Northside Festival Day 1
Bambara, Bennio Qwerty, Lower, and A Place to Bury Strangers
Music Hall of Williamsburg
June 13, 2013
After the BMI Creators Launch Event, I killed a few hours at McCarren Park checking out the vendors and other exhibitors who were at the park, and chatting with a few of my fellow festival goers before stopping at a networking event hosted by the tech portion of the Northside Festival, NeXT at Brooklyn Brewery.
Northside Festival swag bag y’all. I somehow didn’t get one last year, so i was happy to receive one this year, and the tote bag has proven to be pretty useful – my mom has used the bag for her shopping. So thanks, Northside.
But seriously, after spending time hanging out in McCarren Park, chatting with several of my fellow festival goers, having a couple of free beers of courtesy of Heineken, I stopped at a networking function hosted by NeXT, the tech portion of Northside, at Brooklyn Brewery. So at this point, I had about 6 or maybe 8 beers before I even got to the Music Hall of Williamsburg to catch Bambara, Bennio Qwerty, Lower, and A Place to Bury Strangers. (I didn’t stay for Iceage because I was invited to a party at the Big Snow Buffalo Lounge in Bushwick that I managed to completely miss while getting soaked in a torrential downpour. A torrential rain storm that had started while I was on a line waiting to get in to the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Fun times. Maybe i should have stayed for Iceage.)
Bambara, a trio that originally started in Athens, GA and recently moved to Brooklyn opened the festival and the night with one of the noisiest and hardest sets I’ve yet to hear all year. Framed by dark, almost blood red lights, the mood was one of menace and fear, which worked perfectly for their moody, tumultuous storm of a sound. And they played with a fearful, frightening aggression similar to A Place to Bury Strangers.
Bennio Qwerty sound was just as aggressive but it had a little bit more of a pop sensibility – not as brewing and with more (and tighter) pop hooks. At times their sounds had pretty, atmospheric moments. It kind of reminded me of having more a prog rock sound if you can believe it.
Lower’s set was frankly kind of boring – their set consisted mostly of music that droned endlessly without much of a purpose or point. i started to feel a bit tired and bored during their set and checked my phone often for baseball scores. Sigh.
Out of all of the acts of the night, I was looking most forward to A Place to Bury Strangers. i had caught them about 5 years ago during a New Year’s Eve show at the Mercury Lounge and holy shit – they were loud. I remember walking out of that show with my ears ringing for a full hour or so afterward. This time, I smartly had earplugs because they have continued their reputation for being one of the city’s loudest bands – and they’re punishingly loud. imagine the Jesus and Mary Chain but with more droning feedback on steroids and PCP (while retaining melody)
and you’ll get a sense of their sound.
Watching them was something else – the members of the band hurled themselves and their instruments furiously across the stage. At one point, their lead singer Oliver Ackermann used a strobe light on his guitar to create some weird, sound and light effects. Later, he pulled a ton of cables out of plugs, plugged in the strobe light at the center of the stage. He then disappeared and came back with a Fender amp, and started smashing the fuck out of it as the strobe light was flashing – which made it look like everything was in slow motion. Their bassist Dion Lunadon, started stabbing the thing with the head of his bass as though he wanted to kill it. I had turned to a new concert friend who I had spoke to during the night with – as she described it, the look of a child who had seen the most awesome thing ever and stammered “That. Was. Awesome!"Holy shit, it was.
The band primarily played material off their two full-length releases, their 2009 self titled and my favorite of their releases, Exploding Head. As you’ll see in the photos, they played in murky foggy darkness which seemed to emphasize the darker undertones and impulses of their material – obsession, murder, madness. It made their set feel anxious, sweaty and claustrophobic; as though it captured the thoughts of someone on the verge of complete madness.
Strobe light – whoa!
Check out the rest of the photos from this night of music, by checking the Flickr set here: