This week, more than 300 bands will barrage north Brooklyn for the ninth iteration of the Northside Festival, pushing the neighborhood’s extensive network of concert venues to the limit. There will be no shortage of good vibes, ringing eardrums, and sweaty dance parties tucked away in north Brooklyn’s every recess. The smorgasbord guarantees that there’s something for everyone—from hardcore to hip-hop—but picking what shows to prioritize can be intimidating. Here are the shows you can’t miss this weekend.
The first must-see concert is Thursday evening’s triple threat at McCarren Park, featuring 2017 buzz band Jay Som at 6:30, jazz mammoth Kamasi Washington at 7:30, and Brooklyn’s own Dirty Projectors at 8:45. Lo-fi pop wunderkind Melina Duterte, recording under the alias Jay Som, sings with the hushed intimacy of all of us shower balladeers, but with the best fuzzy melodies this side of Youth Lagoon. In March, she released her excellent debut Everybody Works, a record containing hints of arena-bound choruses and DIY production alike. She’s opening for Kamasi Washington, the bandleader and composer who introduced the millennial crowd to jazz’s ease and urgency by lending his virtuosic tenor saxophone to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Washington is the rare artist to resuscitate a genre for the 21st Century, honoring jazz’s legacy as a space for experimentation and innovation.
Headlining the bill is Dirty Projectors, playing the first of only two tour dates so far scheduled behind 2017’s self-titled album. This will be something of a debut for Dave Longstreth’s something-of-a-solo version of Dirty Projectors—he’s already announced that the band will be playing the new album, Dirty Projectors, in it’s entirety.
We are performing the album Dirty Projectors in its entirety for one of probably 2 or 3 times ever tomorrow night in McCarren park in Brooklyn as part of the Northside Festival. By 'we' I mean : human all-star @nat_baldwin , actual prodigy @bellinspace , Brazilian force of nature @maurorefosco , father of sonic rainbows @tyondaibraxton , and of course the ungrammable Mike Johnson (and a special guest too!) This is the first Dirty Projectors show in forever and it's gonna be so epic. There is no tour on this album so this is truly a moment. Also so so excited and honored to be sharing the bill with @jaysomband and @kamasiwashington. Ok thank you for reading, see you tomorrow maybe!
In place of the yelping harmonies and precious arrangements of Bitte Orca, which propelled the band to alt-stardom in 2009, Longstreth opts for spare beats and a plunking piano this time around. With the Dirty Projectors’ knack for discovering the pop sensibilities inside unusual sounds, the band’s set is sure to draw the crowd together for some of this summer’s most memorable singalongs.
On Saturday night, Miguel will sex up Brooklyn with his philandering blend of R&B and pop at McCarren Park. Anchored with opening sets by BJ the Chicago Kid and Saro, the show is bound to feature some of the most sultry and exuberant music the festival has to offer. Though it’s unclear if Miguel has new solo material to perform—his latest release is a feature on British pop star Dua Lipa’s latest single, and before that came a collaboration with DJ Premier called “2 Lovin U,” a reimagining of the concluding track to 2015’s swooning Wildheart—his stage presence is a sight unto itself.
With songs as well-coiffed as his pompadour, and just as irresistible, Miguel is not to be missed. Just don’t get dropkicked.
If neither bedroom introspection nor lascivious serenades are for you, never fear. Northside’s closing performance at McCarren Park on Sunday boasts a lineup of punk music meant to inject adrenaline straight into your veins. It’s also free—so you don’t have to pay a dime to see some of today’s most vital rock performers.
Tony Molina kicks the show off at 3:30 with his sub-two minute bangers, followed by contemporary punk icon Jeff Rosenstock, still riding high off rave reviews of his 2016 album WORRY. The Hotelier will take the stage at 5:00 to prove that they’re more than the vanguard of emo-revival, but a fire breathing rock outfit with a slew of searing, yearning tunes of youth lost and found. As if we’d even want a respite, PUP—who famously named their 2016 album The Dream Is Over after a doctor’s lament at the state of singer Stefan Babcock’s vocal chords—aim to test our mettle with balls-to-the-wall choruses.
The swan song of Sunday’s show, and thus the festival, belongs to the New Jersey post-hardcore legends Thursday. After a five year hiatus, in which many of the young musicians in the opening bands marinated in the innovative sound of these alt-rock OG’s dark and raw take on emo, Thursday will start to pummel Brooklyn at 7:00. I suppose one could lounge on a picnic blanket on McCarren’s lawn to survey these shows, but it’s going to require real discipline not to get up and dance.
It’s worth exploring Northside’s deep lineup to unearth some bands who haven’t yet made it big. If you’re hankering for a show that will feel a bit more communal than the heavyweights at McCarren Park, on Thursday Union Pool will host the discomfiting pop of Ginla, Dougie Pool, and She-Devils—a perfect soundtrack to today’s unsettling political climate.
At 10:00pm on Saturday, Julia Holter graces National Sawdust with her orchestral ambient arrangements. She’ll be playing a solo show, meaning we all get to witness how she spins the oceanic atmosphere of her music with nothing but a few instruments and a loop pedal. For those of us more into “angry wistfulness,” Girlpool will play Warsaw at 10:30 on Friday, touring behind their fantastic record Powerplant from a few weeks ago.
But don’t take my word for it. Sometimes the best shows are the ones you don’t intend to see. Maybe our abysmal subway system (thanks, Governor Cuomo!) will trap you somewhere where an artist you don’t know is about to play. Get a beer, stick around, and give them a shot. Northside is a buffet with a generous smattering of new tastes to sample.