North Coast Music Festival - Day 3

There was almost nothing going on in the afternoon at North Coast. DJ Solo opened the Red Bull stage, but the next act I cared to see was Little Dragon at 5:30. So, Five and I took the train and headed downtown for the afternoon.

We finally go the chance to visit Wow Bao, an Asian fast food place that Five had wanted to go to for a very long time. We had some lunch, and took a tour of Grant Park and Millenium Park. We took pictures of the bean and the fountain. After that, we headed to Rotofugi to take a look at some art and toys.

I love this shot.  Mostly because the panoramic assembler magically cropped out that girl's boyfriend. Also, if you zoom in, you can see me!

I love this shot too. It's unfortunate that I didn't take enough photos to cover the problems that ICE had putting them all together, but it still looks magnificent. I think this is one of my better panoramic photos.

This one is neat too. :)

Anyways, afternoon became early evening, so I made my way back to North Coast. I made it just in time to catch Little Dragon begin their live set on the main stage. And they were nothing that I thought they would be. I was in the mood to dance and hop around, and these guys were some indie hippie electronica band. Not what I wanted...

I took some pictures, grabbed some food, and waited for ATB to perform on the Red Bull stage.


I think everyone had the same idea because when ATB climbed on stage, the surrounding crowd grew immensely. And everyone threw their hands in the air, and hopped up and down, which created a massive dirt cloud. Yesterday, the rain and the crowd had turned the park into a mud pit, and today all that mud had dried into dirt. And now that dirt is in the air, along with all the horrible cigarette smoke. At least it's 70 today, instead of 90.

ATB's set was pretty vanilla for him. It was nearly identical to his set from early 2010 in Minneapolis. He opened with ATB - Ecstasy, and followed up with boring trance, all the while sampling (teasing) his classic track ATB - 9pm (Till I Come), which he never fully played.

ATB is the king of mediocre trance. There's no way he could follow Andy Moor from last night. And you could tell he had to fall back on pandering to the crowd when he played the Woo Hoo song (Blur - Song 2). Really?!

I find it rather odd that ATB is the only representation of Trance at North Coast, and he's not even that good. They couldn't find anyone from Armada or Anjuna that wasn't busy this weekend to play some decent trance? They had Paul van Dyk last year for gods sake...

Benny Bennasi

ATB finished his horrid set, and left the stage to Benny Bennasi. His sound was very raw and energetic. He primary sticks to Electro House, but his sound is very Club House or Big Room or whatever you call it. Unlike horrible hacks like David Guetta, he kept to a cohesive beat, which makes it actually danceable. It fits the festival perfectly.

But I think the weekend had started to takes its toll on me. After a fantastic Day 1 and 2, with nothing really going on for Day 3, and horrible ATB, I wasn't feeling the vibe at all. I wanted something that actually spoke to me and set itself apart.

I stuck around for almost his whole set before wandering around the fest grounds again. I should have left earlier so I could've caught Of Montreal, but oh well. I didn't feel like staying for Bassnectar or Thievery Corporation, so I left to find some more delicious Chicago pizza at Gino's East.

I returned to Union Park just in time to hear the closing sounds of Bassnectar on the main stage, but I was outside of the park at the time. I was waiting in line for tonight's after party at Transit.

Steve Bug & Ida Engberg @ Transit

I've been to most clubs in Chicago, but I had never been to Transit before. It had a very different floor plan than all the places I'm used to. The only club that I could compare it to is Trinity in Seattle. It had 3 completely separate rooms stacked with some major underground talent.

Kate Simko, DJ Heather, and rave-legend Woodie McBride ran things in the red room off to the side. While a few other Chicago DJs opened for Minneapolis legends Jack Trash and Tyler Hampton in the loft room off to the other side.

The main room was in the center of the club. The DJ booth was off to the side, and played itself off as an unimportant decoration. The real focus was the circular dance floor in the center of the room. It was aligned with VIP seating, speaker towers, sub woofers, and ceiling speakers. Once you entered the circle, the sound was immense. There were very few places you could escape the full wrath of sound.

This night was incredibly nostalgic for me. The openers in the main room played the type of House music that I grew up hearing in Minneapolis events. It felt like all the non-Trance DJs in Minneapolis knew everything there was about House and nothing else. At the time, I really wasn't into it. The beat just kept going and going and going. It changed when tracks changed, but it never really evolved into something else.

Though, when Steve Bug took over the decks that classic House sound definitely evolved. It moved from repetition to something more layered and spacey, but kept the classic nature. He blew those openers out of the fucking water.

He is different, and hard to describe. It like someone switched off the "suck" in the club, and made it awesome. Those openers weren't in the same league as this guy. Not even close. He pounded the club with some jagged smooth beats. It was definitely a surprise.

The crowd didn't really seem to notice for some reason. It was really a somber night for the kids in Transit. Most of the club was dancing and hanging out, but no one was really whipping them into shape. The club's layout really didn't put an importance on the DJ, so maybe it was better to create a vibe to enjoy, rather than pander to the crowd and make them pay attention.

I have a feeling that Steve Bug was holding back just a little bit. He created an amazing atmosphere, but he wasn't tearing down the place. I think he left that for Ida Engberg, because the crowd totally changed when she took over.

She finally showed up around 2am, and started off a track or two that built off of Steve Bug's atmosphere. It was electric and energetic. The crowd started hopping up and down, and cheering her on. So she reciprocated by bringing the thunder.

The rest of her set tore the place down and everyone went nuts. Everyone in the whole club was on the dance floor, and completely ignored the DJs in the other rooms. I didn't even realize there were this many people in the club.

I rocked out to her set for about an hour. I left around 3am, as it had been a long exhausting (amazing) weekend, and I had 150 miles to drive in front of me.

Overall Thoughts

This had been one of the best weekends out of the year for me. It's really hard for me to choose between heading to Seattle, visiting Ace & Jess, and attending PAX, versus heading down to Chicago for North Coast. Both are the best weekends, and I'm really glad PAX was held one week earlier this year. Last year, I did half North Coast and half PAX and I feel my overall experiences of both were lessened. This year, I attended the full breadth of both and they really can't compete with each other.

As mentioned, James Zabiela and Carl Cox were total stand outs for me, along with Ida Engberg and Steve Bug following them up. I hope that next year, North Coast is able to bring the amount of variety and quality they had this year. Also, I hope they fucking bring more than ATB to represent trance, ugh...

In terms of numbers, I read that they were able to get 50,000 people into Union Park this year, which is 10,000 more than last year. They should have plenty of cash to make next year even bigger.

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