Yeah, I’ve Been to North Coast Music Festival…Kinda
The inaugural year of North Coast Music Festival in Chicago was epic… I assume. My only experience with the festival was showing up extremely and unfashionably late, only seeing 1.5 artists at the actual festival, and 1.5 artists at the after party. However, it was an experience I continue to talk about almost 5 years later. While the relevance of this story to the actual North Coast Music Festival is simply location and association, the hope is that this awesome and unique roller coaster of an experience will stick with those on the fence about the festival, and those who may have attended that year’s festival.
The epic story is as follows: My 3 friends and I first heard about North Coast Music Festival through the many shows we had attended at the Congress Theater in Chicago. While its doors were still open (the venue shut down due to extreme fire hazards in 2013) the Congress was the place for EDM music at the time. Of course, there are always people outside at the end of the show handing out flyers, North Coast was one of them. The biggest EDM fan in the group saw the flyer and flipped his lid. The Chemical Brothers were going to be there! Oh Em Gee. The group had just released their latest album Further, which is an amazing album, and had just announced a limited tour with North Coast being their Midwest stop. The group had decided to come together again for the festival; however, due to work schedules and limited transportation, we were only able to make it one day. As if that wasn’t limited enough, we were going to arrive that day with only enough time to catch the last 2 artists for the day, Pretty Lights and The Chemical Brothers. Of course, we were slightly disappointed that were going to miss a huge chunk of the experience, The Chemical Brothers were going to make it all worth our while.
After driving the three hours to get to Chicago from Madison, WI, we hit traffic. After making it through traffic, there was a line literally down the block and around the corner for will call. We waited 45 minutes in line for our one-day passes. Sounds like a terrible story so far, but bare with me. The crew made it through the doors just in time to catch the tail end of Pretty Lights, including “Finally Moving.” This made it all worth while so far. We forgot about the traffic, our work schedules, and any amount of time we spent in line. We had arrived and we were finally moving. Then the time came for The Chemical Brothers. The stage for Pretty Lights was conveniently only spitting distance from the stage for The Chemical Brothers, and because we arrived so late in the game, we were towards the back of the crowd. A simple turn to the right and we were in a prime spot for The Chemical Brothers. The crowd didn’t even have time to get restless; The Chemical Brothers opened up with the first song on their new album and kept the hits hitting. They played “Believe” and even “Escape Velocity” in its entirety. We were in heaven. But as with all good things, it came to an end. Those with a ticket to the festival that day were able to attend the after party for Jay Electronica and The Disco Biscuits at the Congress Theater immediately following the show.
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally got a cab to take us to the Congress. Again, we didn’t want to miss anything so we were a little hurried. The cab driver said he understood where we were going but took us to The Congress Hotel instead of the Congress Theater! We were nowhere near the Theater and had to pay the extra fare to get us to the correct location. I guess you take the good with the bad, right?
Once we got to the Congress, it was deja vu with the line situation we encountered before we got to the festival. It was down the block and around the corner, we were around the corner. There was a service door near where we were waiting, and staff member (we weren’t even sure if it was a staff member at all, actually) opened the service door and waved us in. No one checked tickets; no one checked bags – we were in. This little tidbit to the story is particularly important to mention, because as anyone who has attended an EDM show at the Congress will tell you, their security check is more thorough than the NSA.
So, we were in; we were excited, and suddenly extremely confused. Jay Electronica was on stage but we couldn’t make out anything that was happening. The music didn’t fit his rapping; his rapping was incomprehensible, and the crowd was not having it. My crew all looked at each other with a “Do you hear what I hear?” kind of look, and agreed that it wasn’t just us. A few minutes into the performance, a crowd member apparently said or did something that Jay Electronica was not happy with, because he jumped off stage after him! The crowd went wild. Security went wild, and the confusion came to a climax. For some reason, following the altercation, Jay Electronica was allowed back on stage to attempt to finish his set. He had about an hour left to go, but didn’t last more than another 5 minutes. You always see it in movies, but I saw it in real life: Jay Electronica went “Everybody say HOOO!!” and the entire theater went “BOOOO!!” He couldn’t take the beating anymore, threw down the mic, and stormed off stage. His DJ was left to his own devices for another minute or two before security kindly escorted him off stage as well.
The crew was at a loss. What kind of night were we having? We had just driven 3 hours, waited in huge lines, saw 2 amazing artists and one get booed off stage! Now what?! The Disco Biscuits, that’s what. The group set up as fast as they could, and played a 3 and a half hour set (about an hour longer than their scheduled time) just so we could finish out the night with a bang.
If that story doesn’t get people’s brains churning about North Coast Music Festival, The Disco Biscuits, The Chemical Brothers, or even Jay Electronica, I’m at a loss for what will. We’ll give you an update on North Coast as soon as we hear it. For now, I know I’ll be waiting, and telling this epic story until the time comes.