Highlights From Brooklyn's Northside Festival 2014

The author with Mac DeMarco
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.

See also: Music Festivals Are Environmental Disasters

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Live: Kitty Pryde Has A Graduation Party At The Knitting Factory

Kitty Pryde
Knitting Factory
Friday, June 15

Better than: Karmin.

What do you want to know about Kitty Pryde's New York debut that you haven't already read? The Wall Street Journal told you Donald Glover was there somewhere taking pictures, as was Tao Lin, who was tweeting with Kitty backstage under the pretense of buying her some gum. Pitchfork reported that Kitty's parents were present, which made saying the c-word live uncomfortable for her, and that the prom-gowned redhead's hypeman was her adorably stiff Skrillex-haired younger brother. Rolling Stone relayed the backstory to Kitty's crushwave track "Ay Shawty: THE SHREKONING!!!!," a song she wrote about a boy who responded by asking her to promote his band on Facebook. Billboard passed along this quote regarding her straplessness: "My boobs are gonna fall out. Y'all gonna take pictures and put them on your blog." And the fact they've all told you all this about a 19-year-old's first public show ever tells you even more.

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Live: Denmark's VÅR Finds Beauty Among The Chaos At Glasslands

@ericsundy Instagram
Loke Rahbek and Elias Bender Rønnenfelt
Glasslands Gallery
Sunday, June 17

Better than: The NBA Finals.

To call last night's set by the Danish band VÅR a "concert" would be generous. In tune with the promise of expanding beyond music and into a multimedia project when they changed their name (the Iceage offshoot was formerly known as WAR), the four-piece danced and wobbled its way all over Glasslands stage during their allotted time at the Northside Festival's Sacred Bones showcase—at least, it seemed like they did. Their eerie silhouettes moved monotonously behind machine-made fog, their bodies almost phantom-like, shouting and screaming.

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Live: Of Montreal And Jens Lekman Bliss Out At McCarren Park

Robert Sietsema
Of Montreal w/Jens Lekman
McCarren Park
Friday, June 15

Better than: Listening to Diamond Dogs during your "Poststructuralism and Feminist Theory" seminar.

Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman's loss was serendipitous curation's gain during the Northside Festival's biggest show. Onstage alone due to "some unexplained visa issues" involving the band that was supposed to join him in a "brand-new set," Leman made minimalist lemonade. His sweet acoustic set stripped away the baroque layers of strings and horns that layer much of his music, providing an ideal appetizer for Of Montreal's imminent glam-rock maximalism.

Lekman's Scandinavian cool nicely quelled the glaring sun and McCarren Park's baking concrete. Songs usually trump real life in Lekman's light-footed autobiographical blend of humor and melancholy. The self-described "suburban potato-chip boy" of "Waiting for Kirsten," wherein he stalks actress Kirsten Dunst during her visit to his Gothenburg hometown, sounded plenty blue during "Every Little Hair Knows Your Name" from his forthcoming I Know What Love Isn't (Secretly Canadian). Lekman sings the praises of a well-adjusted, practical sort of marriage—one for citizenship—in his new album's title track. Later there was the Fassbinder-ian dread of "A Postcard to Nina," in which a gay friend tries to pass him off as her fiancée during a cringingly uncomfortable dinner with Dad.

Later in his set, he cranked up some canned horns and Enoch Light samples, spread his arms like wings, and cruised about the stage in pop bliss. Was he aware of how neatly this would foreshadow Of Montreal's own winged entities? Probably not.

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Sound Of The City's Top Seven Northside Festival Shows

Kitty Pryde plays the Knitting Factory on Friday night.
This weekend marks the return of the Northside Festival, the Brooklyn-blanketing series of concerts, films, art shows, and discussions of "entrepreneurship" now in its fourth year. The music lineup is pretty jam-packed with bands both local and visiting, and in order to assist you the SOTC staff has put its collective heads together and come up with seven shows over the course of the next four days that you shouldn't miss. (Note that our guide has ticket prices for the shows, because even if you do have a badge, there's a chance that you'll have to pay to get in—badge admissions are limited, thanks to some of the venues being pretty small.)

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GZA, Screaming Females, And About 300 Other Artists Will Play Northside Festival This June

Eddie Austin
Screaming Females.
The music portion of the Northside Festival—the North Brooklyn celebration of music, art, film, and (in a nod to Brooklyn's many small businesses) entrepreneurship—will take place at various venues throughout Kings County from June 14 to 17. Participating venues include the usual Brooklyn rock suspects as well as Williamsburg Park, a former industrial lot on N. Kent Avenue where this summer's waterfront concerts will take place.

The Wu-Tang Clan's GZA, who announced the fest yesterday with Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, will perform Liquid Swords with the sprawling, genre-bending Latin orchestra Grupo Fantasma. Other bands that have so far been announced—Northside organizers claim there will be more than 300 in total—below.

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Live: Guided By Voices Reconfigure Time And Space

Guided By Voices w/Wavves, Surfer Blood
McCarren Park
Saturday, June 18, 2011

Better than: Just hearing the show without seeing it, which is what everyone who lives on my street got to do anyway.

It's long been gospel that you can't tell Robert Pollard anything. Attempts by well-meaning biz types to get the pop-song savant to make things easier on people by downgrading his release schedule to merely flooding the market, or resisting his love of lyrical absurdism, were clearly not taken to heart by a man whose second 2011 release has a song called "Ash Ript Telecopter."

So if Pollard has decided that "Guided By Voices is a New York band," as he did during his reunited group's Northside Festival headlining set on Saturday, then there is no arguing the point that Guided By Voices are a New York band. Dayton, Ohio, he said, is only eight hours away from our fair city, so it's basically the same thing. Much like "people from Spokane say they're from Seattle."

Considering the enthusiastic response Pollard got earlier in his group's characteristically marathon set when, after praising the borough's beauty, he asked, "if I moved to Brooklyn, would you take care of me and my old lady?" I imagine that New York residents won't mind if Pollard fudges some geographical details as long as we can claim him as our own. (He elaborated: He'd get up, drink a lot of espresso, get a slice around 2 p.m. and head to the bar around happy hour. Get this man some sort of artisan hobby—he'd probably excel at one of The Meat Hook's butchering classes—and he would fit right in.)

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Live: Beirut And Sharon Van Etten Beat The Rain At McCarren Park


Beirut w/ Sharon van Etten, Yellow Ostrich
McCarren Park
Friday, June 17

Better than: The rainout that at one point seemed likely.

It was hard to see Yellow Ostrich through all of the umbrellas when they first took the McCarren Park stage on Friday. By the time the band finished their first song, though, the umbrellas had been retracted and only a double rainbow to the north was keeping eyes off the Brooklyn three-piece, most notable for their use of multiple delay pedals to loop their vocals and instruments like trumpet or bari sax, or, as on the set's highlight "Daughters," all three on top of each other.

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Live: Theophilus London Brings The Brooklyn To Williamsburg


Theophilus London
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thursday, June 16

Better than: Being in a Williamsburg coffee shop.

Outside of the Music Hall of Williamsburg, a corner bakery advertised soy oatmeal muffins. A vendor looked to get rid of dusty Ja Rule vinyl and Junot Diaz novels. There were fixie bikes and aimless kids, coke-bottle glasses and paperback girls emerging from the Bedford L stop like ants from an anthill; a congregation of similar-minded outsiders.

And then there was Theophilus London.

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Some Notes On Eleanor Friedberger, Ida, And Rebecca Gates, Who Are Playing Tomorrow Night's Excellent Show At Club Europa

by David Raposa


Saturday's Northside Festival show at Europa will showcase four well-traveled acts from far-flung corners of the indie-rock diaspora: Eleanor Friedberger, Ida, Rebecca Gates, and Pete Nolan. The bill's highest-profile member is also the only one with an album scheduled to come out in the near future; Eleanor Friedberger's Merge debut, Past Summer, is due out later this year. If you haven't already, check out the video for "My Mistakes" that came out earlier this week. It's the sort of pleasantly plainspoken yet off-kilter tune that the Fiery Furnaces could seemingly conjure up at will, as the group's debut (Gallowsbird's Bark) and 2009's I'm Going Away ably demonstrate. "Tropical Ice-Land"!

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