Pitchfork’s Octfest headed indoors to Maspeth’sKnockdown Center last Saturday after a rainy weekend on Governor’s Island last year. Ten bands headlined by indie powerhouses Mogwai and Parquet Courts shared the venue with over 50 brewers and food vendor Mission Chinese Food. The festival had good luck with the weather this year as over 3,100 attendees filled Knockdown’s expansive interior and rolling backyard.
Philly rockers Control Top vociferously kicked things off outside at the Sidecar Stage for a crowd that grew fast as they sipped suds from their mini pint samplers. The band’s torrent of music bounced off the brick walls behind them and lead singer Ali Carter thanked her crowd for “joining us in this celebration of rage. Anger is powerful, don’t you forget it.”
Fellow Philadelphians Empath opened the main Growler stage inside with a brighter sound as guests mingled along the rows of brewers’ booths under the sunbeams pouring through Knockdown’s skylights.
Back outside, Priests frontwoman Katie Alice Greer danced in a leopard bodysuit matched with blue gloves (the band’s fashion prowess can also be seen in their video “The Seduction of Kansas,” which Greer directed).
Indie stalwarts Duster followed them with their first new songs in almost 20 years, including the aptly titled space-rockish single “Intersteller Tunnel.” Their fans started a healthy mosh pit and lead singer Clay Parton amplified their energy right back to them. “I see you guys down there,” he said. “Keep it going!”
While waiting for the coiffed and suited Danes of Iceage to take the Growler stage, we stopped by Junshine’s booth to sample their hard kombucha, which received an enthusiastic response endorsement from friends Ali and Carmella, of Rockville Center, Long Island:“The flavors are like walking into a ray of…of…sunshine!”
After Iceage sweated out their set in their formal wear, we spoke to guitarist Casper Morilla, who told us the band had only come to the U.S. for this one show. “We’re going to spend a couple of more days to, ya know, relax a little. We’re working on a new album right now that will be recorded in Portugal and come out next year.”
New Brunswick locals Screaming Females closed out the Sidecar stage not only with hits from their recent All at Once album but also past b-sides and rarities featured on their new Singles Too compilation.
Mogwai’s spot as co-headliner spot was justified, as an informal poll found that four of the first eight people in line for Octfest came to see them. Attendee number seven was Mike from Brooklyn who last saw them in 2017 at Terminal Five. “They’re awesome, I’ve been a fan for a long time, like 5-7 years.” The band’s free flowing setlist didn’t disappoint those toughing out their immense wall of sound with plenty of ear plugs.
Knockdown’s main room, which stretches out for half an acre, was even more packed when the backyard closed and everyone came inside for Parquet Courts’ closing set. Their latest single “Wide Awake” had fans jumping around and a core group of them stayed behind for autographs from guitarist Austin Brown and bassist Sean Yeaton.
Walking out with bellies full of beer just after 11pm, the departing crowd still had some nighttime to enjoy their more-than-buzzes. Earlier on, Toronto punkers Metz probably described that feeling best when lead singer Alex Edkins thanked the crowd like a true Canuck. “We’re happy to be back in the big city….so you guys are all hammered, eh?”
Photos by Nick McManus unless noted.