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Outkast hits the stage in Grant Park to play a sold-out Lollapalooza Music Festival 2014.
Photograph: Bill Whitmire

10 acts you need to see at North Coast Music Festival 2017

Hip-hop, jam bands and DJs rule the lineup at this year’s North Coast Music Festival—here’s who you shouldn't miss

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
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If you’re in the mood for live music during Labor Day weekend, the North Coast Music Festival lineup offers a wealth of options—especially for fans of hip-hop, electronica and jam bands. As one of the final summer music festivals of the season, North Coast packs in more sets than one person can actually see over the course of three days. That's why we’ve picked out 10 acts that you shouldn’t skip in Union Park, including one half of OutKast, London’s biggest grime star and more.

Acts to see at North Coast 2017

1. BadBadNotGood

Friday at 6pm, Coast Stage
Combining the effortless cool of hip-hop backing tracks with mind-bending jazz-fusion arrangements, this Toronto instrumental quartet has chops to spare. In the past, they’ve backed artists like Ghostface Killah and Tyler, the Creator, but the band’s music doesn’t really need any lyrical assistance to make an impact. Yes, you're probably gonna see some kids moshing to a killer saxophone solo.

Tank and the Bangas

2. Tank and the Bangas

Saturday at 4:45pm, Skyline Stage
After winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest and being co-signed by Chance the Rapper, Tank and the Bangas are riding a wave of critical acclaim to one of North Coast’s main stages. The New Orleans group mashes up funk, soul and hip-hop influences, all overseen by the animated vocals of poet and singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball, who has enough personality to fill every stage in Union Park.

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3. Altered Tapes

Sunday at 6pm, Beats DJ Tent
With years’ worth of mixes and remixes under their belts, DJs Trew and Maker are consumate crate diggers who know how to string together an effective playlist of jazz, funk and electronica. Need proof? Look no further than the duo’s recent summer mix, which places the funky strains of the Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band alongside deep cuts from contemporary producers like Kabanjak and Brasstracks.

Big Boi
Andrew Zaeh

4. Big Boi

Saturday at 8pm, Coast Stage
With the book firmly closed on OutKast after a brief but strained reunion, Big Boi has re-embraced his solo career on his latest album, Boomiverse. Though it’s an uneven record, it smartly embraces his ear for effervescent pop rather than succumbing to modern hip-hop trends, offering up a few great tracks that should segue nicely into renditions of “Rosa Parks” and “B.O.B.”

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5. WebsterX

Friday at 3:45pm, North Stage
Chicago may be a hotbed of hip-hop talent, but rising rapper WebsterX proves that Milwaukee deserves to be a part of the conversation. On his recent album Daymares (released by local label and management company Closed Sessions), the Wisconsin MC confronts bouts of depression with creativity, amid atmospheric production from the likes of Boathouse and Q the Sun.

Primus
Photograph: Tod Brilliant

6. Primus

Sunday at 7:15pm, North Stage
Distinctive bassist and vocalist Les Claypool has been cooking up strange songs since the ’80s, finding some out-there sources of inspiration for his band’s bouncy tunes. A few years back, Primus reimagined the soundtrack to the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, while its upcoming album is inspired by a children’s book called The Rainbow Goblin. It should come as no surprise that Claypool can take something as simple as reciting the colors of a rainbow and turn it into some facinatingly odd music.

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7. Gene Farris

Friday at 7:15pm, House DJ Tent
A veteran of Chicago’s ’90s house music scene and a former resident of the hallowed Boom Boom Room party, Gene Farris is a local DJ who has earned his stripes. At North Coast, he’ll lead into a set from fellow house legend Derrick Carter with a set that’s sure to include some tracks he’s released via his independent label, Farris Wheel Recordings.

Skepta
Vicky Grout

8. Skepta

Sunday at 7:45pm, Coast Stage
Few names are more synonymous with contemporary British grime than Skepta, though that hasn’t made touring the US any easier—last year, his visa was denied. After his signature syncopated flow was featured on Drake’s recent album, More Life, Skepta’s stateside profile has only continued to rise. We’re crossing our fingers that all of his paperwork is in order this time around.

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9. Teklife

Saturday at 6:45pm, Silent Disco A
The producers behind the label that put footwork on the map may be spinning in North Coast’s Silent Disco tent, but that won’t stop some dancers from showing off their moves. There are no names attributed to the Teklife DJ set, but there’s a good chance that at least one of the label’s figureheads (DJ Spinn, Traxman or RP Boo) will show up to pump some beats into your headphones.

Bob Moses

10. Bob Moses

Sunday at 6:15pm, Skyline Stage
Somewhere between an electronic act and a sultry R&B band, Vancouver-native duo Bob Moses is a bit like the Canadian equivalent of Disclosure (though without the stacked stable of featured vocalists). On an evening that boasts sets from Ween and Primus, this is where you’ll find the club kids bumping and grinding before the jamming begins.

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