North Coast snuck up on me in 2016. Ending a four-week festival run, I had almost forgotten it was happening amidst raging at Summer Set, UpNorth, and Dirtybird BBQ. But the time had arrived, and we headed to Chicago to get down with Odesza, Bassnectar, Baauer, Zomboy, and a slew of other bass-heavy acts. And while North Coast may have gotten the best of me on Saturday, resulting in missing memories and phones, the weekend as a whole was an amazing dance party.
North Coast made some big changes in 2016, getting rid of the smaller stage formerly known as 847 Stage, opting for a higher profile lineup rather than more artists. The decision seemed to pay off, as the lineup this year was its best yet, and didn’t result in excessive overcrowding at the remaining stages. They also switched things up with the Living Art Gallery, which has become a staple of North Coast, connecting it to the Silent Disco this year for a truly unique musical and artistic experience.
We arrived at North Coast slightly buzzed and ready to dance. Despite being my fourth festival in as many weekends, I was still energized for the weekend, driven by my never-ending desire to see Odesza. But before the boys from Seattle could once again steal my heart, there was plenty more to experience. We wandered around the festival, taking a basic-ass picture with the North Coast sign that would later go missing along with my phone, checking out Louis Futon and Hermitude at their respective stages, and slamming some free booze samples in the VIP area. Once we were settled in and sufficiently drunk, Baauer was taking the stage, and it was time to dance.
Baauer always throws down, and his trap-heavy sets never seem to feel repetitive no matter how many times you’ve seen him. Following Baauer’s sweaty dance party, we opted to cool off in the Heineken House, a unique stage that offers shade, air condition, beer, and deep house beats courtesy of Golf Clap and other DJs. After that, it was back to the Chicago heat to dance around like a basic bitch at Galantis. They might be basic top-40 edm, but god damn is it catchy and fun to dance to. But everything that happened during the day on Friday was just warm up for my most anticipated set, and what turned out to be the set of the festival: Odesza. Featuring a live band, their signature drum and keyboard set up, and the Chicago Bulls Drumline, Odesza blew everyone away, delivering a 90 minute set of nonstop vibes, dancing, and lights.
I have a bad habit of going the hardest on Saturday at festivals, and North Coast was no exception. Fueled by the excitement of day one and the anticipation of Bassnectar’s headlining set, we all started early and never stopped. I arrived at Union Park incredibly drunk, and ready to take a million pictures of my friends, because I somehow still know how to use a professional camera even when I’m being anything but professional. Brillz threw down an amazing afternoon set, and The Floozies absolutely killed it as a beautiful sunset engulfed the festival grounds. The weather was perfect on Saturday, and everyone was living life to the fullest. As darkness took over Union Park, Keys N Krates took over the festival, bringing their signature trap to the stage. This is where things get blurry for me, as I managed to lose my phone in the photo pit, resulting in a final 90 minutes of the festival spent searching, panicking, and finally, accepting my phone’s fate and enjoying the last of Bassnectar’s set, a fun yet largely unimpressive show for the bass master. You don’t realize how much you rely on your phone until it’s gone, but the time spent alone and disconnected from my friends allowed me to fully experience North Coast, albeit in a somewhat panicked state. I visited every corner of the festival in search of my friends, and there was no shortage of activities, vendors, and revelers around every turn.
After a tumultuous Saturday night that involved copious amounts of afterpartying and resulted in a brief stint sleeping outside on my friend’s balcony, Sunday seemed like an impossible task. But like the festival champion that I am, we made it back to North Coast early enough to catch everything we wanted, and were rewarded with even more bass. Zomboy threw down an almost inappropriately bass-heavy set in the afternoon sun, where kids who looked they probably hadn’t slept since Friday were raging and sweating out whatever they still had left in their bodies. Across the way, Polish Ambassador was throwing out vibes in the partially shaded Coast Stage, which is exactly what we needed. Matt & Kim brought their incredibly uplifting energy to the North Stage, and by the end of their set, I had forgotten about my hangover and my missing phone, and was ready to embrace the night. And embrace the night I did, because while most of my friends left me to see Umphrey’s McGee, the only friend that mattered stuck with me, and we fan-girled out to Zedd, who threw down one of the best sets of the entire festival. With incredible visuals and a setlist that spanned his own hits, sing-along top-40 EDM, and even some heavy bass thrown in for good measure, we never stopped dancing for those beautiful final 90 minutes of North Coast. It was the perfect ending to a roller coaster of a weekend, and a beautiful goodbye to festival season.
All photos taken from North Coast’s FB page and used with permission from REACT.