North Coast Music Festival (NCMF) has changed immensely from it's beginnings in 2010. With hundreds of new attendees every year, the festival has needed diversification every step of the way, and because of that the festivals need to be on top of what their attendees want.
Unfortunately, in this saturated market, not a lot of festival production teams respond well the changing market. However, Michael Berg, co-founder of NCMF, and his production team have been innovating every year, creating a big and better festival.
One of the biggest demands from festival attendees across the United States is the need for more responsible security. As the electronic music festival market grows, we see more and more allegations from attendees of corrupt security teams. Recently, an alarming number of members of the Moonrise security team were allegedly extorting attendees. Employees of the staffer 24Hour Security allegedly demanded bribes from attendees, threatening to cut off their wristbands and kick them out if they did not comply. When asked how his own staff would differ, Berg, said:
"Security is our biggest priority. We brought in tactical teams and security teams on top our our own staff. We are working with the Chicago police to get this job done. We make sure everyone is safe."
This truly seemed to be the case at the festival. As soon as you stepped on the festival grounds, there were security guards, police officers, and other staff making sure every attendee was okay. While some of the main problems with festival security comes from searches at the entrance, every attendee was checked equally and as throughly as the next attendee, and everyone had a smile on their face and joked. From there it was the same; all the security and tactical teams appeared to have a great time while keeping the safety of others in mind. If someone's safety was in jeopardy, you could see the security team quietly and swiftly taking care of the situation.
The security team repeatedly walked through the crowd handing out free water and making attendees aware of water stations and medical tents. None of these security officers were overbearing within the crowd, but constantly vigilant.
Magnetic Magazine was given the chance to speak to the head of security, David "Sal" Salvato, who is also the head of security for the Concord Music Hall, the MID, and Prysm Nightclub in Chicago. At first glance, Salvato seems intimidatingly stern, while he is few with his words, he is very passionate. He shows his love for safety of attendees in the strength of his speech and intensity in his eyes, saying:
We are here for the safety of everyone at this event. We are not here to ruin your day or make you feel uncomfortable. I tell my team that it is all about the costumer service. Everyone has paid to see their favorite band and just have a good time with their friends, not to cause problems, so treat them that way. We monitor without getting in the way; however, if we see someone in need, we get it done. I brief my team before and after each day about what has gone right and what we can improve on. I am very confident with this team to keep everyone safe.
At this time, it has been very difficult for attendees to be trusting of festival security teams and city police. It is difficult, because of all these allegations surfacing from security teams at past festivals. While many festival security teams do have a long way to go to get attendees back to trusting them, North Coast's security had safety in mind for everyone. Every attendee that we spoke to had nothing but positive things to say about security at NCMF. This team was helpful, personable, and all around ready for anything that could happen.
In all, NCMF saw a huge improvement over previous editions. Every year, the production team tackles its problems and challenges head on to create an even better experience than the year before. When catching up with Michael Berg about what he team does to improve NCMF he had this to say,
"At the end each day and each weekend to look at the social media comments. I want to know what you guys have to say and I want to build from there. I do not think that a lot of other producers do this, but it is a major step in reconstructing and improving. Keep sending in those comments and know they are read by our team, so that we can improve."
One of the main complaints from the last couple of years is the uniformity of acts all weekend. Attendees were upset that the show was all electronic music artists rather than a wider variety. However, this year, Berg and his team diversified and created a more eclectic sound that any festival goer could enjoy. Instead of seeing younger attendees half naked and covered in kandi, we saw a variety of people and an older crowd. This created more of a balance and musically educated audience. Attendees reported that they learned about new bands and acts that they would have otherwise not even tried; however, can now go home with new acts under their belt.
After speaking to attendees, one of the most talked-about artists at the end of the weekend was Logic. Going up against Bassnectar and his cult following is difficult in itself as it's a struggle to get attendees to venture out away from the bass stage to somebody else. However, a lot of attendees left Bassnectar to hear Logic. When we asked why this was we heard, "Bassnectar was not that great today," or, "I wanted to hear something new," "Logic was actually the reason I came here," among of a ton of other reasons. Logic showed real passion in his music Saturday night. Everyone who ventured over to his set were pleased, no one walked out of there upset that they took the time to watch him. He and NCMF really showed the power of music, attendees left what they knew and what they liked in order to see new artists.
How did you feel about your security at North Coast Music Festival and other festivals this past year? Who was your favorite act this weekend and why? Leave us a comment below about your experience at the festival.