Photo by Phierce Photo | Keith Griner
Just last week, North Coast Music Festival announced a new home for the festival’s 10-year anniversary at the Huntington Bank Pavilion on Chicago’s Northerly Island this August 30-31. The peninsula juts out into Lake Michigan just East of the South Loop neighborhood, with the pavilion situated by a large grassy lawn and inland from the 12th Street beach. The skyline views from out here are unbeatable, and NCMF tweeted out a promise for a “new look, new vibe and new amazing lineup.”
If another Labor Day Weekend at NCMF with Bassnectar is your idea of amazing, you’re in luck.
Two days and two stages are the new “look” and “vibe” for the fest this year. What was once a three-day fest sprawling over three to four stages at Chicago’s Union Park is now a couple dozen acts on an outdoor amphitheater stage with a second stage constructed elsewhere and dubbed “The Hangar.”
The fest might be missing a day, but the lineup is heavy with talent and heavy with bass and hard techno. Over the last 10 years, NCMF has cultivated an identity that split between mesmerizing EDM and equally hypnotic jam bands. This year, the lineup is totally devoid of that piece of character, and where previous lineups once had the treat of Umphrey’s McGee or Vulfpeck, there’s now a heavy lean on dubstep.
Bassnectar and Flux Pavilion will headline opposite stages on Friday. Yung Bae, Big Wild and Jai Wolf take the Pavilion mainstage before Nectar on Friday while the Hangar stage dedicates an entire night to heavy bass with Dirt Monkey and Trampa up to support Flux.
The focus shifts on Saturday from dubstep to underground dance. Major Lazer’s Pavilion set on Saturday will happen only after Gorgon City and Tchami spin a healthy dose of house. Over at the Hangar, techno will reign early on with a set from mau5trap artist i_o before Australian DJ and past Coachella performer Anna Lunoe leads into an Ookay DJ set.
The fest was right when they called out a new vibe. The past several years saw a balance of electronic and live music that did not come into play this year. However, Lucas King and Michael Berg, the original founders of North Coast, say they are looking forward to what they’ve put together this year:
“After a decade worth of North Coasts, the timing is perfect for this new era of the festival to be ushered in.”