Last weekend Northside Festival graced us with its chaotic presence. In its fifth year, it included music, film, art, and entrepreneurial talks. It opened its arms, its bars, its venues, and our ears, as we ran to as many shows as possible. Northside Festival’s music portion only lasted four days but included over 350+ artists who performed all over Williamsburg and Greenpoint. That’s too little time and too many bands – but that’s the thrill of it! We avoided some of the festival’s main draws (The Walkmen, Solange, Weekend, Yellow Ostrich) in favor of smaller rockers pushing the envelope in their close-knit scenes. In case you missed out or want to reminisce, we’ve selected our top shows and artists that performed at this year’s festival, plus a handy Spotify Playlist for you to listen to, featuring the likes of The Soft Moon, The Luyas, Merchandise, Ava Luna, Hot Sugar, and more!
THURSDAY: Twin Sister, Ava Luna, The Luyas, Lushlife, Julian Lynch @ 285 Kent
I began and ended my Northside Festival with 285 Kent. A favorite venue for many, they put on a great show every night of the weekend. I arrived just in time to see The Luyas get onstage. The French-Canadian band immediately yelled who they were and that we wouldn’t forget it – they were right. The eccentric, hypnotic, multi-instrumental pop band gave a quirky performance accompanied by Jessie Stein’s sweet, melodic vocals. After their wild performance, Brooklyn favorites Ava Luna took the stage. The soulful, indie pop group delivered in an energetic and whimsical manner that resulted in jolts and waves from the audience. If you haven’t heard of them, listen up – their sophisticated R&B is worth seeking out. Lastly, though they were missing some members, Twin Sister (who we recently caught in Bushwick) closed the night with soothing, ethereal electronic pop.
FRIDAY: 1.21 Gigawatts presents: The So So Glos, SHAPES, Le Rug, Sham-poo @ Public Assembly
1.21 Gigawatts, a Brooklyn-based music and arts magazine, launched its first issue and show last May. Since then, they’ve worked with bands like Vivian Girls, Total Slacker, Anamanaguchi, and many others. This time they got a bunch of Brooklyn friend-bands on a rare lineup. The one word I would use to describe Public Assembly that night? Insane. Absolutely insane, in the best way possible. The amount of heart and energy that all of these boys have in each of these bands is incomprehensible.
Blue Hawaii @ 285 Kent
Blue Hawaii was the last band I was able to catch on Friday. They just released their second album, Untogether, this past March. The chemistry between Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alexander Cowan is eerily beautiful and rhythmic. The Canadian electronic indie duo was erratic, yet atmospheric and introspective. I left before their set ended, but people were still dancing the night away.
Quilt, Twin Peaks, Outside World, Turnip King, The Teen Age @ Public Assembly
Hailing from Chicago, Twin Peaks, played their hearts out to an audience that was obviously unfamiliar with them. Luckily, as the garage-pop band kept going, viewers started to get into them. They swung their guitars and flung their bodies across the stage as playful and rambunctious riffs emerged from their guitars. The four midwestern boys recently dropped out of college, played SXSW and will be releasing their second album, Sunken, through Autumn Tone Records this summer.
Sacred Bones & Chaos in Tejas present: Merchandise, Milk Music, Destruction Unit @ 285 Kent
Milk Music was playing when I got to 285 Kent that night. Noisy, punk revival is what came to mind as these West Coast guys rocked out onstage. They played with an aggression and angst that had everyone going nuts. Headlining that night was Merchandise, a new wave, post-punk band from Tampa, Florida. They sound like a mix of Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, and John Maus – similar genres, but leaves the ears open for variety. People went wild, making it difficult to move around, which obviously meant it was a great show.
Ratking, Hot Sugar, Normally Important @ Knitting Factory
Hot Sugar and Ratking drew a huge crowd at The Knitting Factory and their performances proved why. As soon as Hot Sugar (Nick Koenig) hit the stage, the room filled up with energy. With subtle, intricate loops and beats, the experimental electronic soloist swiveled through his set. Shortly after, Ratking got onstage. The trio, from Harlem, immediately slammed down quick-witted raps over innovative and explosive rhythms.
The Soft Moon, Pop. 1280, Grooms @ 285 Kent
As I mentioned earlier, the music portion of my Northside Festival began and ended at 285 Kent. I arrived at the beginning of The Soft Moon’s set. The darkwave, post-punk band, based in California, gave a heavy and pulsating performance. Luis Vasquez, who started the band, provided detached and brittle synth and guitar. This was one of the best shows of not only the weekend, but the year. They had been touring all over Europe since April and this was their first show in the US since being back. There aren’t anymore tour dates lined up for them so if you were able to make it to this show, then you were lucky!
Did you enjoy Northside? See any bands or showcases we should hear about? Let us know in the comments! See ya next Northside!