Not even torrential downpour and a lightning storm could stop concert-goers from going hard last Friday for the first night of North Coast Music Festival 2013.
After about a two hour delay, the gates to Union Park opened to performances from Aluna George's R&B stylings harking back to the 90's and RL Grime's hip hop-infused electronic dance music. The storms curtailed headliner Passion Pit's performance, but they still brought on a dance-heavy DJ set since 75 percent of their gear was damaged in the rain.
Due to a prior engagement, I missed Day 2 of North Coast which went off without too much trouble (except for that naked man who was tasered...) and was headlined by NaS, Afrojack, and Big Gigantic.
I was up and rearing to go for the beginning of Day 3 to see the incredibly energetic whysowhite open one of the festival's main stages on Sunday. This 7-piece funk band that calls Chicago home is a force to be reckoned with. Already having opened for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis under their belts, these guys took the stage like seasoned pros thrilling the early afternoon attendees. With boundless energy their three front men -- Nick McMillan and twin brothers, Charles and Davis Haines -- took turns on lead vocals each showing off their musical dexterity with their impressive voices and playing a range of percussive instruments all the while throwing water bottles, fruit, and an adorable stuffed dog (named Jean Claude) into the crowd. I've been listening to and photographing these guys for the past three years and I can only see bigger stages for them in the future. Lollapalooza, anyone?
Another standout for Day 3 was Gary Clark Jr. who brought with him the blues, rock, and soul of yesteryear. Clark melds together a southern rock country conviction with raw emotion transmitted through his gritty vocals and talent on the guitar. This well-traveled artist, performing at Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza, and even the White House for President Obama, has all the acclaim from critics and iconic musicians alike ready to propel him to international stardom.
Purity Ring comprised of Megan James on vocals and Corin Roddick on instrumentals created something quite magical and unlike anything else seen last weekend - the bridging of theatricality with electronic dance music. James delivered a mesmerizing performance with her floating, other-worldly voice while Roddick drummed up beats on a custom-made instrument that doubled as a light show enhancing the visual appeal of the performance and transfixing the entire crowd. A fan described their music as "perfect for weird and active sex." I haven't tested out this claim just yet, but what I did experience was transcendent.
Although cut short (grand finale Wu-Tang Clan's set was cut down to 45 minutes with the interruption by a National Weather Service announcement), this year's North Coast Music Festival brought together some incredible international talent that appealed to many different musical tastes. Kudos to React Presents, Silver Wrapper, Cold Grums Productions, Kingtello and Metronome Chicago for bringing about another fantastic Chicago music festival to round out the last days of summer.
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