Five months ago, North Coast Music Fest organizers released a monster of an early lineup, announcing tickets would be going on sale for the Labor Day weekend EDM festival.
It was a risk — expanding to three days from two and moving to a new venue in the middle of a pandemic when the future of major events were uncertain — but it seems like one that paid off. The fest is still a go and the lineup has not only remained relatively intact, but has grown to more than 100 notable acts from across the vast spectrum of electronic music, quite a few from Chicago and the suburbs.
Situated at Bridgeview’s SeatGeek Stadium, the 11th year of North Coast promises a more expansive experience. The main stage will be inside the open-air stadium, and The Canopy, The Vega and The Panky Rang Bus stages, as well as the Silent Disco, will be outdoors on the adjacent soccer fields.
Additional stages and the additional day mean additional acts, and this year’s lineup is stacked with house, techno, trance, bass, DJs and live performances, peppered with talented names hometown fans are sure to recognize.
Friday night, Chicago-area musicians get a nod when Northbrook native Kaskade headlines, supported by fellow North Shore producer duo Louis the Child.
Louis the Child — Robby Hauldren and Freddy Kennett — is making its first main stage appearance at North Coast, but the New Trier grads are no strangers to the festival scene, having played Lollapalooza Chile 2018 along with a virtual set at last year’s Lolla2020.
With a steady string of singles spanning back to the act’s breakout in 2015 with “It’s Strange,” Louis the Child has built its name on kinetically charged and danceable hits. Last year, the duo released its debut album “Here for Now,” a beefy collection of earworms, most of it showcasing the Winnetka pair doing what it does best: collaboration. And the very recent single “hate u cuz i don’t,” produced with singer-songwriter Bea Miller, bolsters that opinion.
Louis the Child has been out on its cross-country “Euphoria Tour” since July, but we checked in with Robby Hauldren on the road about coming up in Winnetka and the upcoming fest:
Q: The North Shore communities have been a proving ground for a number of breakout artists, in part because of the many opportunities young artists have at their fingertips. How did your path lead you toward performing?
A: I think my love for music really sparked from my dad playing guitar around the house and writing songs about me and my siblings. My dad’s side is very musical and my Mom’s side is super into art. Music was all around the house so it felt natural to try it out. I started with piano lessons and then started getting into drums and guitar. I was that kid at school wearing the old rock band T-shirts, listening to Jimi Hendrix and The Doors. We had all these concert DVDs in our basement and I used to watch videos of Led Zeppelin and The Who, dreaming of what it would be like to perform in front of crowds like that. I played in a lot of rock bands through middle school and then when high school came around I started getting into DJing and electronic music. Within Louis The Child I’ve always been more focused on the shows and Freddy more the production. Performing is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve always felt really comfortable on stage.
Q: You both started producing music when you were high school students at New Trier. What was the scene around Winnetka and the area like for you two as up-and-coming musicians?
A: The fact that New Trier was such a big school helped us a lot. When you’re in high school there’s a network of people that you’re forced to be around five days a week, so information spreads really easily. When we would drop a new remix or needed people to vote for us in a contest, we had tons of people that were actually down to help out. Once you’re out of school your circle of friends gets smaller and everyone gets more busy. It was interesting because when we formed Louis The Child, electronic music wasn’t super big. People were into it for sure, but there was only a small group of kids who were really serious about it and keeping up with all the new releases. Freddy was one of those kids who was really into the music and that helped bring us together.
Q: With last year’s North Coast canceled (along with pretty much everything), what has it been like jumping back into national tour and festival life this summer?
A: It’s been amazing! The energy every night feels so good and you can tell people are happy to be back at concerts. We’ve never done a summer bus tour, and it’s such a different vibe when everyone is outside all day in the sun and hanging out on the lawn at the venues. I like it a lot. We made and released a lot of new music during the quarantine, so we’re coming back with a super fresh show as well. You feel like you have a bit more sense of purpose in the world when you see people enjoying your music every night.
Q: As a performer at North Coast, you also get to spend the weekend enjoying the festival. What are you most looking forward to about the fest?
A: I’m excited to see the layout of the festival. I went to North Coast in high school when it was at Union Park, so it’ll be cool to see how they approach it at a new venue. I’m really happy the main stage is inside the stadium, too. I hate when festivals are held at a stadium and they just put all the stages in the parking lot. It’s so much fun being inside a big stadium with a bunch of people. I think it’ll only elevate everyone’s shows.
Q: Louis the Child has a fairly expansive catalog of music to choose from for your set Friday night. What are you most excited to perform for fans?
A: There’s a lot of new edits of old songs that we made for this tour, which I’m excited to play. Our finale is pretty epic, too. I think that’ll be a really great moment.
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North Coast Music Festival
When: 2 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 3, and 4; 2 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5
Where: SeatGeek Stadium, 7000 S. Harlem Ave., Bridgeview
Tickets: $248.51 plus fees for three-day general admission; $88.57 plus fees for single-day GA passes at northcoastfestival.com
Note: Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of entry are required to be admitted. Masks aren’t mandatory in the outdoor areas, but they will be necessary to access any indoor art installations or experiences. See the North Coast safety protocol at northcoastfestival.com/faq.