North Coast 2012

Originally posted on Undercover Clubber on  Tuesday September 18, 2012

It’s been two weeks since “summer’s last stand” or Chicago’s 3rd annual North Coast Music Festival and I’m still having a hard time putting into words a concise non rambling review.  I’ve also been attempting to judge North Coast by its own merit but I do have to compare it to Spring Awakening (which I attended) in order to make some of my points clearer.

The Good:

Lineup – Unlike Spring Awakening North Coast focuses on 3 genres of music not 1; hip hop, EDM and jam bands vs. just EDM respectively. This is not to say that Spring Awakening was not a great festival to attend, but it’s good to get away from the heavy bass lines and drops even for a few minutes to catch your breath. The music selection also ties into the crowd.

Crowd- With a mix of new age hippies, hipsters (for the jam bands) hip hop enthusiasts and of course the ragers, you saw a pretty diverse crowd which added to the festival experience. This is somewhat comparable to Electric Forest minus the hip hop enthusiasts.

Vendors- I know there are many vendors at each music festival one attends, but North Coast’s selection of merchandise, food and beverage vendors seemed larger. Some vendor tents did run out of water towards the end of Sunday, but the variety of products attendees had to choose from should be commended.

Prices – Clothing was roughly 20-25$ a Dos Equis beer was $6 red bull $3 and water $2. I don’t think those are bad prices at all when other festivals would charge you $5 for water or upwards of $8 for a beer.

Other – With Groupon hosting its own huge tent with a silent disco (everyone entering received headphones with 2 channels, each channel had a different DJ spinning you could alternate between the two) and Dos Equis having its own birling arena, it kept festival goers occupied while they waited for their favorite acts to hit the stage. There were some performers spotted that walked around all which contributes to a festival feel.

The Bad:

Location – Last time I checked React Presents claims that over 45000 people attended North Coast over the 3 day weekend.  That’s only 5000 less of what React claims showed up to their first Spring Awakening Music Festival. The difference is that the 50000+ at Soldier Field had a lot more room to move around. There was never a time where you couldn’t get through from one stage to the next. This should be addressed if North Coast continues to grow in popularity. Union Park might not cut it in the next few years.

Stage Set up- I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I think the North and Coast Stage are way too close to each other.  This not only left many gaps in scheduling acts for both stages (when you look at the schedule, acts alternated between the two stages) but also caused a huge stagnant crowd to form very close to  the main part of the festival.  My suggestion is consolidate to 3 stages giving enough room for maneuverability between stages or maybe put in some kind of other entertainment in the open space. This would also potentially allow that one stage (Dos Equis Stage) to be closer to the major crowds and not stuck in a corner of the park.

Water Refill Stations – With the crowd getting larger each day of the festival which actually caused some beverage tents to run out of water; couple that with Chicago humidity (especially Sunday after a drizzly Saturday evening) it was a no-brainer for North Coast organizers to have water refill stations set up around the festival grounds. The only problem was, I was only able to locate one, which had a 30 minute wait for it by Sunday. Now I know it wasn’t like Spring Awakening where we had the scorching heat of a mid July Chicago summer, but there should have been more water refill stations.

Summary – All in all North Coast Music festival is a great way to end your summer, with a variety of acts and activities that will keep you entertained all 3 days of the weekend. But be prepared to fight your way through the crowds progressively throughout the weekend which makes getting around and getting some food or beer a hassle. I’d like to point out that even though Union Park gets filled quickly it is easily accessible by the green line (even though the stop was packed with people in the evening) and street parking was not that hard to find within a few blocks of the entrance all 3 days.

Electric Forest 2012

Originally posted on Undercover Clubber on Saturday July 7, 2012

Enchanted from 6/28/12 till 7/2/12

So for those who actually follow this blog you know that I drove up to Rothbury Michigan over the weekend for the second annual Electric Forest Music Festival while most of Chicago was partying on Montrose beach for Chicago’s first annual Wavefront Music Festival. Words almost cannot describe the vibe that permeates everyone and everything at this festival but I’ll try my best to share this epic experience with you.

Given that this was only my second music festival ever (never been to North Coast or Lollapalooza, Spring Awakening was my first) I came in with pretty much a clean palette of expectations; which were blown away. Not only is this 4 day music festival filled with amazing bands (many of which I’ve never heard before) the DJ line up was great as well. Add to that camping which is half of the fun since you are meeting and partying with new friends till the sun comes up and a forest that was transformed into a crazy laser filled wonderland with surprises and artwork around every corner. Even if you weren’t trippin, you were trippin when you walked into that magical forest. Everyone here was friendly and just happy to be there to experience everything. I did not have a bad interaction with anyone that I met.  The music fit the atmosphere well too; many bands were dub, dub electronica, jam bands or just a mix of electronica with some instruments (Big Gigantic) as one example, which worked very well. String Cheese Incident had 3 3-4 hour shows and they were great too, especially if you needed to get away from some bass drops for a while.

The festival held different events in order to get people engaged with a food drive (Roy Price Memorial Food Drive) from which you were rewarded a free limited edition poster if you brought 20 non perishable food items to donate. Add to that Electrocology, or in normal terms a recycling competition where every time you brought a bag of recycled material (beer cans, plastic bottles, paper) to a specific location you received an “eco point” which then could be redeemed at the vendors for merchandise. Each trash can location was split up into compost recyclables and trash to promote keeping the grounds clean and to make it easier to drop off recyclables for the competition.  There was also the ultimate camp competition which encouraged people to get creative with their campsites. A winner was chosen on Saturday of the festival. The winning camp received 4 free tickets for next year and I believe a very special VIP show by some artists. During the entire weekend you also had performers walking around the different venues. From jugglers to magicians to people walking on stilts and even “statues” just added to the wonder of the forest and event.

The festival had vendors by the campsite and inside the festival grounds by each stage where you can anything from the typical “MDMAzing” hats to hammocks to led lights to hula hoops and even some decent food (ranging from breakfast to fast food) and of course water and beer n so forth. Each stage had a water bottle refill station next to it and thank god because it was super hot all 4 days. There was a good amount of porta-potties by each stage as well.  First aid stations were plentiful just in case you couldn’t deal with the heat or god forbid something else happened. There was a general store near the campgrounds where you could buy anything from ice to toilet paper to 12packs of coke. Prices were decent on items you would need but slightly steep on things you could consider a luxury (12 pack of coke $10/ bag of ice $5) showers were available but for $10/shower so if you wanted to shower all weekend you’d pay $40 for just a shower a day.  You also had plenty of security guards walking around or riding around on golf carts and horses. Over the weekend when more people showed up with weekend tickets you could also see state police patrolling the grounds.

Originally I chose to come to this festival because of the DJ lineup which was fantastic. I’ve never been to Lollapalooza or other festivals because if I’m paying a few hundred dollars I want to make sure it is worth it to me. The DJ lineup alone at Electric Forest seemed worth it to me, but I was pleasantly surprised with other acts. Ghostland Observatory, Reggie Watts, String Cheese Incident and Big Gigantic are only a few that stood out and blew my mind all weekend.

With 25,000+ amazingly fun happy and nice people all weekend and amazing musical line up Electric Forest in Rothbury Michigan is something everyone should experience at least once. But be sure to come prepared for bare bones camping if you don’t pay extra for the good life packages or VIP. Come with an open mind and let your inner child run free through the magical forest and its interactive art displays.

It’s a good change of scenery from the typical club heads you see in Chicago (even at the Spring Awakening music festival) no one here wants to prove anything they’re just here to enjoy themselves whether on chemicals or not.

I know I’m going back next year and I’m taking part in more festival activities, are you coming? You definitely should.

Did you travel to Rothbury or maybe know someone who did, leave a comment down below and let’s hear your story.

Spring Awakening 2012

Originally posted on Undercover Clubber on Tuesday September 18, 2012

Experienced on 6-16-2012 and 6-17-2012

If you were in Chicago and you like EDM and you didn’t attend the first Spring Awakening Music Festival you should be disappointed in yourself. Everyone I had a chance to see, from the lesser known names to the headliners was on point and delivered a great show. This doesn’t come without some criticism, which I’ll get to in a second.

First I want star off by giving a lot credit to the staff at React PresentsCongress Theater and the entire staff working the whole weekend for making it run really smooth.  After Saturday I saw a lot of people complaining on facebook and twitter about how they weren’t allowed to bring in empty water containers, camel backpacks and such, to which I say there were plenty of water fountains in or around the stadium and cooling stations. So if you bought one water for $4.50 or $4.75 whatever it was you could refill it  for free. I see no problem with that, when you see any type of festival like this obviously the organizers are going to try to make as much money as possible. The DJ s that performed probably cost a lot of money to book, and that price gets passed on to the consumer. But I do have a problem paying $8.50 for a bud light, even though I drank a bunch of those anyway, given the limited choice. Though I made it to the festival at 5:00 pm on Saturday and 4:00 pm on Sunday I still think I got more than my money’s worth in terms of music. Given the heat wave that weekend I give props to anyone who attended both days fully.

On day one I fell in love with Morgan Page, while Benny Benassi was ridiculous at the main stage and Skrillex absolutely stole the show to close out day 1. No one seemed to mind when it started to drizzle and then pour especially when Skrillex said “It’s the rain dance Chicago!!!” causing everyone to go nuts. The rain chopped up his laser show making each beam look like a million little bright dots. After the show ended and everyone’s energy levels came back down to earth, the long walk from the stadium back to the city in an attempt to hail a cab in the rain was not only impossible but also torture. As thousands of other soaked party goers were trying to do the same.

On Day two I finally got to see Nervo who I missed during the MiD‘s 1 year anniversary week. They were awesome, Felix Cartal was great, Datsik satisfied as always, Flux Pavilion  (Base Cannon was especially sick) rocked the main stage and so did Derick Carter and Carl Cox from what my buddy told me. Later in the evening I had to decide between Wolfgang Gartner and Laidback Luke, so I decided to see half of Wolfgang and half of Luke, only to be disappointed for leaving Wolfang’s amazing set. Laidback Luke at least finished it off right with his collaboration song with Chuckie “1 2 3 4”. Unfortunately Afrojack let me down but maybe I was setting myself up for failure after watching his Ultra 2012 set live in my friends living room (same time I bought my Spring Awakening tickets) and expecting the same sort of set. I personally didn’t like that he mixed in Beyonce and Pitbull songs because this was not the B-Bash. This time around the walk back to the car was a lot more enjoyable as the weather was perfect on Sunday night and this beautiful city of ours just looked fabulous.

Thank you everyone who made it out to make this amazing festival a success, thank you to the new friends I made and thank you Soldier Field for setting the stage for something very memorable, I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing everyone next year when this is even bigger and better .



Welcome to WhySoChi: An EDM blog with a Chicago focus and national reach. We’re a group of party goers just like you; were in the crowd, were in the scene, were in Chicago. Join us on our excursions as we experience what Chicago has to offer. Come with us as we travel to different parts of the country to create memories and make new friends in new and exotic locals.Maybe you’ll get inspired to do the same. Share with us your stories. Don’t be SHY just stay CHI.