Zach Condon of Beirut
Last weekend was a musical hurricane of electric rain, bass wind and drumquakes. L Magazine
presented their third installment of the now-annual Northside Festival
, in the neighboring neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The four jam-packed days of music, art, film and expression were met with gracious and rather excitable masses of hipsters, punkers, and everyone between, creating a chasm of sound and visual therapy that will be lived through until next years festival.
On the basic level, Northside was a clinical success: there were plenty of porter potties, security – at least after Thursday – had their heads on straight, and for the most part, those with badges were rarely denied entry to shows, a common concern before the festival began.
But what really matters is the music, right? And man, did Northside come through. McCarren Park, a place most commonly known for outlandish kickball games, 32 oz. styrofoam cup laden greens, and – may they rest in piece – killer shows at the McCarren Park Pool, opened up its basketball courts across Bedford Ave. to house a main stage area that did not disappoint (except for Thursday and Friday when there was no ATM available inside).
Yellow Ostrich romped around the Steve Madden stage at McCarren on Friday, sending their calmingly aggressive sound over a captive audience. Their relatively new bass player, Jon Natchez (formerly of Beirut), took to an accordian at one point and then a baritone saxophone for the finale. Fresh off of a country wide tour (and some of Canada) Yellow Ostrich finished their road-madness at Northside. Though it was tough to know what to have expected from the new Barsuk Records musicians, they put on a beautiful performance. Skip ahead to Beirut: simply magical. Listening to and watching Santa Fe, NM native Zach Condon blare his trumpet to the classic, “Postcards from Italy” was like a dream, heavenly. There couldn’t have been a better collection of beautiful, musically-engaged fans all swaying in unison. Drastically switching gears, hip-hop sensation, and M.I.A’s successor, Rye Rye, rhymed Brooklyn Bowl to the ground. Her energy was through the roof and could be particularly seen in her endless, pearly white smile. For her heavy, dirty beat strewn track “Hardcore Girls”, any female that could get a leg up was pulled onto the stage by one of two fit ebony, dancing men in American Flag boxers. Not a space was left un-danced upon, not a head left dry. The best part of Rye Rye was looking into the audience and seeing the incredibly diverse sea of faces - one could not distinguish between hipster-nuts, rap-aficionados, or rock n’ rollers. It was a pure hodgepodge of talent lovers. But of all the moments surrounding the Northside Festival, St. Cecilia’s Church held, by far, the pinnacle performance. Mount Eerie’s driving force, Phil Elverum, strummed a soulfully erotic, oblique collection of (mostly new) Mount Eerie songs - not in the church’s Rec Room or their Gym like some youth group showcase, but right in front of the alter. It was a spiritually moving event - all the patrons of Elverum’s music sitting in the pews, tearfully praying on his every word, he in front as the cult leader; hell, I would have drank the Kool-Aid. Though when Mount Eerie finished, the night wasn’t over. There was still one last party to be had – YACHT at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Joonbug writer, Emily Shesh, wrote about the epic performance from lead singer/starlet Clair Evans, “Evans presence on stage is an illuminated magnification of her far-reaching recorded voice. The pixie blonde monkey’d from stage front to amp-top in single bounds whle seducing her audience and band mates alike with uninhibiteddance moves and powerhouse vocals.” Truly she was a site to behold. At one point, YACHT founder, Jona Bechtolt, jumped down into the crowd, rousing them to sing along in playful intensity. Read the entire YACHT review here.
At the end of the weekend legs were tired, eyes were heavy and bellies were full but the memories of countless guitar riffs and pulsing synth beats, flailing arms and dancing feet, will not soon be forgotten. The third annual, L Magazine Northside Festival was truly a unique and overwhelming success. Hope to see you all out there next year.