Labor Day has always signaled the end of summer, but as of last year, Chicago has a new way to mark summer’s exit: North Coast Music Festival. Think of it as Lollapalooza’s little brother, with a more homespun feel than Pitchfork. So as we prepare to gather for one last weekend of music in this fair city, we present to you our favorite acts taking the stage in Union Park.
The Hood Internet – 4:30 at Red Bull Grove Stage
If you were big into that Jay-Z/Linkin Park collabo back in the early Naughts, or if you’re jamming to Girl Talk now, you should probably plan on catching The Hood Internet put their spin on the mash-up genre. While their sound is not quite as frantic as Girl Talk, they still manage to be captivating with the songs they choose to mash, using indie, hip-hop and pop in their selections. A quick jaunt over to their website shows they’re pretty damn good at Photoshop, too.
Perfect Kiss – 6:15 at Magic Hat Local Stage
Appropriately named after a New Order song, Perfect Kiss is the second coming of new wave. Hailing from Pilsen and Little Village, they’re also one of the few Latino acts performing. And get this, they play instruments beyond laptops and turntables: a rare feat on this lineup. Local, Latino and able to strum a guitar? We call that a perfect trifecta.
Wiz Khalifa – 9:00 at Red Bull Grove Stage
Fresh off of a Best New Artist loss to Tyler, The Creator at the VMAs, Wiz closes Friday night with his brand of smoke-filled party anthems. He’s got a few hits under his belt now, and even more collaborations, including one with the new incarnation of Sublime. And even though this is Bear country, you’ve got to admit it’s hard not to sing along with his ode to Steeler Nation.
The Right Now – 12:30 at North Coast Stage
The booming voice and soulful horns of The Right Now ooze emotion. If you listen to the music with your eyes closed, it’s easy to believe you’re listening to a 60’s R&B group. But The Right Now is from right now, and right here in Chicago. Be sure to head out early on Saturday, because we think they’re a great way to start off Day 2.
Rubblebucket – 1:30 at The Named After Groupon Stage
Jazzy, poppy, dance-y, funky: it’s hard to find the right combination of words to describe the upbeat vibes this group emanates. While the video to “Came Out of a Lady” reminds us of a nightmare we once had involving the parachute from gym class, Rubblebucket will no doubt get the crowd warmed up and moving for the rest of Saturday’s performances.
BBU – 5:45 at Magic Hat Local Stage
If the Chi don’t dance no more, it’s because we can’t stop juking to BBU. These local boys will not only have feet moving but brains thinking with their socially conscious, provocative lyrics. Case in point? Their latest joint featuring Das Racist. When else has a song that name drops Jan Brewer, Nat Turner and Reaganomics made you want to dance?
DJ Solo – 1:30 at Red Bull Grove Stage
We’ll be honest, we didn’t know much about DJ Solo until the North Coast lineup was announced. But a quick trip over to his YouTube channel had us wondering aloud, “WTF?” Muppets, The Ramones and the theme song to The Office all get thrown into the mix and we can’t help but think it’s crazy enough to work.
Loyal Divide – 5:00 at Magic Hat Local Stage
This group made it on to our radar via the above video alone. But they are more than just that visually arresting video. Their Radiohead-esque sound is one that’s sure to permeate every blade of grass and every leaf on every tree – truly something you’re not going to want to miss.
Gogol Bordello – 7:30 at The Named After Groupon Stage
The nice thing about North Coast is it ends on the day before Labor Day, so you have Monday to recover from all the craziness. Which means you have no excuse not to check out the sweaty, gypsy punk rock circus that is Gogol Bordello. And a little word to the wise, when they say “start wearing purple” they don’t mean throw on a Lakers jersey. They’re talking about red wine, and you will most likely be sprayed with it.