North Coast Music Festival (NCMF), held in Chicago’s Union Park over Labor Day weekend, provided the perfect soundtrack for taking “summer’s last stand.” The diverse, multi-stage showcase was a well-balanced mix of performances by established and emerging EDM, neo-soul, jam band, hip-hop, indie, and house music artists. The music lineup, art installations, food booths, and overall enthusiastic vibe captured the pulse of what moves the Windy City.
Headliners Widespread Panic and the Chemical Brothers delivered for their devotees and won some new fans with spirited sets on NCMF’s first and last nights. Saturday night’s headliner D’Angelo and the Vanguard, however, completely missed the mark. The band started 20 minutes late and never gained momentum before it was cut off by the festival’s strict curfew. Hundreds of fans missed that unfortunate ending, though, because they were part of the overflow crowd cheering on Steve Aoki’s anthemic set and brilliant light show at the opposite end of the park.
In addition to Aoki, several other NCMF performances exceeded expectations and left festivalgoers wanting more. These acts are definitely worth seeing as headliners on their own tours:
The Roots were stronger than ever. The hardest working band in hip-hop opened with “Table of Contents (Parts 1 & 2),” dropped “Break You Off” and “You Got Me,” and closed with a cover of Kool G Rap’s “Men at Work.” Keen observers noticed that Questlove wore a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt in solidarity with the social movement while laying the beats for the band’s message. Most of their music revolution will not be televised, so follow @theroots on Twitter.