Northside Festival came and went this past week, along Saturday’s stifling hot weather. This Bushwick Daily music critic and music photographer duo took on the enormous fest, biking throughout Bushwick and Williamsburg to to catch local acts, local venues— and of course, some McCarren Park headliners.
In search of a good weeknight show, Bushwick Daily swung by bar and event space House of Yes for the Unit-J Record Label Launch. The eclectic show here featured a wide range of spellbinding acts, from the acoustic, Beatles-esque Amos Rose, to the soulful hip hop of Quincy Vidal to the capable, emotionally driven vocal talent Chanese Elife, to name a few.
At DIY venue, Aviv, we caught Parlor Walls, the experimental guitar, drums and sax trio with Alyse Lamb (Formerly of EULA) on guitar and vocals. Glitchy projections intensified their chaotic, distorted noise rock.
We caught a quick set at Shea Stadium where we were treated to the the garage-y indie rock tunes of Journalism. Their blaring guitar solos, no frills drumming and gritty vocals melded nicely in the sweaty heat of Shea. Check out their tunes below.
Next stop was Muchmores, for the Ears to Feed Showcase where we ended the evening with Cosmonaut, The Teen Age, Little Racer, and Surf Rock is Not Dead. At the beginning of the Teen Age’s set, the band announced that they would most likely “break shit, fall over, and disconnect instruments;” as promised, bassist’s mic fell over, and an audience member held the microphone for him as he finished the set.
With their poppy surf melodies and snarling vocals, the Teen Age is able to always invoke a party and to make one feel both young and equally nostalgic for their youth.
The rest of the night at Muchmores continued in the same vein as beer spilled freely, people pretended to mosh, and the audience embraced its inner teenagers.
Their soothing vocals and jangly guitar parts got the audience ready for their unannounced special guests, Pittsburg indie-punk rockers, The Gotobeds, whose sound is gritty and innovative and features energetic screaming vocals (that sometimes had a David Byrne style to them): Anchoring bass lines and inventive drum parts paved the way for fun melodies and complementary guitar solos, and their stage banter was supremely entertaining.
We then headed to Bushwick bar and venue Alphaville to catch Brooklyn trio, Whiskey Bitches, who will henceforth be known as Treads: This show was their last show under the old band name. They played half their set as their previous selves and then announced the death of Whiskey Bitches and the rise of Treads.
Later, we headed over to catch Conor Oberst, and feel a lot of feelings, at McCarren Park, where there were people everywhere eating free beef jerky (now there’s a sponsor product you don’t see at every music fest—not too bad, as far as departures from the standard Red Bull backpack girls go).
Backed by upstate folk rockers The Felice Brothers, Oberst entranced the crowd with his compelling emotional lyrics. He played some of his solo tunes as well as some Bright Eyes favorites including “Four Winds,” and “At the Bottom of Everything.”
With accompaniment featuring swaying violins, rockin’ drums, an accordion, and more, the music blared out into the crowd, which sang along intently to Oberst’s anthemic performance. Oberst even called Kasey Musgraves on stage to perform her song “Back on the Map.” The whole experience was a blast from the past, but a good one.
The performance was epic, and the renditions of the songs were damn good interpretations of Black Sabbath. Angel Deradoorian, formerly of Dirty Projectors, was responsible for vocals with a cadence that was uncannily similar to Ozzy’s. The instrumentals were spot on, and they seemed to be having a hell of a time on stage.
After sunset and during the evening’s light rain, we caught And the Kids at the Knitting Factory.
This Northampton three-piece’s infectious, honest, organic, indie pop-sprinkled songs bled ou into the packed venue, creating a place wherein it felt safe to be silly, intense and weird. With powerful and dynamic vocals, startlingly brilliant drum parts, and building bass lines, And the Kids was incredibly bad ass. Their onstage antics included this:
A great taste of their sound is this tiny desks concert of some of their tunes.
Back to Alphaville, we took in local bands Pill, Future Punx and PC Worship, as well as some drinks—the house’s frozen margaritas were perfect at the end of the long day (hopefully the bar keeps them on offer throughout the summer!)
Pill recently released a single off their new album “Convenience,” which will be out in August on Mexican Summer Records. This Brooklyn based four piece unit plays avant garde jazz-punk melodies with sung-screamed female vocals and hard-driving drums, as well as art-punk elements including distorted guitar and muddled bass, booming sax parts, and sassy vocals. Pill’s set definitely kept the tired crowd energized.
They were followed by Future Punx and PC Worship, and thus ended Saturday at Northside.
On the day of rest, we stuck around McCarren Park for the festival’s last three headlining acts.
Hinds (formerly called Deers) is an energetic four-piece that hails from Madrid and plays adorable, catchy, summery garage rock, complete with light, airty female vocals that match the tones of the guitar perfectly. They set just the right mood for a beautiful sunny day in Brooklyn.
After Hinds was Rostam, formerly of Vampire Weekend, who performed some string accompanied tunes and welcomed guests on stage including Angel Deradoorian, Wes Miles of Ra Ra Riot, and Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen. Then came the act everyone was excited for: Brian Wilson, performing “Pet Sounds.”
While kicking off his set with a couple of non-album songs, Brian Wilson revealed his age as well as his goofiness as he joked and chatted with the crowd. Wilson’s voice has held up pretty well, and he had a killer lineup, including fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, and Al’s son, Matt Jardine, who assisted the aging rockers with the high notes. Despite the lower key signatures and the occasional forgotten lyrics (which was mostly just endearing), Wilson’s energy was high and the songs felt just as they should: timeless.
The excited crowd at the headlining show cheered and beamed having received the gift of seeing these icons performing their historic record live:
Overall, this year’s Northside was a delightful, beautifully curated, action packed couple of days!
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