Photo: Jeff Min

In this special edition of our STREETSIDE column, writer Jeff Min spotlights each consecutive day of Chicago’s annual North Coast Music Festival with the most lyrically memorable act found.

The story of North Coast Music Festival‘s opening day wasn’t so much the music as it was the rain. Around 6:30 p.m. a dark blanket of clouds descended upon Chicago’s Union Park, and with it a torrential downpour. The heavy winds caused several trees and branches to snap, and the crowd was quickly evacuated. They remained in high spirits, however, and by 8 p.m. everybody was allowed back in, albeit a little wet and frustrated.

By the time Mac Miller hit the stage the festival was already settling back into mild debauchery, the lightening and rain acting as a primer. Mac was just as hyped as the gaggle of teens and middle-agers, and the sound of his voice sent a notable spark through the crowd. He was so excited he ran out on stage like a guy who’s never seen rain before and busted ass, sliding a good 10 feet.

It was enough to make you cringe but to his credit he brushed it off like a professional and gave the crowd exactly what they came there for – an appropriately worded hit (“Loud“) caked in neon and iniquity. In other words another reason for goofy, furry-booted teens to get even more wasted: [LISTEN]


Tearful reproaches aside, Miller moved at a steady pace. Most songs were abbreviated because of the rain delay, which ultimately worked in his favor. He’s not very good live, and arguably just as bad in studio, but by keeping his songs short and tight he was able to properly manage the crowd. Subsequently it gave credence to some of his more headier songs. “Thoughts From a Balcony,” which would have caused a lull in a normal set resonated to great effect: [LISTEN]

"Thoughts from a Balcony"

Putting Mac Miller into perspective especially in the context of North Coast isn’t hard. He’s a safe bet, and as non-threatening as they come – a lyricist for the casual rap fan. With a simple rewind to past North Coast line-ups, it’s clear that Mac was meant to replace his predecessor Atmosphere (Slug and Ant).

Miller has plenty of potential, at times during his set he displayed some remarkably nimble wordplay, but potential will only take you so far. Yes, he’s the most talented hobbit in the shire, but the real test lies beyond those comforting walls. His road to longevity is just beginning, and there are so many perilous falls ahead of him. But according to his set he’s approaching each day casually as if it were “The Best Day Ever:” [LISTEN]

"The Best Day Ever"