A few weekends ago I attended Northside up in Williamsburg/Greenpoint. The four-day music/art/film/etc. festival was exhausting, both because I attended so many concerts and for the scope of the thing. I was only able to tackle the music portion, so here are some highlights.
I joined the Northside Festival on Friday. An initial, and continued, frustration was that no priority was given to badgeholders, so if you wanted to be sure to see a show you had to get there way early or risk being crowded out by ticket holders. With that in mind, we got to the mainstage, which was unglamorously in a giant parking lot next to McCarren Park, to see Beirut. Yellow Ostrich and Sharon Van Etten played first, although I’m having a hard time remembering anything from either, except Etten’s painful stage banter.
Beirut, however, made it all worthwhile. I’d never seen Zach Condon live and I’m sure he gets a lot of people suffering from Stendhal Syndrome at his concerts. It was one of the most beautiful performances I’ve seen. Just listen above, close your eyes, imagine you are in the south of France about 60 years ago.
The next day I caught the “Bands You Need to Hear” showcase at Spike Hill, where the highlight was the upbeat Radical Dads. That night I saw an equally upbeat performance by Surfer Blood, followed by Wavves (who I realized halfway through their set I had mixed up with Washed Out, kind of different), followed by the legendary Guided By Voices.
Oddly, Sunday night ended up being the most enjoyable, with some awesome performances that would have made for great late Friday/Saturday nights. But I guess I’m not a festival organizer… Early in the day I saw Whale Belly in Paper Garden Records’ showcase at Spike Hill (these Spike Hill showcases were great, and also free, why did I buy a badge?) and then in the evening headed to Brooklyn Bowl for Deervana, which the stage name of Deer Tick covering Nirvana.
The grungy WATERS opened and were actually pretty great. I wasn’t old enough to go to many concerts in the 90s, so I felt like I was finally fulfilling something. My friend had told me there would probably be a Deervana mosh pit, but I thought, no way, this is disaffected Williamsburg. I was so wrong, and of course, was standing practically in it. People wore heavy boots. People were stage diving. People were acting like Nirvana was actually on stage. It was terrifying fun though and Deer Tick made a great cover band. They ended their set by destroying their instruments with bowling balls.
We ended our night and festival with YACHT at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. We walked in to see synchronized dancing and coordinated outfits, with a crowd that was about a hundred notches down from the Deervana mosh pits on the aggression scale. I was vaguely familiar with YACHT’s music and really enjoyed their synthy, dance rock.
Tomorrow I’m leaving for a Midwestern adventure!