Without these five crucial aspects, North Coast would just be another run-of-the-mill music festival.

With North Coast weekend finally upon us, it seemed as good of a time as ever to discuss some of essential aspects that help make this festival into a one of a kind experience. While you're wandering around the festival grounds this weekend, I'm sure that you'll pick up on plenty of these trademark elements. North Coast is actually celebrating the 5-year anniversary of their annual function, so please prepare yourself for an impossible to replicate musical experience.

"Summer's Last Stand"

North Coast’s popular tagline highlights one of the most important aspects of the entire festival. The sad reality of the situation is that this weekend will basically serve as the one of the final festivals of the summer season. With fall lurking right around the corner, this is your last chance to live it up one more time. So if you feel like you haven’t gotten the most out of the other festivals you’ve attended so far this year, now is the time to hold nothing back.

With three days to create lasting memories, NCMF has never once struggled to remind us why we attend music festivals year-in and year-out. Sure, there might be a long winter lying ahead, but when next year’s festivals get underway, the freshest thing on your mind will be all of the magical moments you shared with your fellow North Coasters. “Summer’s Last Stand” isn’t just a saying; it’s everything that this top-notch festival embodies.

No Camping, No Problem

Some people are quick to write off a festival when it doesn’t have an overnight presence. Having said that, as far as non-camping festivals go, it would be nearly impossible to find one that’s more appealing than North Coast. Featuring all the typical elements of a normal camping festival (from the stellar lineup down to the picturesque festival grounds), it’s almost against a festival-goers nature to have to exit Union Park come 10:00pm.

Now, instead of looking at this aspect of the festival in a negative light, I prefer to discuss a couple of the bright spots. The first of which has to be the fact that all attendees can go home for the evening and get a good night of sleep (along with a much needed shower). I know it seems like a little thing, but having a more refreshed audience makes for a more energetic and enthusiastic crop of people on Saturday & Sunday. Additionally, it’s nice that you don’t have to deal with all the hassle that goes into planning for a camping festival. As long as you have some money, an ID, and a smile on your face, you’re more than prepared to take on the weekend.

Size Matters

I’ve always been astonished by the way North Coast manages to pack so much into such a tiny area. And they do it like pros. I can’t even recall the last time I heard music from one stage bleeding over onto another stage. And that’s saying something, because it doesn’t take more than 2-5 minutes (depending on your pace) to walk from one end of the festival to the other. You would think that noise from different acts would be overlapping constantly with one another, but the stages are positioned so perfectly that this never seems to be an issue.

Now, with the way North Coast is set up - the two main stages (the 773 & 312 stages) take turns rotating big name acts. On top of this, the 630 stage always turns in some great performances throughout the weekend. Then there’s the 847 stage, or the local stage, which plays host to a plethora of talented Midwest musicians trying to make it big.

One look at the map below, and it’s pretty obvious that North Coast’s festival grounds have a fairly open layout. Therefore, you should experience little difficulty hopping around from one stage to the next. This should come especially in handy for big time conflicts like Bassnectar & Alesso on Friday evening. If you’re having difficulty picking between these two popular producers (or any two acts for that matter), you have no excuse not to watch a portion of each of their sets. Basically, the point I’m trying to get across is that you don’t have to be Magellan to navigate North Coast.

It's Chicago, duh?

Well, the only thing better than attending a world-class festival, is attending one that takes place in a world-class city. North Coast is pretty much the polar opposite of Chicago’s other most well-known festival (Lollapalooza). From the crowd to the acts themselves, NCMF clearly resembles a typical camping festival more than it resembles a mainstream music festival.

One of the largest misconceptions about North Coast is that the night ends at 10:00pm when the final acts get off stage. Well, that’s where I’ll very gladly tell you how wrong you are. This is Chicago, there’s always something fun going on. Whether you’re in the mood for some delicious late night eats or just in the frame of mind to keep the music pumping, Chicago has no shortage of awesome options available. In regards to this year’s after parties, names like Adventure Club, Dada Life, Future Rock, Lettuce, Manic Focus, Nicky Romero, STS9, The Floozies, The New Deal, & What So Not are all scheduled to play sets late into the Chicago night. Keeping yourself entertained in Chi-town is almost too easy.

Mix Things Up

This is the one place where North Coast puts all other music festivals to shame. In a world cluttered with generic EDM festivals, jam band festivals, & hip-hop festivals - NCMF strives to bring all these forms of music together under one roof. Instead of pointing out our differences, this festival prides itself on uniting a wide variety of music fans for one whole weekend. Usually I’d expect the EDM supporters to complain about the amount of jam bands and vice versa, but it seems like most people have kept their opinions to themselves and are solely focused on enjoying this promising weekend of music.

Whoever does the booking for North Coast really deserves a firm pat on the back. Every year they compile one of the more dynamic lineups that any summer festival has to offer. Which is pretty unbelievable when you take into consideration the festival’s size and age. This is only the fifth year of North Coast, but that hasn’t kept them from organizing lineups that can hold their own against the Electric Forest’s & Electric Daisy Carnival’s of the world. Artist diversity has always been a key selling point for any North Coast attendee.

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