North Coast 2016 [Recap]

Chicago’s summer music festival season has ended with North Coast Music Festival over the last 6 years. Summers Last Stand, as it has grown to be known, features a mix of hip-hop, electronic bands, and EDM artists over 3 days inside Chicago’s Union Park. This year’s lineup featured crowd favorites such as; Bassnectar, Logic, Galantis, Umphrey’s McGee, The Polish Ambassador, Keys n Krates, The Floozies Zedd and Odesza. Having these favorites spread across all 3 days guaranteed the festival to be packed each day.

NCMF Full Lineup

The silent disco, which has featured many local up and coming artists over the years, moved to an uncovered outside stage. The two channel headphones allowed you to switch between two artists as you jammed out in Union Park’s tennis courts.

Heineken, one of North Coast’s biggest corporate sponsors, delivered something no one expected a covered dome that ended up being the hottest stage. It was exclusively for the 21+ crowd and had a limited capacity. The dome featured Farley Jackmaster Funk, Golf Clap and Kastler, who blew the dome’s roof and your mind when the projected visuals and lasers danced above your head.

The festival grounds expanded a little further than last year to create more walking room between the stages and to add more vendors. The art displays were spread out through the festival grounds, which rewarded those that explored the grounds.  There was even a hang out lounge (similar to the one we found at Mamby’s VIP section) near the vendors for Coasties to chill out at.


If you bought VIP tickets you were offered free water to beat the heat, separate viewing areas, and a new VIP zone in between the two main stages. There you had a separate bar, air-conditioned bathrooms, and of course an up-close and personal view of the two main stages. If you kept your eyes open you could have met not only local Chicago artists, but headliners as well.


North Coast is not my favorite React Presents festival and that has not changed after its 2016 edition. It has outgrown its current location years ago, which feeds my annoyance of large crowds (yes I’m an old man), which is why the VIP area was a pleasant surprise for me. The festival mirrors Summer Set or Summer Camp both of which require travel, which is why NCMF will always be popular. It also completes one festival season and opens a new one. On that note it’s time to plan for Freaky Deaky and Reaction NYE.

North Coast Music Festival 2016 Daily Artist Lineup Announced + More

North Coast Daily Lineup Banner

Yesterday, North Coast Music Festival (NCMF) announced their daily artist lineup and release single day tickets for the seventh annual installment – happening Labor Day Weekend at Union Park! Single day tickets start at $55 for GA, and $90 for VIP, while two-day passes remain reasonably priced at $159 for GA, and $259 for VIP. Discounted two-day general admission and VIP passes are still available, so get yours now before prices go up. Stream the official NCMF playlist with nearly 3 hours of music featuring 40 Coastie acts from the 2016 lineup now on Spotify!

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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.