School might have started up again, but summer's festival season isn't over yet.
One, in particular, bills itself as "Summer's Last Stand" -- the North Coast Music Festival, another three-day haul of multi-stage concerts this weekend in Chicago's Union Park (the same West Side location as the mid-summer Pitchfork Music Festival).
The North Coast festival premiered last year, boasting a lineup of occasionally marginalized hip-hop, electronica and jam bands. This weekend's lineup continues that blend trend, featuring sets by David Guetta, Bassnectar , STS9, Wiz Khalifa, Common, Thievery Corporation, Fatboy Slim, Major Lazer and more. This is a festival of beats, of marathon performances, of much pogoing.
Guetta's Friday night headlining slot, in particular, is about as zeitgeisty as a clubland hipster could ask for. The French DJ has enjoyed a slow career burn for two decades -- making a name for himself in the clubs, then working with big stars and scoring big hits -- and is now ready to set ablaze, having released his fifth but most highly anticipated album this week, "Nothing But the Beat."
NORTH COAST MUSIC FESTIVAL
♦ 3-10 p.m. Friday, 1-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
♦ Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph
♦ Three-day passes are sold out. Daily tickets remain for $45.
(773) 598-0852; northcoastfestival.com
The album got a hot head start early this summer with singles such as "Where Them Girls At," a driving dancefloor attack featuring Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj. The song sold more than 160,000 iTunes downloads in less than a week and soared to No. 1 on the service's Dance Songs chart in the U.S. and at least 10 other countries.
A house music missionary, Guetta took his first step up from club DJ after he met Chicago house legend Robert Owens in 1992. Impressed by his music, Owens agreed to sing over one of Guetta's tracks. The result was 1994's "Up & Away," a club hit that fellow DJs nearly wore out during the next several years.
Higher-profile collaborations followed, and his resume now includes work with Rihanna, J-Lo, Madonna and more. A bootleg remix of David Bowie's "Heroes" a few years ago caught the ear of Bowie himself, who approved of it, and by 2009 he enjoyed crossover hits with "When Love Takes Over" (with Kelly Rowland), "Sexy Bitch" (with Akon, censored as "Sexy Chick") and "Memories" (with Kid Cudi).
The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" -- the decade's most determined earworm, and thus far the biggest-selling digital single ever? That was Guetta's production, hisloops and his signature synthesizer.
Chicago's Jennifer Hudson appears on Guetta's new album, on the track "Night of Your Life."
"Obviously she's an amazing singer, can do anything with her voice," Guetta recently told Billboard magazine, "but it's more a matter of specific things with this type of music to keep the energy up. I like surprising the listeners as well as the artists themselves."
Cross your fingers for her guest appearance Friday night.
Other North Coast Music Festival acts to catch
Bassnectar -- It's a guy, Lorin Ashton, a San Franciscan who's been spinning as a DJ since the '90s. His electronic music can get pretty loosey-goosey -- which often contributes to an exciting and bewildering stage show, and he's been omnipresent at festivals this year -- but always falls back on that filthy dubstep wobble. His new album, out in early August, is "Divergent Spectrum."
STS9 -- The stated goal of the North Coast festival, to mix up jam-rock and electronic music and other funky fringes, is practiced in miniature within Sound Tribe Sector Nine, a bi-coastal crew of skilled post-rock players. Aiming for more group coherence than merely framing wanky individual solos, STS9 has become a popular independent act during the last decade.
Wiz Khalifa -- This sub-Snoop Pittsburgh rapper celebrates being green on his "Rolling Papers" debut, dropping carefree party rhymes and observations like, "If you don't smoke, I don't know why." With football season under way, let's see if he reprises his Steelers-supporting "Black and Yellow" in Bears country.
Fatboy Slim -- Former Housemartins member Norman Cook established his name as a DJ in the late-'90s with tracks like "The Rockafeller Skank" and "Praise You," interesting house music mixes that launched a thousand soundtracks and commercials. He's still at it, despite saying in 2008 he'd stop using the name Fatboy Slim, and he recently collaborated with David Byrne on an album about Imelda Marcos.
Common -- Lonnie Lynn Jr. doesn't need to borrow a dollar anymore, as the boho Chicago rapper has "diversified" -- translation, he's an actor with a new TV series out this fall. He's also written up his memoirs, One Day It'll All Make Sense, to be published Sept. 13. How relevant is his rap still? Right-wing politicians went apoplectic this spring when Common was invited to the White House, so it's gotta be good.