For the third year in a row, L Magazine threw its multi-venue Northside Festival, at stages across Williamsburg & Greenpoint in Brooklyn, June 16th-19th. And for the third year in a row, QRO was there:
Click here for photos of Christopher Paul Stelling at Rock Shop in Brooklyn, NY on October 3rd, 2010 in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for photos of The Loom at Union Hall in Brooklyn, NY on June 20th, 2009 in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for photos of Whale Belly at Glasslands in Brooklyn, NY on September 9th, 2010 in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for QRO’s review of Emanual & The Fear at Swamp in Freiburg, Germany on April 12th, 2010
If you hit Northside Festival hard from the get-go, then you’re probably dragging ass by Sunday afternoon. The showcases around this time tend to be more relaxed, laidback, hangover-friendly line-ups that don’t push your buttons too hard. The Jonny Leather showcase and Paper Trail & Papergarden Records showcase are two good examples of how to do Sunday afternoon right. The former offered the acoustic guitar of Christopher Paul Stelling and the laidback rustic jams of The Loom, among other excellent acts. The latter opted for the neo alt-Americana of Whale Belly, the soothing orchestral pop of Emmanuel & The Fear, and more. Good picks, either of these shows. That being said, your humble QRO correspondent slept in.
Two different showcases leapt out as a perfect end to Northside Festival: the Heart Is A Spade & Punk Photo showcase at Europa, and the NYC TAPER & Pop Tarts showcase at Public Assembly. Kudos to HIAS & PP for curating a tastefully understated three-band bill that made for an all around more intimate experience, for artist and audience. But take a few points off for booking it at Europa; a nice venue (QRO venue review), but a bit too far from the epicenter of Northside action to attract showhoppers. This correspondent opted for the glut of acts at Public Assembly (QRO venue review), where eleven bands, two stages and staggered set times ensured that everyone would get one final Sunday music binge at Northside.
NYCTAPER & Pop Tarts Suck Toasted showcase @ Public Assembly
w/ a zillion bands
Pop Tarts Suck Toasted can usually be counted on to field a solid bill, with leanings toward the garage, punk, rock end of the spectrum. To the knowledge of this correspondent, NYC Taper is new to showcasing, and one gets the impression that Pop Tarts did most of the curating. In any case, eleven bands has to have a few winners. The night started off strong with Quilty, a plucky Brooklyn-based band that has been turning more heads lately. The Loom was take-it-or-leave-it folky indie jams with an Allman Brothers look-alike on lead guitar.
Boston standouts Mean Creek gave a spirited, if ‘classic rock’-y performance. The band has been a darling of the local Boston independent music press for a while now. And, predictably, the band couldn’t identify itself to the Brooklyn crowd as coming from Boston without making some disparaging, self-deprecating remark about Beantown. The Boston inferiority complex still reigns supreme in the long shadow of New York City. Another Boston act, Young Adults, last minute replacements for Headless Horseman, closed the evening. The three-piece recently underwent a line-up change, but sounded strong as ever (though the lead guitarist appeared to be suffering from a slight cold).
Beige followed up its Saturday afternoon performance (QRO recap) with an even stronger Sunday night gig, albeit one that was tripped up by more sound issues. The three-piece depends on an inordinate amount of soundboards and wiring to lend a fullness to their attack, and it only takes one faulty wire to give out that annoying crackly-screechy ‘loose connection’ sound, which appears to have been the problem. But the songs were impressive. Thickly textured guitar work combined with hypnotic beats and bass. Despite all the equipment and PA issues, Beige probably came out ahead this festival. They never lost their cool, which allowed you to concentrate on the potential through all the mishaps.
Tireless giggers Shark? gave a strong performance despite complaints that they were tired from doing drugs in the woods all weekend. They played a lot of material off their new album True Waste. The album is largely composed of material collated from previously released 7″s, so you may have heard these songs before, but they sounded great as ever (on a personal note: I wrote a fairly dismissive review of their EP Noise Maker a while back – QRO review – which I recant fully – these guys are great, and are only getting better). Other acts included U Say USA, Quiet Lights, Neighbors, and Household – a flurry of rock ‘n’ roll that, much like Northside Festival itself, was too much to wrap one’s head around. But damn, it’s fun trying.
Photo galleries from Northside Day Four:
PopGun showcase @ Glasslands
Click image for full gallery
Click image for full gallery