is sure to sound confrontational to anyone who just wants to dance like an asshole during Deacon's set. Which is to say, a lot of people. —LG

Yacht
3:45 PM
North Stage
According to its website, Yacht is a "Band, Belief System, and Business," and the main business of core members Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans seems to be to make pop-inflected dance music with its roots in the form's early days. Their songs' plentiful hooks function as lures to draw unsuspecting listeners into what's effectively a multi­media performance-art piece that blends apparently earnest new agey cosmology, occasionally strident politics, and personal styles that I suspect the buyers at Urban Outfitters are keeping tabs on. —MR

Felix Da Housecast Northcoast

Felix da Housecat
4 PM
Red Bull Stage
Around the turn of the millennium, Chicagoan Felix da Housecat injected a louche glamor into house music, which worked out well for him when the scuzzy-glitzy electroclash crowd turned "Silver Screen Shower Scene" (featuring Miss Kittin on vocals) into an underground smash. He's since moved out to Atlanta and moved up to remixing the likes of Madonna, but he's still got an incorrigible freaky streak, which he indulged with 2009's He Was King, an album-length tribute to Prince at his purplest. And as his recent DJ mixes have proved, no matter where he goes, he holds on to his roots in funky Chicago house. —MR

The Rapture
6:45 PM
Coast Stage
New York postpunk band the Rapture lost some of its white-knuckle fury when bassist and vocalist Matt Safer left in 2009; his absence is obvious on last year's In the Grace of Your Love (DFA), which lacks the gnarled hooks of earlier efforts. But that's not to say that the band's latest album, which is more dance than dance-punk, doesn't have its charms—take for instance the pulsing, hip-shaking homage to Chicago house, "How Deep Is Your Love?" —LG

Atmosphere
7:45 PM
North Stage
Once the poster boy for angsty, tatted-up, blackout-­drunk post-teens, Atmosphere front man Sean "Slug" Daley has mellowed out considerably since the group's 2003 breakthrough, Seven's Travels. On last year's The Family Sign (Rhymesayers) he raps about personal responsibility (instead of about fucked-up people fucking other fucked-up people) with the unhurried confidence of a seasoned veteran—and the backing tracks, which include contributions from the touring version of Atmosphere, are among the best of the group's career. —MR

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Thundercat
4:45 PM
Dos Equis Stage
In most cases if you run into someone who's excited about a performance led by a jazz-funk bassist, you can assume one of two things: either he's the more annoying kind of jam-band fan (the kind that pretends to "get" jazz) or he's on better drugs than you are. Fans of bassist Steve "Thundercat" Bruner are the one possible exception. A member of LA-based experimental-­rap crew Brainfeeder, Bruner has played with Erykah Badu, Suicidal Tendencies, Flying Lotus, and Snoop Dogg, and on last year's The Golden Age of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder) he applies his compatriots' fractured approach to hip-hop to a strain of jazz fusion that's equally indebted to Squarepusher and Herbie Hancock. It makes a compelling argument for reviving a long-dead genre that a lot of people believe should stay that way. —MR

Big Boi North coast

Big Boi
7:30 PM
North Stage
Ardent OutKast devotees have long been vexed by the assumption, common among the group's casual fans, that Andre 3000 is the "creative guy" and plays off Big Boi, the "rap guy," like he's the straight man in a joke or something. But while Andre has lately seemed content with the occasional cameo verse (and convincing Rick Ross to let him do a guitar solo on his record), Big Boi has been releasing crazy-ass concept albums full of future funk that will probably sound shockingly modern to listeners two decades down the road—and now he's talking about collaborating with Kate Bush. So what if he doesn't wear hippie headbands? Give the dude a break. —MR

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