Northside 2015 Recap

Northside Festival 2015 Recap

Northside Festival, expanded and invigorated with a healthy Innovation portion, returned to Williamsburg & Greenpoint, June 11th to 14th.

 

 

THURSDAY

Green Label showcase at McCarren Park

Luna

Luna

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When the line-up of shows for Northside 2015 was released, the definite standout was the reunion of Luna. Admittedly, this reunion had already begun with some shows in Spain (they must be big their because of the name) and NYC dates in the fall, but the local nineties alternative band surprised folks with a free show announced just a few weeks before. That might have not been enough lead time for some of their older fans who had their summer family plans figured out months in advance (camp, summering in Connecticut, etc.), but the crowd was a nice mix of ages.

Singer/guitarist Dean Wareham (QRO solo album review), wife/bassist Britta Philips (both of post-Luna Dean & Britta – QRO spotlight on), guitarist Sean Eden, and drummer Lee Wall might have aged since the last century/millennium (from a high bar), but their music has held up. Speaking of age, it was actually Phillips’ birthday, and Wareham got the crowd to wish her a happy one. Wareham also mentioned how this was the local group’s first NYC show in ten years, “Do you guys remember the old days?” The group opened with the memorable bassline to “Slide” that opened their debut album, Lunapark, and closed with a cover of Beat Happening’s “Indian Summer” (though no “Superfreaky Memories” for these memories…), and it was a great way to open the festival & their reunion.

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Northside showcase @ Cameo

Caveman

Caveman

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Northside is a great chance to catch local bands, both the small ones playing long line-ups and the big ones playing smaller places, like Caveman did at Cameo (QRO venue review). Very small space for a group that’s headlined Webster Hall (QRO venue review), it was very packed, and had maxed out on allowing in badges well before they started. It was also very hot in the smoky space, jokingly referring to the “velvet fog” (then adding that he, a.k.a. Mel Tormé, wasn’t there…).

Playing many new songs for the first time in front of a crowd, they sounded very Caveman-y, and once again featured Matt Clark (QRO interview) on an extra set of drums, a job he’d done in White Rabbits (QRO spotlight on) – who had played Cameo drummer-less last Northside (QRO photos).

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Other notes:

-Just after getting his badge at McCarren Park, your correspondent stopped by the Northside Innovation cocktail hour at Wythe Hotel, for free food & drinks amidst tech/innovation types who actually wear their badges. But this is where the money is.

-One nice thing about Northside: everything is really close to everything else, basically all within a matter of blocks.

 

 

FRIDAY

Brooklyn Live at the Inlet showcase @ 50 Kent

Majical Cloudz

Majical Cloudz

Click image for full gallery – Bashira Webb

The former Williamsburg Waterfront, now renamed 50 Kent (QRO venue review) – taking a naming cue from DOA DIY space 285 Kent – was the other major space at Northside 2015, though unlike McCarren Park the shows weren’t free and were later in the evening. The line-up could tend towards a little odd, clearly not part of an established tour, but no objections to seeing Neko Case, Rhye, and Majical Cloudz.

 

Rhye

Rhye

Click image for full gallery – Bashira Webb

Rhye was a particularly nice early draw at Northside, with singer Milosh casting a spell over the crowd.

 

Neko Case

Neko Case

Click image for full gallery – Bashira Webb

One of the many members of Canadian alt-collective The New Pornographers, Neko Case is as famous (if not more so) on her own right, thanks to records like 2013’s The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (QRO review) and 2009’s Middle Cyclone (QRO review). Her alt-country is easy on the ears, but live the whole thing goes up a notch, as she’s an incredibly funny presence on stage (she did “win the internet” on @MidnightQRO Music on Late Night TV).

Case joked about getting back-up singer Kelly Hogan back from The Decemberists, claiming property over her and later saying that they would thrown down the Portland group in their game, Dungeons & Dragons (“My charts & graphs are off the charts & graphs…”). She self-effacingly not only joked about her screw-ups with lyrics and guitar capos, but also her pants, which she said made her feel like Grace Jones but gave her major camel toe…

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Other notes:

-The food trucks at 50 Kent were more like outtakes from Kitchen Nightmares: the pizza truck made you wait forever for too-expensive pizza and gave you the wrong order, while the taco truck ran out of tacos and couldn’t handle the shift in orders…

 

 

SATURDAY

Green Label showcase @ McCarren Park

Against Me!

Against Me!

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It was an enthusiastic crowd when Against Me! took the stage at McCarren Park. Playing old songs as well as from most recent record Transgender Dysphoria Blues (QRO review) – singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel – QRO interview) was ‘celebrity transgender’ well before Vanity Fair got interested in the cause – they also did an encore return cover of The Replacements’ “Androgynous”.

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Brooklyn Live at the Inlet showcase @ 50 Kent

Alvvays

Alvvays

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Sunny sounds on a sunny day, Alvvays are a hit in their native U.K., and a new alt-hipster favorite, opening for Best Coast & Built To Spill at 50 Kent (QRO venue review).

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Northside showcase @ Baby’s All Right

Bashira Webb headed to Baby’s All Right (QRO venue review) for The Holydrug Couple and Heaters:

Heaters

Heaters

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The Holydrug Couple

The Holydrug Couple

Click image for full gallery

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‘Almost Summer’ showcase at House of Vans

DJ Envy

DJ Envy

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But your correspondent headed north a few blocks (still able to hear Alvvays on the water) to House of Vans (QRO venue review) for the final ‘Almost Summer’ event there. There were mega lines outside (including for VIP) when doors opened, and after they did DJ Envy did a good job psyching the crowd (later playing from the stage floor before the headliner).

 

Vince Staples

Vince Staples

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Contrastingly, the crowd took a little time to warm up to Vince Staples. These free drink free events often have that as an issue, because people are first concerned with getting in before doors close (and the place very definitely hit it’s relatively low capacity), and then with getting their drinks before those run out (and they did, before headliner even went on). However, the crowd did heat up for Staples, whose new album Summertime ’06 comes out on at the end of the month.

 

Pusha T

Pusha T

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Despite the alcohol running out early (bars closed perhaps in response to some girl fight in VIP…), Pusha T & crowd was full on to close out ‘Almost Summer’. But this series was merely a nice prelude to the regular season there, starting soon.

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Other notes:

-Packed photo pits for Against Me! – transgender is just so ‘in’ right now – and Pusha T – his presumed friends in there crowding out actual photographers…

 

 

SUNDAY

Brooklyn Live at the Inlet showcase @ 50 Kent

The big showcase on Sunday was once again at 50 Kent (QRO venue review), with not only Sleigh Bells but also one of the best rap duo out there, Run the Jewels, who welcomed guest Nas.

 

Sleigh Bells

Sleigh Bells

Click image for full gallery – Bashira Webb

 

Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels

Click image for full gallery – Bashira Webb

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Northside showcase @ Knitting Factory

K.Flay

K.Flay

Click image for full gallery – Ted Chase

Though she comes from a suburb of Chicago, K.Flay’s rhymes at Knitting Factory (QRO venue review) had a decidedly Anglo-Caribbean grime flavor. She also had a guitarist & drummer, nicely doing live rhythm (even a type of electric upright bass). Flay herself even played her guitarist’s guitar on a song – after it twice fell off her shoulder due to strap issues.

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Northside showcase @ Warsaw

Zola Jesus

Zola Jesus

Click image full gallery – Ken Grand-Pierre

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