The fourth and final day of the Northside Festival was a whole lot more simple of a schedule to keep. It was blazing hot, but I took on the molten concrete of the McCarren stage like a true rock n’ roll firewalker. It did help to take regular rests out of the sun at The Jameson Lounge only a couple blocks away at The Gibson bar on Bedford Ave. Put on by the good people over at Legacy Marketing Partners, this salon sprawl is an annual festival perk for artists and press, and I suggest everyone RSVP’s for it, as there is so much great free grill-fired food, signature drinks, copious amounts of freebie schwag, and, of course, cool live music to enjoy. You would be insane to pass up on this little oasis in the wilds of the Northside.
The final day had changed from the R&B Soul stage from the day before, and on Sunday, McCarren became the place to be for young punk and emo lovers. The afternoon show started with San Francisco rocker Tony Molina, who took a power-pop foundation and turned it upside down with a Thin Lizzy-eque power chord pile driver. His guitar prowess is a gift to behold, and his band was an impressive ensemble as well, but, as he said during his set, “nothing is truly free.” I was rather impressed and surprised by his performance, as he really seemed to expand beyond those relatively short and simple pop tunes from his previous studio material and transformed them into some truly killer epics. Then there was modern punk ace Jeff Rosenstock and his band, which pumped up the energy and made a hot and sweaty mess of the youthful crowd. Long Island native Rosenstock had been the lead singer of the ska-punk band The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, the indie rock band Kudrow, and many, many others. However, since 2012, he has been churning out solo releases like sizzling hot cakes. His boldness is a rather disarming and surprisingly charming experience, and he continues to prove himself an impressive modern talent.
Next was the more recent phenomenon from Worcester, Mass. by the name of The Hotelier. These modern emo -ockers have shown themselves to have strong cross-over appeal with the kids, as their set of extended shout-alongs struck strong chords with the adolescent crowd. Lead singer and guitarist Christian Holden is a real chill cat, and I must say, he totally brings the crowd together. Then came Toronto’s high-octane punk import PUP. Although, at first, they struck me as though they were some Blink-182 or Green Day throwback, they proved themselves to have far more spirit and heart than I thought possible. It was hard to tell where lead singer and guitarist Stefan Babcock derived all of his unholy energy from, but he reached right down into the depths and pulled out all he had for an explosively energetic set. They even managed to touch down into some of the old 80’s skater and hardcore punk sounds, which is defiantly where my juvenile rocker heart still lies.
Although I stuck around for a bit of Thursday who was the headliner of the day, I knew my Pancakes and Whiskey cohort had this one covered in the photo pit, which allowed me to slip out a touch early and make it out to East Bushwick to the little hideaway restaurant oasis of Terra Firma for my final resting spot of the festival. This was a great way to chill out and relax after a tough, sweaty festival and still catch a killer lineup of bands in an unofficial post-fest showcase thrown by the ever-awesome Noise Love. The show opened with the band TKR TKR, which had been a duo of guitarist Robin Pickering and drummer Tina Machina until now. This was the premiere show of their new frotwoman Kelly Knapp, who most of us had previously known as the woman behind Noise Love and one of the coolest and generous peeps on the music scene. Now, she may be a newcomer to being a rock singer, but she showed absolutely no signs of being a newbie. She had all of the bombastic rocker moves and far more of a musical gift than any of us ever expected, and is a shockingly killer super-duper rock n’ roll talent that I anxiously hunger to hear more from. Next was Huh, the progressive punk outfit that somehow fuses 90’s riot grrrl and 80’s new wave, and 70’s prog, and does it all with a cynical sneer and an explosion of female empowerment. You may have caught frontwoman Carrie-Anne Murphy as the vocal powerhouse behind other bands like Bad Credit No Credit and Clapperclaw, but this band is clearly the kind of wild child environment she can completely stretch out in.
Following that, there was the Brooklyn trio Dumb Wolves that morphed a Morphine blast of sax power into a rockabilly punk party. The next band Lost Kingdoms truly impressed me, as they may seem like a bro rock band at first, but they quickly prove themselves to be a deeply-layered powerhouse. They mix jazz, progressive rock, and even grunge with a zeal and ease that could ignite any rock lover’s wet dream.
The perfect end to the festival was spending the late night hours with the headliners of the show, and one of my favorite local bands, Fruit & Flowers. These incredible talents have been on the scene for a bit now, but they recently made a record deal and have a full debut EP called Drug Tax due out June 30 on Little Dickman Records, and it’s easy to see why they have managed to make such big waves in the sea of Brooklyn bands. The band is Caroline Yoder on bass and lead vocals, Ana Becker on lead guitar, with Lyz Wakefield on rhythm guitar, and Jose coming in as the guy behind the skins. Together they produce a psychy and surfy garage rock that is equal parts sweet and salty. They are catchy and destructive post-punk with a strong yearning for the early 90’s L7 and Sleater-Kinney appeal. They are so freakin’ awesome, and you need to see and hear them for yourself.
Article: Dean Keim