Highlights From Brooklyn's Northside Festival 2014
I'm a surly bastard, and among the things I hate most are large crowds and what I call "festy cunts " (terrible people who attend festivals like they're following Van Halen on tour). If you also hate music festivals for their attraction to white people who think it's appropriate to wear Native American head dress, long lines, extortionately priced food and drink and general douchebaggery, but still love live music, then Brooklyn's Northside Festival was designed exactly for you. With its music portion (there's also an innovation and film program, similar to SXSW but with less Hollywood red carpet posturing) spread out over four days, there's over 400 bands to choose from, playing at a number of venues around Williamsburg, many shows taking place in the comfort of bars you probably already frequent. Headliners take over the Smorgasburg lot at 50 Kent and play out to a sunset that drops over the Manhattan skyline, and if you're lucky the TGI Fridays food truck will be handing out free sliders. With acts like Talib Kweli, Beirut, The War On Drugs, Fuck Buttons, Sharon Van Etten, Titus Andronicus, and Beach Fossils playing alongside local acts, Northside is as impressive and diverse in it's lineups as it is in it's laid back atmosphere and easy to navigate schedule. That, and you'll have enough room to swing a cat, if that's your jam.
The author with Mac DeMarco
Day 1 - Thursday, June 12
I started off my Northside festival slowly, with Mac DeMarco's sound check, which was impressive enough even without the full production. Mac DeMarco's music is his natural laid back charm personified, and between his tongue-in-cheek attitude, and the romance of his rolling, leisurely melodies and sentimental lyrics, it's difficult not to enjoy a Mac DeMarco show.
Day 2 - Friday, June 13
In a somewhat fortuitous turn of events, The War On Drugs show was a wash out on Friday night. I say fortuitous because if I had've been at The War On Drugs, I wouldn't have gone to see Motion Studies playing at Baby's All Right. Motion Studies are a seven piece (sometimes eight) dance-rock outfit from Brooklyn, and might immediately remind you of LCD Soundsystem, or a "Suicide Blonde" era INXS. So I danced — a lot. There's always something so compelling to me about a dance act that forgoes the synthesized pew-pew of laser noises to actually play their instruments, and Motion Studies' band is so multi-talented they even threw in a surprise saxophone solo for their last song.
Day 3 - Saturday, June 14
It was a triumphant return to Brooklyn for Beirut who played out Saturday night at 50 Kent Ave as the sun set over the city. Heavy on the wind instruments, Beirut delivered as expected, opening with "East Harlem" and playing both deep cuts and new songs to an adoring atmosphere. As far as shows go, Beirut is probably one of the most pleasant I've ever been to — the crowd, mostly couples, could only really be described as lovely, while the band retained their sweet humility, sounding at least 17 times better live than recorded, promoting a reverent, rhythmic swaying amongst their hypnotized fans.