My final day of the Northside Festival was to be truly epic, with me seeing more bands in one day than I think I had ever managed to rock out to before. So, with a foggy head and a pair of nearly numb feet, I embarked on an exhausting Sunday of musical madness, starting out at Bushwick’s Paper Box who were throwing their rather massive Rock n’ Shop showcase. This is a venue of which I had only seen putting on dance party-type events before, but on this day they had their main room and bar area decked out in a music-oriented market fair and had two stages putting going off with music concurrently.
When I came in to the side stage room, the enchanting songstress Megan Talay was already rocking away with her band. Meanwhile, in the back alleyway/open-air café, Clairaudience was pumping away a pretty smooth 80’s-styled post-punk sound. Then, a very charming solo artist Kate Diaz strummed away some sweet tunes back inside, as the scampering drum/keyboard jam of Phone Home was setting the outdoors ablaze. I did jet across the street to everyone’s favorite DIY spot Shea Stadium for a quick spell to take in some of the Tom Tom Magazine showcase that focused on younger female drum-oriented talent, starting with a particularly youthful all-female group Fish Don’t Drown who are part of the East Side Band Project that gives talented LES public school kids instruments to jam out to in a NYC post-punk tradition, performing some originals as well as covers like Radiohead’s “Creep.” They were followed by the always awesome sister-duo Skating Polly, and as the two girls switched fronting/guitar and drumming positions they never ceased to bring the energy and power of a punky riot grrrl howl mixed with a sweeter tween-pop/indie-pop sparkle. Back at the Paper Box there was hard-rockin’ trio Castle Black with a gritty and aggressive female ‘tude. Then, there was a band that was until not to long ago was called Whiskey Bitches, but after some personnel changes, they have since changed their name to Treads, and yes, lead singer and axe-wailer extraordinaire Emily Madge still melts your face as she effortlessly charms your spirit. Then there was another fav local band of mine in the form of No Honeymoon that delivered the rockin’ goods blaring and smoothly buzzing sound that reminds me of classic shoegazers like Ride and Slowdive, with a bit of Camera Obscura and Cults thrown in with lead singer and guitarist Cait Smith really beguiling my eardrums with a hypnotizing harmony. Finishing out my time in this hood was an endearing set by the gazey goth band from Milwaukee called NO/NO.
Next, it was over to McCarren Park for a couple of bands that were to build up to the big festival climax of the Beach Boy’s Brian Wilson playing the band’s seminal Pet Sounds album in its entirety. This show started out with the recent breakout band Hinds which is composed of four young ladies originally from Madrid that are just so overflowing with magical charm they turn their rather simplistically bouncy tunes into entrancing Siren songs set to crash you against the rockin’ shore. Next was Rostam Batmanglij, better known as ROSTAM, who had once been in the NYC-based band Vampire Weekend, but has since gone solo. He started off by playing with a string quartet but then brought in a full band, and he was even joined by some special guests like The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser and former Dirty Projectors member Deradoorian. By this point my fellow P&W reporter had taken over the event, and I moved on to another showcase across the street. I did indeed catch some of the Brian Wilson set later on, although I did miss most of his Pet Sounds revival, but I did witness some of the following hits selections like “Good Vibrations’ and “Surfin’ USA.”
In the meantime, I had skipped across the street to the bowling alley/bar/music venue called The Gutter, which is where a showcase by the indie label Reheated Spaghetti was being thrown. This show was kicked off by the scorching sonic blast of the band named after a song by The Fall called Slang King that sound a lot like The Breeders, Sleater-Kinney, Joan Jett, and even PJ Harvey. They were followed by another one of my local favorite bands by the name of Crazy Pills who put a boogie beat to a kind of punky version of the classic early 60’s R&B-flavored rock & roll sound much like The Pretenders, Throwing Muses, and The Motels. Next was a wonderful super trio of local musicians called Del Caesar that have a killer classic garage psych sound in the spirit of 13th Floor Elevators and the Pretty Things. Finishing out the whole festival for me was another Brooklyn trio called The Sharp Shadows who defiantly bring the bitchin’ vigor to a show with vigorous flavors of Bob Mould and Hüsker Dü as well as some Ramones and Replacements. That was pretty much the last of any drive I had left, and I was finally able to return home to blissfully slumber with a big grin across my face.
Article: Dean Keim