Written and Photographed by Breton Spiller
I had the honor of attending North Coast Music Festival (NCMF) 2019 in Chicago and had an amazing time overall. The festival was fairly well executed and every act on the lineup exceeded my expectations! With that being said, this experience was definitely different than those I’ve had at previous North Coasts.
As most people would agree, change is typically a good thing, but in the case of NCMF, I’m not sure if its entirely true. I had high hopes for the festival at the start of the weekend, and was not dissatisfied upon arrival, but also did not feel like I was attending the “North Coast” that I had come to know and love. Obviously, being at the new Northerly Island venue adds to that feeling, but it was not just the venue change that made things feel different.
To start, the separation of lawn and floor at the main stage impacted the family vibe of NCMF that we’ve come to know and love. I was able to spend time with the people I came to the festival with for its entire duration except for when we wanted to go to the main stage. Yes, the layout of the venue calls for a lawn and floor section, but I’m not sure if the festival necessarily has to actually acknowledge that separation.
The security was usually fine and just doing what they are hired to but, on a few occasions, I was faced with some rude and invasive security team members that just made me feel extremely uncomfortable which is NOT their job. If not already a concern, considering the various Facebook posts I have seen regarding similar issues with security, there should be some sort of measures taken to avoid this type of issue in the future.
Regarding vibe and venue again, once past the main stage, the rest of the fest was open to the entire crowd. You know how they say “the grass is greener on the other side” ? Well, it definitely was on the other side of the fence at the back of the main stage. The original NCMF energy was much more present there.
The biggest source of said energy was radiating from The Good Bus stage. The Good Bus team did an amazing job creating an equally intimate and rowdy experience. Every artist on their lineup played an amazing set and the team members I had the pleasure of meeting were beyond accommodating and fun.
The overall lineup for the entire festival was the best part. It was diverse and full of current power houses in the industry which made my job as a photographer and journalist super exciting. Stand out performances from the weekend include MeSo, Trampa, I_O, Tchami, Gorgon City and Jauz.
Along with fantastic artists, the production value at each stage was phenomenal. Huge shout out to the production and visual teams for enhancing each set with their work.
After my experience at the festival this year, I feel that there is a lot of hope and potential for the future of NCMF at Northerly Island if it is to continue to be hosted there. With just a few small adaptations to the structure of the event, the perfect mix of new and old North Coast energy can be achieved.
Can’t wait to see you all there again next year! Big thank you to the North Coast team for allowing us the opportunity to attend!