Carpe Diem! Long Live Summer, Long Live North Coast!

north coast music festival 2011

    Chicago is already home to Lollapalooza and Pitchfork, but there’s always room for another major music festival. Always. That’s why this weekend, North Coast Music Festival takes over Pitchfork’s proverbial “summer home” in Union Park over the always bittersweet Labor Day weekend. But no sad feelings here, as the festival plans to savor every last minute and second of summer – which explains why festival founders are calling it “Summer’s Last Stand.”

    As with any festival, there will be plenty of moving, shaking, and dancing, especially given the lineup, which finds itself waist-deep in electronica and jam band talent. In some respects, it’s what every music festival should be: eclectic. Between sets by The Chemical Brothers, Nas and Damian Jr. Gong Marley, Umphrey’s McGee, The Disco Biscuits, Lupe Fiasco, and a DJ set by Moby, it’s hard to dismiss what will no doubt be one hell of a summer party. What’s the saying… save the best for last? Right.

    Recently, Consequence of Sound spoke with Michael Raspatello, one of the founders of North Coast, to discuss the lineup, how the festival came about, and what they’re expecting in its first year. As with any ambitious entrepreneur, Raspatello sees the Labor Day event as an annual gig and thinks Chicago fits well.


    “There’s room for it in this city,” he says. “There’s a crowd that goes to events all year long, time after time.”

    North Coast organizers plan to rope in 30-40,000 people in the park for the holiday weekend, quite a number for a small festival in its first year. However, Raspatello explains that he and organizers wanted to keep this festival as efficient as possible, setting little goals for themselves. If anything, he’d like it to be easier to grab a beer here than at any other festival. Some might argue those aren’t little goals, though.

    For a festival that arrived so late in the summer, and so late in the game, festival owners turned to social media to help build a brand. In fact, the online community helped shape up the festival lineup, too, as organizers listened to fans recommending bands, only to discover that attendees wanted electronica, hip-hop, and reggae. Raspatello says they were insistent about certain acts.

    “There was an overwhelming push to hire the Chemical Brothers,” Raspatello says, rattling off a dozen more acts set to play at the festival, “[It] makes a true dance party in the park more likely.”


    Though much to the chagrin of any Chicagoan, shows end at 10 every night, but taking notes from other festivals, festivalgoers have the option in attending a variety of after parties. On the topic, Rasaptello insists they’ll “keep the party going till one. We go quiet at 10 ‘indoors’.”

    For those unwilling to let the night take over, after shows of note include the Disco Biscuits with Jay Electronica & Orchard Lounge on Friday night at the Congress, a choice between Omega Moos w/ Wyllis and DJ Thibault at the Metro or New Mastersounds with Family Groove Company at the Double Door on Saturday, in addition to members of Umphrey’s McGee at the nearby Bottom Lounge on Sunday. And that’s not even half your options.

    Observing the lineup, Raspatello says the fest will fit a segment that isn’t quite covered by Lollapalooza or Pitchfork, calling North Coast Festival, “the people’s festival,” for those who “want a different experience.” He concludes, saying, “There are great fests already here. We’re about to add a third.”


    Always the charm.

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