As though you didn’t already have enough on your calendar for the summer (Food fairs! Music festivals! Outdoor movies!), there’s even more live music vying for your attention this weekend. The fourth annual Northside Festival kicks off on Thursday night and provides a prime opportunity to discover great new bands right here in Brooklyn, an area rife with them. Music is only one aspect of this eight-day affair, founded by brothers Scott and Daniel Stedman (who launched L Magazine); there is also visual art, panels on entrepreneurship, and a full-fledged indie film festival/competition to round things out.
These four nights of music are dedicated to showcasing emerging bands, and with around 350 participating, there is plenty to explore. Music labels, websites and agencies will be presenting shows at all the usual Williamsburg/Greenpoint hotspots: you name it, Northside has it booked. Keep in mind, though, that most bands only play one or two sets, so your chances to catch them are limited. While last year’s line-up featured more big names (Beirut, Hospitality, Sharon Van Etten), the level of diversity and activity this time around assures that there will be no problem finding new favorites. So clear your calendar for a few nights and check things out; if you want to take our word for it, here’s ten bands to put at the top of your list…
Note: Many set times are still to be announced or subject to change, so be sure to stay tuned to the Northside Festival website
An obvious pick. These local boys have blown up in the last year, and for good reason. Caveman’s (@cavemanband) distinct, wandering melodies are infectious, and their unassuming vocal harmonies are complimented by steady percussion. Plus, Jimmy (“Cobra”), one of the guitarists, custom-makes all their guitars.
Set: Friday, Music Hall of Williamsburg
Cold Cave (@coldcave23) is an electronic pop band whose loud and proud sound is driven by the synthesizer. It’s impossible not to groove to their relentless rhythms, so it’s a good thing the show is at a dance club.
Set: Thursday, 10:00pm, Europa
For a change of pace, Australian group Husky (@huskysongs) will fit the bill perfectly. Their tranquil folk sound is clearly influenced by Leonard Cohen and The Doors and is at once delicate and resolute. Contrast also lives in lead singer Husky Gawenda’s soothing yet piercing vocals.
Set: Friday, 8:00pm, Brooklyn Bowl
The music of Brooklyn-based Dinosaur Feathers (@dinosaurfeather) is all about catchy melodies with classic 50s rock vocal harmonies and toe-tapping tempos that you just want to bounce along to — preferably while playing it from your portable radio at the beach.
Set: Saturday, 11:00pm, Spike Hill
Laura Stevenson & the Cans (@lauraandthecans) may just be your new favorite band if you like pretty, highly textured folk music with vocal harmonies that echo and weave around one another. That’s not to say, however, that the sound won’t explode into brash rock and roll at opportune moments.
Set: Saturday night, Music Hall of Williamsburg
This epic ensemble of native Colombians know how to party. M.A.K.U. Soundsystem’s (@makusoundsystem) music, heavy on horns, drums and synth, is richly layered and thrilling with its sexy Latin rhythms and bright, trippy melodies. You may not understand what they’re saying but you’ll be dancing in no time.
Set: Thursday, 11:30pm, Public Assembly
Lily is a flirt, a judgment determined purely by her coquettish appearance and sultry vocals. Her local band, Lily & the Parlour Trick’s (@lilyandtheptrix), music is similarly impish, flirting as it does with motown, soul, rockabilly and classic rock.
Set: Saturday, 11:00pm, The Paper Box
If dancing is what you’re looking for, St. Lucia (@stlucianewyork) is another band who’s got your number. Their poppy synths call to mind the neon and spandex of the late 80s/early 90s while contemporizing the sound in all the right ways.
Set: Friday, Cameo Gallery
Wyatt (@bandofwyatt) is somewhat of a family affair, with lead singer Maddy Wyatt backed by a band that includes her two brothers. They play percussive folk songs with melodies that will catch you off guard while the soaring vocals lure you in.
Set: Thursday, 9:00pm, Bar Matchless
Rumor has it that Other Music Recording Company has added WIDOWSPEAK (@widowspeaking) as their “Special Guest” at their Thursday night showcase. Indeed, this band’s moody, sultry sound with roots in jazz and blues makes them more than worthy Special Guests.
Set: Thursday, 11:30pm, Union Pool
A few more to tack on to the list: Niki and the Dove (Thursday at Glasslands), Ski Lodge (Friday at Shea Stadium, Saturday at Spike Hill), The Olivia Tremor Control (Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg), Field Mouse (Saturday at Spike Hill and later at Brooklyn Bowl), These United States (Friday at The Knitting Factory), Guards (Saturday at Cameo Gallery) and, of course, this list would be incomplete without some mention of Montreal (Friday in McCarren Park).