We’ve had several failed attempts at summer kicking off this year, but the Northside festival always seems to usher in the season semi-officially for us here at Free Williamsburg. With a music lineup that breaks a whopping 400 in number, there is plenty to cram in over the course of 4 days, it’s not too late to buy a badge, and single-ticket shows are available here. While the laws of physics dictate that you can’t be everywhere at the same time, we’re here to help out with the suggestions of who, where and when (not to mention finding time for a beer).
Thursday: Like a Thursday night in college, when the drinks were cheap, the proverbial stoke was high, and you went out because your friends were going out, 8am geology be shortsightedly damned, the opening evening of Northside Festival 2016 provides a fitting—while hopefully less-bro-tastic—analog. The best night on this year’s roster by some margin (sorry Brian Wilson, but you’re like 100), Thursday kicks off with the low-brow good times of Diarrhea Planet, who are sure to bring plenty of Big Lebowski jokes and Cronenberg-y face meltage to Brooklyn Bowl, while just up the road Noisey lines up the Brooklyn metal vanguard—Tombs, Couch Slut, Yellow Eyes—in support of Newark noise-rap vet, dälek.
Being obvious acquired tastes, however, perhaps you’d prefer to check out Wolf Parade—one of this year’s McCarren Park showcases—DIIV—Headlining House of Vans’ first free bash of the summer—Institute—who show Bushwick some love at Palisades—or Childbirth—all-lady alt rockers keeping the DIY dream alive over at Shea Stadium. Either way, you probably can’t go wrong, especially if you indulge in a little Baby’s All Right nightcap, courtesy of Pure Bathing Culture and owners-of-the-year’s-most-criminally-ignored-shoegaze-record, Eagulls. Doors for that one are at 10:15pm, so it’s going to take a little hustle, but it just wouldn’t be a music festival if you didn’t narrowly miss the one set you were dying to see because of some band playing a 30-minute encore of bad Springsteen covers, now would it? (Coleman Bentley)
Where To Pregame: Not Black Bear Bar. I mean, come on, didn’t you guys see Green Room?
Friday: Friday night has something for everyone. If you can stand the heat at the un-airconditioned Aviv on Friday night, longtime Free Willy favorites Ed Schrader’s Music Beat will play a sweat-drenched show at 8 PM that shouldn’t be missed. Ed never wears a shirt so it’s probably cool if you #FreeTheNip if things get too steamy. If shirtless dudes screaming and banging on drums isn’t your thing, Colleen Green’s Lagwagon meets Best Coast jams (in the best possible way) may very well be. She’s got top billing on a solid night of sugary pop-punk with Diet Cig and Childbirth at Baby’s All Right. For the more straight-faced recovering emo kid, The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die are back in town for a set at Palisades. Show up early for the criminally underrated Two Inch Astronaut, one of the best acts currently signed to Exploding In Sound Records.
Northside is a little light on hip-hop, but they’ve got something special on tap for Friday night: Stones Throw’s 20th anniversary party, featuring one of their most formidable beatmakers, the legendary Peanut Butter Wolf spinning at Brooklyn Bowl.
Also of note: Northern Spy Showcase: Slonk Donkerson at The Grand Victory; Z’s, Battletrance, Horselover Fats at Knitting Factory; JEFF the Brotherhood at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (Peter Rittweger)
Where to pre game: If you’re going to Aviv – it’s gotta be Daddy’s for $6 well shots with a Bud.
Saturday: If you put a gun to my head and asked what single band you should see today, my answer would be King Khan and the Shrines at Brooklyn Bowl. Their masterful blend of soul and 60s nuggets garage rock is best witnessed live, backed by a blur of brass and guitars – King Khan himself among the most magnetic showmen around; they take to the stage at 10pm. After that you can try to race over to Music Hall of Williamsburg to see Psychic Ills, who just released their new album, Inner Journey Out, which is more song-oriented than their previous work, with some country twang thrown in for good measure. After that, you should have time to head over to the Knitting Factory for The Gotobeds (12:15am) and B Boys (12:30am).
If you’re in the mood for covers, then Rough Trade has an interesting one courtesy of a 33 1/3 book series showcase which sees Frankie Cosmos doing Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, Ava Luna performing Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson and Deradoorian playing songs from Master of Reality by Black Sabbath. And for those looking for a one-stop-shop option and not trekking around, Union Pool has a rather fine all-day lineup with Unblinking Ear’s showcase; kicking off at 2:30pm with Honey Radar and going all night until Wall take the stage at 11:30pm, with recommended acts Big Quiet (3:25pm), Savak (5:15pm) and Honey (9:15pm) in between. Other noteworthy sets include Priests at Saint Vitus (10:30pm) and The Numerators at Alphaville (9pm). (Chris Quartly)
Where to pregame
As the resident expert in national sporting despair, I’ll be looking to find a bar showing the England vs Russia football (aka soccer, I guess) Euro 2016 match, which kicks off at 3pm. Best guesses would include Kent Ale House and Banter. For quick snacks, I have a few go-to places in the area – Old Poland Foods/Northside bakery, Oasis or Santa Salsa in the Over the Eight bar.
Sunday: If I need to tell you to see Brian Wilson play Pet Sounds, then, Hi! I’m Peter. It’s nice to introduce you to this thing called “music!” There’s pretty much no excuse to skip that one, unless you’re the recovering, straight-faced emo kid from Friday night. Then it’s cool if you see Into It. Over It. at Rough Trade, because Evan Thomas Weiss’ latest LP, Standards is one of the best albums of 2016. Fortunately, with a Northside badge, you can probably swing both. I know I’ll be giving it a shot.
Where to pre game: Head up to the north west side of McCarren Park and grab some pre-Pet Sounds brews at The Gutter. They have a great tap selection and everything on Bedford is going to be crazy.
The full music schedule can be found here.
Visiting from out of town? Check out some useful guides below:
• The Best Bars In Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick
• The 20 Best Restaurants in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick
• The Best Places To Drink Outside In Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick