While Memorial Day is supposed to officially signal the start of summer, there’s nothing like the Northside Festival that really makes it feel like the season is here; it may just be our favourite part of the year. With over 300 bands playing this time around it’s impossible to see everything, so we’re here to help with recommendations of who to see and when with our day-by-day guide below. Now in its ninth year, you can still buy badges here, and individual show tickets here, while the entire music schedule can be found here.
Thursday: McCarren Park boasts something of a homecoming show for Dirty Projectors to kick off Northside this year, but it’s just Dave Longstreth these days, so I’m hesitant to throw my weight behind the “main stage” opening night. If you’re dead set on DP, they go on pretty early (8:45 p.m.), so there should be plenty of time to catch a couple of other sets. My two must see acts are Noveller (whose dreamy ambient electronic album A Pink Sunset For No One is among the year’s best releases) and Laetitia Sadier (who needs no introduction); the former at Rough Trade at 9 p.m. and the latter, the perfect closing set at National Sawdust at 11:30.
If you’re more in the mood for something that rocks, Meatbodies, a fuzzy garage band that pal around with Ty Segall and were my favorite act from CMJ 2014 play Alphaville at 11 and No Joy are also a solid close at Knitting Factory at 10 p.m. You can probably catch some of both if the L feels like cooperating. Regardless of what you do, I’d make it my business to catch the undercard of the solid indie rock bill at Brooklyn Bazaar first, featuring Leapling at 7:30 p.m. and Air Waves at 8:30 p.m. Also of note: Yucky Duster at Gold Sounds (9 p.m.), Elysia Crampton at Good Room (10:30 p.m.), and A Place Both Wonderful and Strange at Cape House (9 p.m.) (Peter Rittweger)
Where To Pregame: Old standby Black Rabbit is right across from Brooklyn Bazaar, but if I’m on Greenpoint Avenue around dinnertime, I’m getting the “Plate of Polish Specialties” with a Zywiec from Karczma every time. Maybe the best cheap meal in the city. If you’re kickin’ it on Wilson Avenue in Bushwick between Gold Sounds and Alphaville, drop by Sincerely Yours for a cheap cocktail on draft. The burgers at Sincerely Burger are decent too.
Friday: The best headline show for me on Friday is at Music Hall of Williamsburg where you can see The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who have just announced that new record, The Echo of Pleasure, will be out on the 14th of July, so one should expect plenty of new songs. Support comes from Beverly and Ablebody (which is the solo project of former Pains member Christoph Hochheim); the show kicks off at 9pm. If you want a one-stop-shop option then you can head over to Terra Firma, whose Ears to Feed x Impose showcase kicks off at 6:30pm with a solo set by PC Worship. It’s a stacked bill with eight bands, headlined by Yvette at 11:45 pm with other highlights including Monograms (8pm), Big Bliss (8:45pm) and Grooms (9:30pm).
If you’re looking for something a little more unconventional, then The Hall at MP are hosting Martin Rev of Suicide playing with producer Craig Leon (whose credits include Suicide, Blondie and The Ramones) and Lydia Lunch is the guest MC. Other notable Friday sets include Downtown Boys at Saint Vitus (11:30pm) and Ricky Eat Acid at Union Pool (11pm). (Chris Quartly)
Where to pre game: If you’re going to Music Hall then the obvious choice is Zablozski’s, although a few blocks away remains the neighbourhood gem, George and Jack’s Taproom, which is still close enough to the Hall at MP. If you’re doing Terra Firma then my first port of call would be fitting in dinner at Bunna Cafe to tell the truth, which is only 5 blocks south.
Saturday: If Saturday night, in the immortal words of Elton (first-name basis), is alright for fighting, then it’s certainly fit for the final full evening of Northside Musaak 2K17, which promises—per music fest de rigueur—so many bands that you’ll be puking from all the fucking bands. Things get started with a couple CMJ-y matinees like The Spookfish/Gold Dime/Weeping Icon at Alphaville, The Cringe at Matchless, Popgun’s Rooftop Party at Our Wicked Lady, and an Aqualamb Records Showcase at Saint Vitus, featuring a bunch of rad stoner metal from the likes of Lo-Pan, Godmaker, and more.
If you’re looking to get some bang for your badge buck, this is the way to go. If not, don’t stress. This is New York, where the mole people live above ground, so just wait for the dying light and scuttle out into the dark for Sacred Bones’ second 10th Anniversary shindig of the spring—featuring Pop. 1280, Pharmakon, Gary War, and the almighty Destruction Unit at Brooklyn Night Bazaar—or Exploding in Sound’s Big Ups-headlined bruiser at Sunnyvale.
Pairing nicely with those (in that it’s just around the corner, has a similarly downcast clientele, and serves burgers with cheese on them) is Matchless and their evening fare—a shoegaze special co-headlined by Trash Talk spin-off Neaux and Wildhoney. If that’s not enough mope for you, just check out Elvis Depressedly at Knitting Factory, or Julia Holter’s solo set at National Sawdust, a place your parents would really like in case they copped badges too (jk…sort of).
Feeling less goth than glam? Then squeeze into the tightest pair of leather pants in your tight leather pants drawer and catch Miguel at McCarren Park—one of Northside’s marquee headliners—or head back over to Alphaville, where Future Punx will be doing their oxymoronically retro thing with some help from Eaters and Heaven’s Gate. Finally, don’t miss out on the evening activities at Rough Trade, where Lower Dens will be covering ABBA and short-form power pop savant Tony Molina will be doing a set of Dinosaur Jr. tunes—a spectacle worth the cost of a four-day badge alone, i-m-not-so-h-o.
Where to Pregame: Much of the action will be hovering along Manhattan Avenue on Saturday, so a northbound beer crawl with stops at Tørst, Keg & Lantern, Black Rabbit, and Saint Vitus—all of whom shill their own proprietary brews—is definitely the way to go. If at any point you need something to soak up all that liquid bread, then stops at Peter Pan Bakery for Yelped-about donuts, Tacos Lokos 4ever for DL Tex Mex, and Karczma for pierogi nirvana are your best bets. (Coleman Bentley)
Sunday: There’s only one showcase on Sunday, and I’m going to pretend that it’s because the Northside Festival organizers are so sure that no one would go to anything but the absolutely fucking STACKED free Thursday/Hotelier/PUP/Jeff Rosenstock/Tony Molina show at McCarren Park, that they didn’t even bother to book anything else.
I was pretty confident that a Thursday reunion was coming eighteen months ago or so, when Geoff Rickley drunkenly teased it at a United Nations show at Saint Vitus. I figured they’d play Starland Ballroom in New Jersey (they did, I was there), maybe a couple nights at the mid-tier Bowery venues (they played Irving Plaza instead; I was also there), and maybe a secret late night show at Saint Vitus (late night Sunday, anyone?) I would have never dreamed that they’d be top billed at Northside Festival, emo-revival-fueled (and longgggggggggg overdue) critical reassessment or not. This one is a bit surreal.
If you’re a Thursday fan, I can say with a high degree of confidence that you will not be disappointed by their set. As I alluded to, I’ve already seen them a couple of times since they decided to tour again, and, without spoiling anything, will tell you that their sets have been borderline fan service. Exactly what you’d want from a reunion set. If you’re a Thursday fan who doesn’t listen to anything you didn’t listen to in high school – congratulations! You’re going to absolutely love The Hotelier, PUP and Tony Molina and can maybe add some new albums to your iPod classic. Oh, and you probably remember Jeff Rosenstock from The Arrogant Sons of Bitches. (Peter Rittweger)
Where to Pregame: If it’s nostalgia at McCarren Park, it’s gotta be Turkey’s Nest, baby. Or George & Jack’s, because that place is the best, but Chris already recommended it.
Visiting from out of town? Check out some useful guides below:
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