Next week, Northside Festival promises to bring the already music-saturated borough of Brooklyn to the brink of complete and total music-ocalypse. Now in its eighth year, the festival brings together some of hippest bands that oh-so-hip North Brooklyn has to offer with shows across several venues in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. Choosing which of the 400 musical acts to see and which of the 38 venues to go to is a daunting task. So to help you decide where to focus your time, energy and discerning ears over the course of six days (June 6-12), we’ve put together a list of the top ten shows.
Sweet Crude, Acid Dad, Diarrhea Planet, Questlove (DJ Set)
Thursday, June 9 at Brooklyn Bowl.
If there’s one show on this list that’s a “sure thing,” this is the one. A well-liked local rock band (Acid Dad) and an idiosyncratic regional gem (Sweet Crude) that mixes their local culture and flavor (Louisiana creole) with indie music are opening? They’re then followed by a crazy four-guitar onslaught from a band that, by most accounts, is about to burst into the stratosphere (Diarrhea Planet)? Also, Questlove’s there? C’mon, I mean he’s freakin’ Questlove. Don’t regret missing Diarrhea Planet climb all over Questlove like he’s a piece of scaffolding—be there.
Haram, Cheena Nandas, Institute
Thursday, June 9 at Palisades.
If you’re looking for a good ol’ fashioned, down-and-dirty punk show, this is probably the best option all weekend. All four of these bands, from the Arabic-language thrashers Haram to the more relaxed Texas crew Institute, play pretty straight-up, no-frills punk rock. So if you really want to find a place to slam dance and wear dirty black t-shirts, Palisades on Thursday is probably it.
Video Daughters, Wei Zhongle, Patio, halfsour, Zula, Grooms, Crown Larks, Yonatan Gat, THICK
Thursday, June 9 at Aviv.
This is a show full of bands you should—but probably don’t—already know: former DBA (RIP) regulars Grooms, garage punks THICK and a B+B favorite, psychedelic guitar improviser Yonatan Gat. While the description “psychedelic guitar improviser” sounds like that guy you went to college with who was really into Phish, Yonatan Gat is not that guy. I mean he might like Phish—I don’t know—but he definitely doesn’t suck like that guy. So if you feel like you don’t spend enough time telling people, “Oh, you don’t know them? I saw them at a festival last year, they were sick,” then this is the show for you.
DIIV, BADBADNOTGOOD, Sunflower Bean, The Paranoyds
Thursday, June 9 at House of Vans.
This show definitely wins the award for the most Northside-esque show at Northside Festival. First of all, you’ve got the behemoth—by indie standards—Brooklyn-based, ethereal rockers DIIV playing with the up-and-coming, Brooklyn-based, ethereal rockers Sunflower Bean—like two sides of some ripped-jeans-wearing coin. Then on top of that you throw in hip-hop heads’ favorite jazzy instrumentalists BADBADNOTGOOD and The Paranoyds, a cool rock band from L.A. When all’s said and done, this bill is gonna get Best New Music, for sure.
Heliotropes, The Teen Age, Such Hounds, TOWER, Tournament
Friday, June 10 at Gold Sounds.
Man, you’re just wanna rock, right? This show at Gold Sounds gets that. This show at Gold Sounds has the riffs. It’s got Heliotropes and The Teen Age and not one, but two hard rock bands, TOWER and Tournament, to remind you what rock in the ‘80s is all about.
Blue Crime, For Everest, Two Inch Astronaut, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Celestial Trax, MikeQ, Juliana Huxtable, Tygapaw
Friday, June 10 at Palisades.
If you’re not sure what you want to see at Northside this year, this is the show to go to. It’s got a little bit of everything: you’ve got catchy, mathy indie rock bands like Two Inch Astronaut and TWIABP, dance music from Celestial Trax and DJ MikeQ and a set from artist/poet/everything Juliana Huxtable. Honestly, if you just stayed at this show, there’s a very good chance you’d be able to avoid making a decision for the entire evening.
Spirit of a Slain Eagle, The Wendigo, Desert Sharks, Whiskey Bitches, Best Behavior, Holly Overton, The Numerators, Beth Israel, Heaven’s Gate, Pill, Future Punx, PC Worship
Saturday, June 11 at Alphaville.
If you feel like getting up “early”—meaning the first band is on at 3:15 p.m.—for this Saturday behemoth bill, then you’ll have plenty to sink your teeth into. The lineup features mostly local garage rockers and post-punks, including aggressive, brooding no wavers Pill and insano-brain synth rockers Future Punx. Closing out the marathon show is PC Worship, whose status as “that band that plays every local festival” is pretty obviously well-deserved once you see them live. If you do stay for the whole show, then God love you for making a scene you want to be a part of, but also, please, bring some earplugs, ok? Thanks.
T-Rextasy, Vundabar, And the Kids, Comfy, The Gotobeds, B Boys
Saturday, June 11 at Knitting Factory.
There’s not much to say about this show other than it features six hard-touring bands who mostly happen to be hitting their individual strides when it comes to musical output. Oh and they pretty much all have reputations for putting on great live shows. Personal favorites include Massachusetts-based Vundabar, who sound, well, like every other band in Massachusetts—but in a good way—and T-Rextasy, whose new album “Jurassic Punk” is both solid pun work and an excellent piece of music.
Turnip King, Dreamcrusher, Scully, Murals, Woodsman
Sunday, June 12 at Baby’s All Right.
I have a theory about how this bill was put together: the bookers purposely put the mellow, vibey bands like the excellent fuzz-pop/shoegaze group Turnip King and lo-fi dream pop band Scully on this bill because they knew people would need to come down after being treated to a full-frontal assault from Dreamcrusher. I saw Dreamcrusher like a year ago and I still think about it weekly. Definitely as much performance art as anything else, the prolific Brooklyn-based musician makes harsh electronic-punk-queer-noise music that is as hard to describe as it is to forget. If any of that sounds appealing, I strongly urge you to go to this show, have your mind messed up and then proceed to relax with a couple bands making well-crafted pop tunes.
Dust From 1000 Yrs, Kal Marks (Solo), Horse Jumper Of Love, Posse, Mannequin Pussy, Caddywhompus, Nine of Swords, Haybaby, Zula, Wall, Stove, Ian
Sunday, June 12 at Aviv.
This bill is well worth sweating it out in the heat trap that is Aviv-in-summer for a number of reasons. Number one on my list is probably hardcore heartthrobs Nine of Swords, who put on a great live show simply by virtue of their being intense, committed performers. Other stand-out acts on this bill include two stalwarts of the Exploding in Sound roster: downer-rock purveyors Kal Marks, performing as a solo act, and Ovlov offshoot Stove. Also of note is the incredibly well-named Philly punk band Mannequin Pussy, who are forever burned in my mind as that band that poured champagne on people at a DIY venue in Philadelphia.