Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival couldn’t land on a more appropriate weekend. Although the lineup is always eclectic, it’s wonderfully curated for the Windy City’s large collegiate demographic. Spread across three days of indie-dance, jam, hip-hop, and club beats, the team behind North Coast transforms Union Park into a massive “quad” for co-eds to reminisce on the summer, discuss plans for the upcoming year, discover some fresh tunes, and meet a herd of quick-friends. Set across five-stages, a leisurely stroll keeps revelers saturated in eclectic summer vibes, yet many Coasties choose to chill on the baseball diamonds and soak in the comfort of kindred spirits.
There’s one major issue with establishing a festival as “Summer’s Last Stand”, creating something different than the dozens of other summer festivals that have been established over the last half-decade. Adding a fifth stage (opposed to two silent discos in 2012) and a massive Dos Equis viewing structure have enhanced the overall experience, but when it comes right down to it — how has North Coast differentiated itself from the likes of Summer Camp, All Good, The Werk Out, Electric Forest, and Camp Bisco?
Photo by Amanda Koellner
In short, even though it might book similar talent (that will time-to-time play very similar sets), it creates a sonic snapshot of the diverse tastes of a specific city’s youth culture. And it may be true that North Coast doesn’t yet have the clout of Lollapallooza or the indie-credibility of Pitchfork; however, it doesn’t want to. It’s already satisfied with its own off-kilter personality — one shared by the millennials that have headed to Chicago to help (re)define a sense of self.
As a sign of respect to Chicago’s many teachers and students returning to classrooms around this time, CoS has taken a slightly more analytic approach to examining the success of North Coast 2013. Utilizing a 2×2 matrix, we have plotted some of the more interesting happenings during the extended weekend. Since most festival goers appreciate something new, the x-axis has been designed to gauge the how the set ranged from “unexpected” to “fits within standard framework”. And the y-axis measures total satisfaction, because sometimes even the most expected sets, when executed effectively, can be mind-blowing.