North Coast Music Festival: our experience

Fans fist pumped like champions as we dove right into a sea of sweaty, raging people. We walked into a swarm of neon crop-tops, snap back hats, and colorful furry boots.

Does the atmosphere of Lollapalooza get your adrenaline pumping? Do you listen to bands like Umphrey’s McGee, Pretty Lights, and STS9? If so, then you would have loved North Coast Music Festival. There were four stages, each featuring a different style of music. Beyond the primary stages, other attractions entertained fans. A graffiti wall brought out inner-artists, and t-shirt booths attracted everyone from the average souvenir shopper to shopaholic. Unique to North Coast was a silent disco; fans wore headphones programmed to one of the two DJ’s. Watching them dance, an outsider doesn’t know what kind of music they are listening to. Those interested in socializing could wander through the park and enjoy a variety of food. It can be difficult to plan the perfect day at North Coast, so we have accumulated a recap of our experience and a guide of how-to’s to help you plan your perfect day at festivals like North Coast, Pitch Fork and Lollapalooza.

Our Experience:

We arrived at Union Park around 5:30 p.m., right in the midst of all the action. People of all ages and ethnicities filled the park. Whether sitting cross-legged in circles or racing from one stage to the next, people were smiling and laughing. We got a schedule to plan our evening then ventured to the first stage. We walked into a swarm of neon crop-tops, snap back hats, and colorful furry boots. Glitter bombs burst in the air and fans fist-pumped like champions as we dove into a sea of sweaty, raging people. After a day full of dancing that led us late into the evening, we were so happy to have attended North Coast Music Festival.

The First-Timer’s Analysis:

Be ready for blaring speakers, 105-degree crowds dripping sweat, and energizing, non-stop action. Previous Lollapalooza experiences taught me to wear sleeveless shirts and shorts to deal with the heat, as well as closed-toed shoes to protect my toes from being crushed by enthusiastic dancers. Still, nothing prepared me for the crazy encounters with such an unusual crowd. North Coast attracted all kinds of people; from three-year-old kids to old men with white beards. Skimpy spandex-clad dancers mixed with Woodstock-wannabes in tie-dyed t-shirts. The diversity was mind-blowing. Whether city dwellers of Chicago or Southern Illinois University students, everyone was eager to meet new people. Even if you go with your friends, expect to meet hyper, outgoing, friendly strangers. So, one piece of advice I give to first-timers? Expect the unexpected.

The How-To Guide:


  • Buy your train tickets ahead of time
  • Download the Uber Cab app on your smart phone, so you are not running to catch your train
  • Leave 10-15 minutes early so that you avoid the rush out of the park

-What to wear

  • Comfortable shoes are a must, as standing and dancing all day is tough on your feet. Do not wear flip-flops; your feet will get stepped on!
  • Snap-back hat and sunglasses to stay out of the sun
  • Cross body bag so your hands are free
  • Shorts and a light shirt to stay cool in the heat

-Extra tips

  • Make sure to print your ticket and bring it with you
  • Carry as little as possible
  • Bring a camera to capture your experience!
  • Stay hydrated!