When: Sept. 2-4 2016
The best part of Chicago’s music-festival deluge, assuming there is a best part, is the guarantee that not a weekend goes by where you can’t see a few good-to-great acts playing outdoors (if that’s your thing). There are negatives too, though, and North Coast Music Festival, now in its seventh year, seems to suffer more than other multiday jamborees from the overabundance of fests that drain the talent pool. Largely celebrating EDM, jam, and rap, North Coast thrives on variety, particularly acts that don’t neatly fit into a Venn diagram combining big genre sounds. Still, this year’s bill feels familiar. How many times can dubstep producer Bassnectar and Indiana jam outfit Umphrey’s McGee play the event? Apparently three. But poke around the bill and there are plenty of choice acts, regardless of how many times they’ve previously appeared at the fest—there’s Memphis rap legend Juicy J, “shred pop” act Sleigh Bells, indie-pop wonders Matt & Kim, and D.C.-area MC Logic. Many of the best groups call Chicago home, be it soul singer and poet Jamila Woods or the string of old-school house producers performing Sunday: Gant-Man, Farley Jackmaster Funk, and the Chosen Few’s Alan King, Jesse Saunders, and Wayne Williams. And I can’t forget about local rapper and prison abolitionist Ric Wilson—though North Coast almost did. Wilson was initially left out of the “Toast the Coast Battle Royale,” in which locals who earn the most votes compete for a spot on the festival’s bill. The rapper, who’s currently celebrating his euphoric self-released EP Soul Bounce, received hundreds of votes—more than some acts in the battle—and forced the organizers to correct their mistake days before the competition. Lucky for the festival attendees.
Price: $60, $159 three-day pass