Northside Festival 2016 Preview
Founded by sibling duo and co-founders of The L Magazine Scott and Danny Stedman, Northside Festival started under rather humble beginnings back in 2009 out of the Stedman’s one-bedroom apartment, and as an offshoot of their popular magazine. Over the past three or four years, the festival has grown exponentially to become North Brooklyn’s own, rivaling version of Austin’s SXSW; in fact, over the past couple of years Northside had a film festival and a growing TED Talks-like Innovation portion – and in an incredibly fan-friendly fashion as badges are pretty affordable. Whereas a SXSW music badge will set you back anywhere from $650-$895 dollars before taxes and fees depending on when you purchase it, a Northside music badge will only set you back $85 before taxes and fees; and if you were interested in buying a premium badge or getting access to the Innovation portion, you’ll find Northside pretty affordable. And as additional bonus, if you’re in the NYC area you don’t have to spend the additional money to travel and get a hotel to see many of the same bands, who would wind up playing at Northside anyway.
Interestingly, Northside’s eighth year sees a few changes – most notably, the film section has been scrapped and replaced for a portion that Northside’s organizers have dubbed “Northside Content.” Scheduled for June 7, 2016-June 8, 2016, Northside Content will focus on uncovering what’s next in original video content, featuring interactive presentations roundtable discussions, Q&As and meets and greats with cutting edge content creators, brands and the industries around them – and it’ll include a diverse array of folks including renowned musician Robert Glasper, The Jinx and Knowme’s Andrew Jarecki, Giphy’s Adam Liebsohn, Vox Entertainment’s Chad Mumm, Fullscreen’s Maureen Polo, Kill Screen’s Jamin Warren and many, many others.
The Innovation section returns June 9, 2016-June 10, 2016 and is part expo, part trade show and part conference with panel talks, keynotes, pitch competitions and networking events, and is designed to showcase some of the biggest, best and up-and-coming names in tech, innovation and the startup world. Certainly, if you’re a tech enthusiast (and these days, who isn’t a tech enthusiast?), interested in starting your own business or own your own business, this portion will be for you. This portion features an impressive batch of speakers including PayPal’s Dan Schulman, Amazon’s Werner Vogels, GE’s Linda Boff and Sam Olstein, Think’s Miki Agrawal and many others.
The highly popular Northside Art returns and takes place June 11, 2016 and June 12, 2016. And much like last year, this portion of the festival will turn a 13 block stretch of Bedford Avenue – from North 12 Street, Williamsburg’s northern border to Metropolitan Avenue to the south – into a pedestrian only art fair/public park complete with interactive installations, temporary wall units, sculptures, pop up parks and more. And if the weather is nice, it’s a wonderful way to spend a portion of your afternoon before running off to shows or to collect your thoughts after a set.
Of course, if you’re a regular JOVM reader, you’d likely know that the most important portion of the entire Northside experience will be the music section. Taking place between June 9, 2016-June 12, 2016 the music portion of the festival features 400 up-and-coming, established and legendary artists in more than 30 clubs, parks and outdoor stages in a number of showcases throughout the neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. Last year’s Northside had an impressive lineup with a number of personal highlights for both me and my dear friend and colleague Natalie Hamingson; however, this year’s lineup may arguably equal, if not top last year as 2016’s lineup will feature some of the following artists:
Brian Wilson: Perhaps best known as the co-founder, pimrary songwriter, arranger, composer and producer of The Beach Boys, Wilson wrote or co-wrote more than two dozen Top 40 hits, largely considered by critics, music fans and musicians are being a seminal soundtrack of the early 1960s. And with the 1966 release of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Wilson established himself as one of more innovating, challenging, unorthodox and influential songwriters, artists and producers of the past 50 plus years; in fact, Pet Sounds amongst critics, fans and artists has long been considered a canonical rock album that not only touches upon psych rock but also managed to be a major influence on the California sound of the 70s. And perhaps more important, Pet Sounds is an album that has continued to influenced countless contemporary musicians.
Sadly, Wilson has long-suffered through mental illness – he’s been diagnosed as a mildly bipolar with schizoaffective disorder, with some evidence of brain damage from extensive and intense drug abuse – and as its popularly known, Wilson has had lengthy reclusive periods; however, in recent years, Wilson’s mental and physical health has improved, thanks in part to a new and regular regiment of care, and over the past decade Wilson has been incredibly prolific, doing some occasional touring and performing – including a brief Beach Boys reunion run. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Pet Sounds and to celebrate the occasion, the music legend will be performing the album live on Sunday night.
Kasey Musgraves: Musgraves is a Mineola, TX-based country singer/songwriter, who self-released three albums before appearing on the fifth season of USA Network’s Nashville Star, in which she finished seventh. She was signed to Mercury Nashville Records in 2012 and through the label she has released two critically acclaimed albums 2013’s Same Trailer, Different Park and last year’s Pageant Material which have put the Texan on the national map – in particular, Musgraves has developed a reputation for lyrical and thematic content that’s considered controversial in a rather conservative genre as she’s written and recorded songs about homosexuality and the acceptance of homosexuality, safe sex, recreational marijuana use and questioning religion among other things.
Musgraves will be playing at McCarren Park on June 11, 2016 along with Conor Oberst and others.
Wolf Parade: Currently comprised of Spencer Krug (vocals, guitar), formerly of Frog Eyes; Dan Boeckner (guitar), formerly of Atlas Strategic; Arlen Thompson (drums), Dante DeCarlo (bass), Montreal, QC-based quartet Wolf Parade can trace their origins to when Krug was offered a gig by Grenadine Records’ Alex Meeglas. With the release of their 2005 critically applauded Apologies to the Queen Mary, through Sub Pop Records, the Canadian quartet exploded into the national and international scene as the effort won a 2006 Polaris Music Prize. The band wrote and recorded two more albums – At Mount Zoomer and Expo 86 – before going on an indefinite hiatus in 2011 in which the members of the band pursued other creative and professional interests; however, the band reunited earlier this year and has played a number of reunion shows focusing on their earlier material – but more important to Wolf Parade fans, the band also announced that they had been working on new material, which hopefully will be released sometime soon.
Wolf Parade is playing a festival opening night set at McCarren Park that I suspect will be one of the most anticipated sets of the entire festival, along with Brian Wilson’s set, of course.
Conor Oberst: Perhaps most famously known for his work in renowned act Bright Eyes and for his work in acts Desaparecidos, Commander Venus, Park Ave, Mystic Valley Band, Arab Strap, Monsters of Folk and others, Omaha, NE-based singer/songwriter Conor Oberst has also a lengthy and impressive solo career; in fact, Oberst was once named Best Songwriter of 2008 by Rolling Stone.
And as I mentioned, Oberst will be playing at McCarren park on June 11 with Kasey Musgraves and others.
Psychic Ills: Currently comprised of primary members Tres Warren (vocals, guitar) and Elizabeth Hart (bass) along with a rotating cast of collaborators and friends, New York-based psych rock act Psychic Ills have developed a reputation over the past decade for following wherever their muses takes them. In fact, the band’s recently released and highly-anticipated, fifth, full-length effort Inner Journey Out stems from the culmination of three years of playing shows, touring, writing and recording — and reportedly, the album finds the band expanding upon the sound and aesthetic that first caught the attention of the blogosphere as the album’s material possesses elements of country, blues, gospel and jazz. Whereas, their previously recorded albums had Warren overdubbing himself to create a blown-out, widescreen sound, the new album focuses on Warren and Hart’s collaborations with an array of highly-accomplished guests including Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, touring keyboardist Brent Cordero, Chris Millstein, Endless Boogie’s Harry Druzd, The Entrance Band’s Derek James, Charles Burst and a host of friends and associates, who also provide pedal steel guitar, horns, strings and backing vocals – while thematically speaking, exploring the pathways between the interior and exterior of one’s self.
The band’s June 11 set at Music Hall of Williamsburg will also serve as the album release show.
Diarrhea Planet: Comprised of Jordan Smith (vocals, guitar), Emmett Miller (vocals, guitar), Evan Bird (guitar), Brent Toler (vocals, guitar), Mike Boyle (bass) and Ian Bush (drums), Nashville, TN-based sextet Diarrhea Planet not only have a memorable – and yes, utterly revolting – name, the sextet have described their sound as “pop played through the filter of heavy metal” and have publicly cited Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and Dokken – but they’ve managed to receive a nationally recognized reputation for a rowdy live show in which they’re known for covering Bruce Springsteen and Third Eye Blind and for touring with the likes of Titus Andronicus, JEFF The Brotherhood, Screaming Females, The So So Glos and Those Darlins.
The Nashville, TN-based sextet will be playing an opening night set at Brooklyn Bowl on June 9, 2016.
The Giraffes: During their initial run together between 1996-2011, the New York-based hard rock quartet The Giraffes developed a reputation for a brutally intense live show and as a result the band shared stages with an impressive list of renowned artists including Local H, Eagles of Death Metal, Vacation, Skeleton Key, Interpol, Fishbone, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes. And they made a number of festival appearances including Amsterjam, Voodoofest, Monolith, SXSW and Bonnaroo which expanded the quartet’s profile nationally.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting here for some time, you’d likely know that 2014 saw a number of highly popular reunion shows with three of the band’s original founding members, Aaron Lazar (vocals), Damien Paris (guitar) and Andrew Totolos (drums), along with the band’s newest recruit Josh Taggart (bass). The response was so overwhelmingly positive and the creative chemistry so undeniable that the newly reformed quartet wrote a new batch of material that wound up comprising their impressive, Queens of the Stone Age-leaning, sixth, full-length effort Usury, which was released last year.
They’ll be playing songs from Usury as well as their previous five albums at the Silver Sleeve Records showcase at Sunnyvale on June 11, 2016.
Bambara: With the release of DREAMVIOLENCE, the Brooklyn-based trio Bambara, comprised of twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh and William Brookshire quickly became a JOVM mainstay act and exploded into the national scene for a abrasive and punishing sound that’s indebted to the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers, The Jesus and Mary Chain and others.
Since the release of DREAMVIOLENCE, the Brooklyn-based trio has gone through a decided change in sonic direction with their sound increasingly incorporating element of punk rock, trash punk and psychedelia. As a result, their sound has become much more abrasive, forceful and propulsive – and unsurprisingly the material off the band’s long-awaited sophomore effort, Swarm are inspired by the trio’s surroundings; in fact Reid Bateh’s lyrics describe a New York that’s stark, grimy, bleak, merciless and full of unhinged, unstable characters desperately trying to survive with whatever dignity, decent and sanity they have left. And at times it sounds and feels like an urgent and desperate howl of pain into a cold, indifferent void.
The trio will be playing on the music festival’s closing night on June 12, 2016 at Palisades.
Blak Emoji: If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past few years, you may likely be familiar with New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kelsey Warren. Warren is a grizzled NYC music scene veteran, who has been a number of lcally and regionally known acts including Denise Barbarita and the Morning Papers, Pillow Theory and others. His latest, solo recording project Blak Emoji quickly received attention with the release of debut single “Sapiosexal,” a single that has proven to be a radical change in direction from the New York-based singer/songwriter previous projects as Blak Emoji’s sound consists of
anthemic and slinky synth and power-chord based rock.
Warren and his live backing band will be playing “Sapiosexual” and other material at the GlamGlare and Audiofemme showcase at Palisades on June 11, 2016.
Boulevards: Over the past 18 months or so, Raleigh, NC-based funk and soul artist Jamil Rashad, best known as Boulevards quickly became a JOVM mainstay artist and received national attention for a sound that the artist has publicly described as “party funk jams for the heart and soul to make you move,” and naturally Rashad’s sound is indebted to the classic funk of Earth, Wind and Fire, Prince, Rick James, Chic, Off the Wall and Thriller-era Michael Jackson, Cameo and late 70s and early 80s-era The Whispers among others. And with the 2015 release of his self-titled EP and the release of Groove! earlier this year, Rashad added his name to a growing list of contemporary funk practitioners including JOVM mainstays Dam-Funk, Escort, Rene Lopez and others.
The Raleigh, NC-based will be playing songs off Groove! at the Panache Booking Showcase at Baby’s All Right on June 11, 2016.
Of course, JOVM will be there covering the events and goings on at Northside so be on the lookout for live show reviews and photos in the next couple of weeks but I’ll also be live tweeting and Instagramming during the music portion of the festival. Check me out on the following social media platforms:
Twitter: @yankee32879 and @williamhelms3rd