To quote the immortal words of Detective Roger Murtaugh, I’m too old for this shit. Over the past several years Brooklyn’s biggest music bash, Northside Festival, has spread its reach ever wider–welcoming venues from Greenpoint to Bushwick, domains from tech to film, pushing 25-going-on-47-year-olds-who-couldn’t-resist-going-to-see-Parquet-Courts-the-night-befores like myself to the darkest depths of their fuel tanks. Barring some sort of Groundhog Day scenario (indispensible 90s movie reference part deux), there was no way that I was going to see it all, but I gave it the ol’ post-college try and in the end came away with this hopefully entertaining, if not remotely exhaustive, countdown of the five best things we saw at Northside Festival. Maybe you saw the same things from a different angle. Perhaps you caught something we missed. Either way, I’m sure you can agree it was one hell of a weekend.
5. Eagulls, Twice
I have serious questions about whether it is possible to be authentically post-punk this far post punk, but after catching the brooding Leeds quartet twice over the weekend (opening for Titus Andronicus at The Warsaw and playing a free show on Bedford Ave. on Saturday), I have to say that, of their peers (Priests, Protomartyr, Merchandise), Eagulls come the closest…if only because frontman George Mitchell pounds tea on stage like it’s a PBR tallboy.
4. Some Dude Crowd-Surfing In a Horse Mask at Thee Oh Sees
In case John Dwyer’s astral-gateway-by-way-of-Bay-Area-garage jams weren’t tripping out McCarren Park enough on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, this dude arrived to nudge proceedings right into the nebulous. If it ain’t weird, it ain’t Brooklyn.
2. Swedish black metal Satanists Watain on an afternoon stroll up Bedford Ave.
With the sun shining, performance art in full swing, and Williamsburg locked into full Coachella mode, seeing Watain—leather clad, fully tattooed, and known for one of the most ritualistic and terrifying live shows on earth—meandering up Bedford Avenue, casting bemused looks at the shoegaze band cooing from the Urban Outffiters® stage surrounded by a bunch of 20 somethings in floral-print crop tops instagraming© from their iPhones™ was perhaps the best free entertainment of the weekend (unless you were on the list for the band’s Northside-closing throwdown at Brooklyn Night Bazaar last night, of course).
1. Titus Andronicus Covering Semisonic (Semi Seriously)
On Thursday night, Stickles and co. kicked Northside off in vintage fashion with 90 minutes of searing punk, millennial manifestos, and new tunes off the band’s long-purported, 29-song rock opera. Unquestionably the most memorable moment of the night, however, came toward the end of the re-tooled Androncius lineup’s marathon set, where Stickles jokingly (at first) began playing Semisonic’s college bar classic “Closing Time” which, soon—thanks to a couple of appreciative laughs and a mock pit—erupted into full-fledged performance, replete with a trademark guitar solo from Adam Reich. Suffice to say, after Stickles’ recent Stereogum dust-up and resultant Twitter tirade, it was good to see the guy having some fun again.