all words and photos: Alyssa Lesser
I was initially psyched to cover this year’s Northside Festival, which took place last weekend across Williamsburg, and seemed like a summertime redux of everyone’s favorite CMJ. Once the festival approached, however, and an array of less-than-appealing lineups were posted on the web, my feelings changed. Record label PR folks started sending out blasts with “up-and-coming” bands to preview. Most of these bands totally sucked. Locations and lineups were unexciting and seemingly random, venues were at times far apart…and, most crucially, no one anywhere really seemed to know what the hell was going on. When everything kicked off, I floated around quite a bit and saw a lot of terrible bands. That said, I also saw some great shows. I tried to get you coverage of some kiddies I found to be pretty darn good.
Friday night I headed to Public Assembly for Pop Tarts Suck Toasted’s farewell showcase and caught Miniboone, Dinosaur Feathers, and the Grates. Miniboone started out playing really energetic pop-rock to a full, eager room. The next act, Dinosaur Feathers, pleasantly surprised me with their breezy, melodic brand of sing-songy tunes reminiscent of the Beach Boys, and more recently, acts like Miniature Tigers. I genuinely appreciate watching talented individuals have a blast on stage, and all of the bands at this showcase seemed to be doing so seamlessly.
Finally, Patience Hodgson of the Grates both brought the house down and became my new girl crush. With an onstage presence that mimics favorites like Karen O and Jemina Pearl, Hodgson and the rest of the Grates played a triumphantly spastic set chocked full of dancey punk bliss. I ducked out on a high note and headed back to the city to meet up with friends at a dj gig.
Early Saturday I caught the end of True Womanhood’s set at Glasslands. While I got stuck in traffic and only heard the last two songs, I can tell you that these guys get better and better every time I see them and it is really worth your while to check them out before they blow up.
After the show we headed over to see Liars at this random outdoor stage that was set up for the “festival.” Fucked Up opened for Liars. You get no photos of Fucked Up because I just wasn’t in the mood to have balls in my face. I wasn’t all that into Fucked Up’s live sound, but the set was highly entertaining/nauseating. Next up was Liars. I hadn’t listened to Liars too much before I saw them, but had heard a lot of positive words about the group and wasn’t disappointed. With singer Angus Andrew’s shifts between playing Iggy Pop and playing Thom Yorke, I and the rest of the crowd left totally mesmerized.
Overall, I saw some good acts over the course of the weekend, but I wouldn’t say that Northside Festival was a success. If the festival proceeds to take place next year, quality of acts should be considered over quantity, and lineups (and/or availability of free beer) will need to be stronger to get me coming back.