When: Sept. 4-6 2015
Heading into its sixth year the North Coast Music Festival has established itself as a must-attend outdoor musical jamboree in a city with no shortage of must-attend outdoor musical jamborees. The think tank behind the three-day fest has shown off a distinct ear for arena-size EDM, party-friendly jam-band jams, and boisterous hip-hop. And this weekend North Coast returns to Union Park and goes beyond the endless guitar noodling and gut-busting bass drops of years past. Nothing underlines that more than the crown jewel of the lineup: D’Angelo & the Vanguard headline Saturday in support of last year’s Black Messiah.
D’Angelo is a huge get for North Coast, but he’s just one of the many acts spreading the fest’s reputation beyond three core genres. Sure, Friday night’s two big names—Widespread Panic and Knife Party—satisfy the jam and dance quadrants of the crowd. But the bookings as a whole fulfill the festival’s mission statement: find performers who play music for revelry.
This year’s standouts feature wistful electronic producer Golden Panda, veteran New Orleans combo Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and high-profile remixer Salva on Friday; unstoppable hip-hop band the Roots, good-humored pop duo Chromeo, and Galactic’s set-long collaboration with Macy Gray on Saturday; and Brooklyn synth-pop project Twin Shadow, Alaska rockers Portugal. the Man, and Minneapolis rap veterans Atmosphere on Sunday.
With seven stages—including one silent-disco tent—North Coast packs in almost too much. But a good portion of the 2015 lineup is reserved for locals, many of whom will help the fest forward its agenda of presenting pop without boundaries: Jazz singer Lili K. and indie rockers Ne-Hi certainly don’t fit the mold, but they’re two great Chicago acts on a lineup packed with them. Other notables are soul group the O’My’s, house veteran Green Velvet, rap duo Leather Corduroys, and in-demand producer Stefan Ponce.