North Coast Music Festival 2011, Saturday: Fatboy Slim
Surely I'm not alone here. Seeing as how Fatboy Slim kicked off my summer during Detroit's Movement festival over the Memorial Day holiday and then closed it out for me at Union Park this weekend, I can't help but draw comparisons between the two. DJ-driven and drawing Midwestern ravers out of the woodwork, both festivals cater to a demographic that, let's face it, hasn't always been a big draw for sponsorship dollars. But that's started to change over the past few years. North Coast has recognized this, built on Detroit's legacy and is reaping the benefits. The Labor Day weekend rave has branched out, working hip-hop and the more beat-heavy side of the jam band scene into the formula, but Fatboy Slim's set at the Red Bull stage was an example of, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The guy's been around for ages. Up on the stage, silhouetted by images of rippling human cells and rapid-fire emerald green lasers, it's hard to make Fatboy Slim out in detail, but the big beat alum is approaching 50. Clearly for him, age is just a number because his set isn't dated. His first appearance in Chicago in quite some time, for some it represents a trip down a drug-addled memory lane, for others, an introduction to this electronic music legend. Either way, the man also known as Norman Cook is here to show us that he's still got it.
As has become his signature, Slim leads off with "Put Your Hands Up in the Air," a rework of the Black and White Brothers that he's rinsed so hard, it may as well be his own. Throughout his set, classic cuts like "Right Here, Right Now," rub shoulders with the new, as weaves in reworks of Cee-Lo's "Fuck You" and the unexpected, like when he drops "California Love," the Dre and 2Pac anthem. That's the beauty of a DJ: feeding off the crowd and keeping things spontaneous is at the heart of the art form. It's one that Norman Cook has been practicing for some time, and last night—as in Detroit earlier this summer—it showed.