The second installment of North Coast Music Festival is filled with artists both big and small – but there are 11 current, former and future chart toppers that we think make the return of the festival an extra special one. This collection of artists have been bringing thier A game to stages for years – and we expect nothing less from them this weekend in Chicago.

1. Thievery Corporation8:30 – 10:00 Sunday; Red Bull Grove Stage -

With a new album under their belt – “Culture of Fear” – that continues the massive groups reign as the quintessential eclectic world influenced chill music. From “Stargazer” to the title track – the new record is a winner and maintains the Corporation’s position as one of the better composition groups out there. With an ensemble that can exceed a dozen people – its not so easy to find a stage suitable for the Corporation – but North Coast is providing that platform (they also play a late show on Sunday). Check out this youtube video for “Free” off of the new record.

2. Bassnectar – 8:30 – 10:00 Sunday; North Coast Stage -

Squaring off against Thievery, this may be the toughest decision of the festival. But Bassnectar has been crushing the festival circuit this summer. Arguably at more big or legitimate festivals than any other electronic artist/DJ this summer, Lorne has been throwing the bass down on stages around the country at lightning pace. With a progressive and coordinated visual performance to compliment his tunes, and always with something to say to the crowd before an epic drop, a Bassnectar festival set is not to be missed. If you do have to miss it – he is going on a national tour.

3. Common – 7:30 – 8:30 Saturday; Named After Groupon Stage -

With rumors circulating of a new album coming soon and a recent series of Rock The Bells performances of his record “BE”, Common is again part of the buzz in the hip-hop community. His conscious, eloquent, creatively crafted lyrics compliment almost any beat he is given and there is no doubt the Chi-Town native is probably cooking up something wicked. With a festival performance in his hometown – I certainly wouldn’t miss it. The potential for a cameo or guest to show up is realistic and whether one does or doesn’t, Common can carry a performance from coast to coast any day.

4. Rusko – 6:30 – 7:30 Saturday; North Coast Stage

Producer extraordinaire Rusko brings his preferred bass drops to NCMF and I couldn’t be more excited. After unfortunately missing him at Camp Bisco (he cancelled) and his absence from some of the most major festival line-ups (Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza) – catching a Rusko set this summer has not been that easy. The 26 year old dubstep juggernaut has produced for M.I.A., Britney Spears and recently Mike Posner’s “Shut Up.”

5. David Guetta – 8:30 – 10 Friday; North Coast Stage

The man that popularized electro-soul-house headlines tonight and, rightfully so. Owning multiple #1 hit records, including a recently released album “Nothing But The Beat” that is crushing charts on just about every continent, Guetta is at the top of his game. With lasers, robots and hot drops galore at any Guetta show – he is the perfect act to end the first night of a hopefully epic weekend.

6. Lettuce – 4:30 – 5:30 Saturday; North Coast Stage

These ambassadors of funk have been playing together for over a decade – hailing back to their days at Berklee School of Music. Each member has their own viable bad ass offshoot – from Deitch’s Break Science and stint with Pretty Lights to Krasno and Evans’ Soulive – they all do their thing separately. But when this super group gets together – its about as dirty as funk gets. While each man in this band is an all star – it is a toss up as to who the anchor is. I’m a big fan of Jesus, their bassist, who has smacked the strings on some classic hip-hop records as well as stages around the world. Check out a sampling of their live energy and a little background on the band in these two youtube videos:

7. Major Lazer – 6:00 – 7:00 Saturday; Red Bull Grove Stage

Major Lazer brings together super producer Diplo and producer Switch into a baile-funk, dancehall inspired island flavored beat creating duo. With one LP, one EP, a mash-up record with La Roux (Lazerproof) and a handful of mixtapes in the last three years – Lazer has been very active on the recording side of things. They’ve also been active on the festival circuit – although I haven’t caught them yet this summer. Saturday will change that. Here’s “Pon De Floor” – one of their more popular cuts that appears routinely in other people’s DJ sets.


8. The Budos Band – 3:30 – 4:30 Sunday: Named After Groupon Stage

This Daptastic crew of funky soul brothers hail from Brooklyn and make funk that is one half afrobeat, one quarter soul and all parts bad ass. Distinctively different from Lettuce, as well as other funk NCMF performers The New Mastersounds, The Budos Band’s commitment to tribal rhythms and sounds is evident on each of their three records, including their most recent release, 2010′s The Budos Band III. Their unique afro-soul usually comes in a 10+ person package, and who knows just how many will don North Coast’s stage. Check out “Up From The South” which was the theme song for the NFL network several season ago.

9. Little Dragon - 5:30 – 6:30 Sunday; Named After Groupon Stage

Swedish synth pop darlings have been all the rage in 2011, especially since their release of Ritual Union, the groups third album, on July 25, 2011. With a handful of festival appearances since then, including Outside Lands, and this weekends appearance at North Coast as well as Bumbershoot, Little Dragon is enjoying their much deserved success as much as possible. Spearheaded by Japanese singer Yukumi Nagano, the group has been around since 1996 and is finally getting their justified dues. Post festival season they will be touring with Friendly Fires and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Check out them performing “Ritual Union” on KCRW. And check out Syd The Kid of Odd Future remixing one of their tracks here.

10. Zeds Dead – 3:00 – 4:00 Saturday; Red Bull Grove Stage

Progressive electronic dubstep duo made up of DC and Hooks from Toronto make what I like to call disco dubstep at times. It definitely gets your ass moving. A favorite of and frequent appearance in many DJs sets – these industry darling child’s performances are quite the jam. Plus – their name is a homage to Pulp Fiction. Don’t miss!

11. Break Science – 3:30 – 4:30 Saturday; Named After Groupon Stage

RJD2 is a DJ in the vein of Shadow, Jel and others that blend great samples with drum machines and make beats and compositions that have a classic hip-hop feel as well as broader appeal. Break Science is the magical duo of Adam Deitch and Borahm Lee – making glitch break beat electro jams out of NYC and delivering them to the world. While you may not have heard of their project – you’ve certainly heard Borahm at any of Kanye’s more recent shows and Deitch has been a mainstay drummer on the scene since the 90s when he played drums with the Fugees. These two party starting forces collided at this years Camp Bisco and look to continue the magic here at North Coast. (they also play a late show Saturday)

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