By: BoB Mandich
All these lineup announcements are getting us really excited for one of our personal favorites to finally be unveiled, North Coast Music Festival. We’ve attended every single one and it has very much become a “family” tradition. The music. The incredible amount of homies (it is in our back yard of course). The vibes. It always ends up being a highlight from the year. This year marks the five year anniversary of “summer’s last stand” and Silver Wrapper & React Presents have given every indication that they plan on going all out for the very special occasion. Going all out for a music festival can mean a lot of things but nothing quite grabs a potential attendee’s attention as much as headliners. BIG. BOLD. HEADLINERS. Speculating headliners is a lot of fun and here at Ray John we really like having fun so let’s take a look at some potential headliners. The artists listed below are included based off of rumors, past relationships with Silver Wrapper and/or React Presents, fan requests and personal preference.
THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS – For this writer personally, the inaugural edition of North Coast is still the most memorable. If you talk to anybody who went the first year they will have 2 words for you… CHEMICAL. BROTHERS. They were the first headliners of the first festival and their performance is one that is still talked about to this day. While back in 2010 there were supporting their latest release, Further, there is no word of a new album being released in the near future so there’s really no reason to tour. The only thing that gives The Chemical Brothers a sliver of chance of playing the five year anniversary is the fact that fans have asked every year for them to be brought back and there was also a facebook post made a few months back where the festival asked if anybody could be brought back from year one who we would choose. If you tally up the results I’m sure The Brothers Chemical are perched right up at the top. If North Coast really wants to go big they’ll bring back the duo who’s headlining performance on the very first night of the very first year put the festival on the map.
OUTKAST – Yes, it’s no longer a secret that the greatest duo in hip-hop history is back together. It’s also not news that they’ve been confirmed to headline over 40 festivals this summer across the globe. The only thing that is unknown is not if they’ll play in Chicago but when and where it will be. Lollapalooza, Pitchfork and North Coast are considered the big three and all made perfectly logical sense to have OutKast serve as their headliner. Pitchfork announced their lineup and there was no OutKast in sight so that leaves Lolla & North Coast. While Lolla may seem the most logical it is interesting to note that Andre 3000 & Big Boi will be headlining one of the days at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Why is that interesting? Besides Weezer in 2005, nobody has ever headlined Summerfest and Lollapalooza in the same year. Also, ever since Kanye West was announced for Bonnaroo he has been heavily rumored to return home in August so the odds of Lolla booking both Yeezy & The ATLiens (as awesome as that would be) don’t seem too great. Let us also not forget that North Coast did book the entire Wu-Tang Clan last year. Would OutKast be a tad more expensive? Probably. But in terms of hip-hop royalty both acts are on the same level and hey, we are talking about going all out this year aren’t we?
THE STRING CHEESE INCIDENT – There is no jam band on the planet right now that puts on the spectacle of a show that The String Cheese Incident does. Their music is played with such a perfect crispness and the cohesion among the 6 band mates is truly out of this world. I honestly don’t think anybody has ever had a bad time at a String Cheese show. With all that being said you’d think I was probably crazy if I told you that they haven’t played in Chicago since 2011. Well look who’s crazy now because it really has been that long! As sad as that may seem 2014 really looks like the year they will make their long overdue return to the windy city and it may very well come at North Coast. Cheese and Silver Wrapper worked together to put on Hulaween in Live Oak, Florida at the Suwannee Music Park this past October and it was a smashing success. Hulaween 2014 is already in the works but why should the fellow bed mates wait a whole year to get down and boogie again when Silver Wrapper throws a perfectly good end of summer party that could really use a little queso this year. The only hindering factor is that headliners only get 90 minutes and Cheese rarely plays anything under 3 hours. Oh wait, I got a solution for that too… AFTER PARTY!!!
DEADMAU5 – After remaining quiet for a relatively long time Joel Zimmerman is now starting to insert himself back into the public eye. He just released a new track (albeit under a new techo alias), he’s headlining his own tour in India this week, he’s doing a b2b set with Eric Prydz in Miami on March 27th and will be playing his biggest show ever in England at SW4 later in the year. All this time away he’s claimed that a new stage was being worked on but that a full blown tour with the new setup won’t be ready until the end of the year. Much like String Cheese, Deadmau5 also hasn’t performed in Chicago since 2011 and again, much like String Cheese that is way too long. His performance at that year’s Lollapalooza was the stuff legends are made of as the rain poured from the beginning of set almost to the very end while the crowd never stopped dancing. It was truly something special to be apart of. While it would make sense for a return to the infamous scene it seems that Lolla is heading in the direction of Skrillex, Calvin Harris and the previously mentioned Eric Prydz. Electronic music has always been a key staple at North Coast and if bringing The Chemical Brothers back isn’t possible then Deadmau5 would definitely be the best way to go. Even if doesn’t have the new stage it won’t matter because will people flip when they read D-E-A-D-M-A-U-5 on the lineup poster.
SOUND TRIBE SECTOR 9 – Here we have a band that has headlined North Coast before, twice actually. STS9 brought Union Park down in 2011 and 2012 but a lot has changed since then. David Murphy, the unquestioned face and voice of Sound Tribe, is no longer with the band. After 5 absolutely incredible nights in Atlanta for New Year’s Eve, the split came as an absolute shock to mostly everyone. As for the rest of the band, not much has been said other than that STS9 is indeed still a band. A new bassist will obviously be joining the mix but it has not yet been announced who that will be. Their first performance post Murph is coming up in a few short weeks with festival dates all over the country scheduled during the spring and summer to follow. Tribe was originally supposed to be touring in the winter but that obviously did not happen as the entire tour was postponed/canceled. Chicago was one of the included dates and Silver Wrapper was promoting the show like they always do when Tribe is in town. It would make a lot of sense to bring them back for this year’s festival. It would be a very welcome sight because we got mad love for STS9 here in Chicago and I know a lot of people were crushed when it was announced they wouldn’t be coming. Plus if history tells us anything they’ll be playing a set at the festival and an after party too. Can anybody tell me what’s better than 1 scoop of STS9???
BASSNECTAR – Lorin Ashton may be the biggest name in electronic music right now. I am of course referring to his alias, Bassnectar. Every year I see Bassnectar a few times, at least, and every year the size of the crowd grows exponentially. 3 years ago he headlined North Coast and the crowd was very big, especially for a 2nd year festival. 2 years ago he was the electronic headliner at Lollapalooza and there was at least 30-40,000 people at his set. Last year he headlined Spring Awakening, which is held inside of Soldier Field, and the entire football field along with the whole first section of seats were filled with bass heads. When you get to the level of superstardom that Bassnectar has big cities that hold multiple festivals every year become sort of a rotating circuit and the circuit has once again landed on North Coast. I said before that if The Chemical Brothers were out of the question that Deadmau5 would be the best choice, but Bassnectar would be the most logical. He has only gotten more popular since the last time he was here and he’s an incredible producer who is also one of the best djs out there. His sets always flow so well together and pack a very powerful punch. Make no mistake, people will come out and they will get the funk down to some Lorin Ashton.