From hip-hop, to funk, to psychedelia, North Coast Music Festival saw a vast range of genres during day two. We’ve got a roundup of the day’s top acts and how they captivated the bustling crowds in Union Park.
Vulfpeck are a funk band from Michigan. For better and for worse, they’re probably best known for hustling Spotify a few years ago. Long story short, they released an album of John Cage-inspired silence and encouraged their fans to listen to it on repeat throughout the night while they slept. The band was able to get around $20,000 in royalty payments from album streams which they used to pay for a national tour of free concerts. Spotify…was not pleased.
Digital pranks aside, Vulfpeck are above all a funk band in the style of bands like The Meters or Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters album. Throughout their set, the members of the band seamlessly switched instruments in between songs while jokingly making non sequitur music nerd ramblings shouting out the nearby Vic’s Drum Shop, “the largest drum shop in America,” and sardonically screaming out to a bunch of confused club kids “THIS IS THE REAL FOUR ON THE FLOOR.” Towards the end of their set, they bring out funk singer Antwaun Stanley who covers Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” with them.
Ty Dolla $ign
It’s not uncommon for vocal backing tracks to be plentiful at festivals. Sometimes you need all the help you can get to get into the groove, but Ty Dolla $ign’s first couple of songs relied far too heavily on them. Maybe it was to get the hype going with pristine sound and focus on the onstage performance; nevertheless, it was very apparent that it was mostly lip-syncing going on at first.
After that entertaining yet inauthentic beginning, Ty Dolla $ign let all his bravado and talent loose, eschewing everything that hampered the beginning of the set. His charismatic presence just kept turning up as he pushed through the backing tracks and let his voice crash through. His mere presence on- and off-stage ended up pumping up the crowd as he eventually jumped into the crowd for a quick surf. His set was pure fun, something NCMF craves and constantly delivers. Ty Dolla $ign eventually gave some love to the Chicago rap scene by bring out Lil Dirk and Vic Mensa for a few verses, cementing his set as one of the better of the fest.
– Julian Ramirez
Raury cannot be contained. He’s on stage right now jumping around like James Brown and dancing like Mick Jagger. Raury grew up in Atlanta listening to bands like Outkast, and the influence that Andre 3000 had on him is palpable as he performs “Peace Prevail”, “SuperFly”, and “NEVERALONE.”
Later, he grabs his acoustic guitar to get slow and tender as he performs his recent collaboration with Donnie Trumpet. He pauses for a moment to confess to the audience. “I fell in love with a girl. I thought we’d be together forever. But just like the cigarettes I’ve been smoking, she was no good for me” he said as he strummed the opening chords to “Cigarette Song.”
“I make songs about love and revolution. That’s all we need,” Raury says to the audience. The crowd here seems uncertain how to respond. They seem unprepared for a black man with an acoustic guitar singing emotional ballads about peace, love, heartbreak, and understanding. It looks like they’re getting ready for Keys N Krates, who are up next, and simply want an onslaught of bass. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but they may have missed something special.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium
As I walked around the festival, I spotted a few Primus shirts scattered among the raver wear and cosplayers, which gave me hope for a full and attentive audience for The Claypool Lennon Delirium. Although the band may be one of the more recently formed at the fest, Les Claypool and Sean Lennon individually have such a long and incredibly vast musical history that anything less then a full crowd of diehards would have been disappointing. Luckily, the audience that gathered around for The Claypool Lennon Delirium’s weirdness was eager and plentiful.
The duo played the majority of their debut album The Monolith of Phobos, allowing the album’s strange and cavernous structure take hold of NCMF. Lennon’s voice delivered the strange fantastical imagery with intense passion and Claypool’s growl came through just as fiercely. Their denser and lyrical psychedelia could seem out of place in the land of hip-hop and DJ, and the group made note of that. Claypool joked with the crowd that his and Lennon’s rider required a large green glowing hexagonal dome, a nod to the Heineken House across their stage. When it came to the night’s headliner, Bassnectar, Claypool had a few words to say. The legend of the bass guitar clarified his position in the pantheon of low range sounds, “If he’s the nectar of bass, then I must be the mucus.” The crowd lovingly agreed.
– Julian Ramirez
Before this set I wasn’t exactly a diehard Logic fan. I was always more found of his own personal history, the rags to riches element that never felt forced or disingenuous, and his personal hip-hop mantra of peace, love, and positivity. But when it came to his flow and the beat that underlined his music, I could never quite commit to the sound. That is, until this performance.
There wasn’t a moment in his set were his explosive personality didn’t show through. “Like Woah” rolled off the stage with such a fun vibe, getting the crowd bouncing. Considering how hyped the crowd was and all the love Logic drops on Chicago in his lyrics, the whole set felt like a hometown show. “Metropolis” references his first sold out show taking place in Chicago and the crowd obviously roared for the acknowledgement. The best thing of all, Logic seemed to be having as good of a time on stage as the crowd was. He darted all of the place, never letting his energy drop, determined to make his current fans adore him all the more and create a sea of new ones.
– Julian Ramirez