The 2016 Northside Festival is upon us with shows (that no longer include band Good English) happening all over Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick from June 9 - 12 (but not at Black Bear Bar). There are a zillion options, in just about every genre from huge names to undiscovered talent, and we've picked some we really think are worth going to. While some shows are technically sold out as far as advance tickets, you can still get in with a Northside badge, though of course it's based on capacity, so if there's something you really want to see you should go early or risk getting denied at the door.
What are your must-see Northside shows? Or do you just want to sit home and stream Bonnaroo? Check out our list (which is in chronological order) below.
Wolf Parade, Land of Talk @ McCarren Park (Thursday, June 9)
Two Montreal bands who were gone for about five years but are now back and still great, Wolf Parade and Land of Talk, will join forces for this free outdoor show. The type of indie rock that Wolf Parade play -- indie rock that rocks, accessible but too quirky for the radio, overflowing with ambition -- is less in fashion now than it was when their debut album Apologies to the Queen Mary came out, and their return is a much-needed filling for that void. As proved at those recent Bowery Ballroom shows, they've still got a very devoted fanbase who are ready to make these shows as lively in the crowd as they are on stage. Land of Talk hits a very similar spot, and their recent shows have been fantastic too (thanks in part to the return of original drummer Bucky). RSVP for this free show is still open. [Andrew Sacher]
Steve Gunn, Yonatan Gat, Cut Worms @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (Thurdsay, June 9)
An ecclectic and fun show, with a headlining set from Steve Gunn whose Matador debut, Eyes on the Lines, may be the mellow bliss-out guitar album of the summer, radiating warm vibes, impressive chops and Steve’s keen observational lyrical style. Opening this show is onetime Monotonix frontman Yonatan Gat who will likely play on the floor in the middle of the crowd, as well as Cut Worms who matches great songs (and an Everly Brothers style) with a quirky stage show, complete with canned applause. Tickets are still available. [Bill Pearis].
dälek, Tombs, Couch Slut, Yellow Eyes @ Saint Vitus (Thursday, June 9)
If you like your music dark, weird and heavy, this whole showcase is for you. dälek are the great industrial rap group who were arguably a little ahead of their time when they formed in the late '90s. But now in a post-Yeezus/Death Grips/Run the Jewels world, they fit right in. This year's Asphalt for Eden (their first album since 2009) is very good. Tombs continue to break the boundaries of sludge metal, and for this year's All Empires Fall EP they added Fade Kainer of Brooklyn industrial metal band Batillus to their lineup. Couch Slut offer up a blend of metal, punk, noise rock and more, and it's all highly confrontational. And Yellow Eyes are your dose of black metal for the night. Tickets are still available. [AS]
Yumi Zouma, TEEN, Prince Innocence, DJ Lemonade, CSLSX, Maria Usbeck @ Union Pool (Thursday, June 9)
New Zealand's Yumi Zouma turned National Sawdust into a dance party a couple weeks back at their record release show and will hopefully do the same to Union Pool here for the Cascine/Carpark showcase. Their debut LP, Yoncalla, is full of breezy, lite pop in the best possible way, and they're fun live. Tonight also features TEEN (whose album Love Yes is terrific), and Maria Usbeck who was last seen in Brooklyn singing from a hammock. Tickets are available (and if you don't have a pass, this will sell out).
TEEN (not to be confused with The Teen Age or Teen Body or Teengirl Scientist Monthly or Teenage Halloween who are all also playing Northside) also play Sunnyvale on Sunday with Uni Ika Ai, Erica Esso (aka Weston Minissali of Cloud Becomes Your Hand who play Northside at Aviv with the great Ed Schrader), and Half Waif (who you can also catch at our upcoming RBSS show). [BP]
D∆WN (Dawn Richard), Kingdom @ Rough Trade (Friday, June 10)
D∆WN (aka Dawn Richard) continues to push the boundaries of R&B, making music that's sometimes danceable, sometimes atmospheric and heady, sometimes none of the above. She recently surprise-released an EP called Infrared that was entirely produced by the forward-thinking electronic musician Kingdom, who this show is with. Tickets are still available. [AS]
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Two Inch Astronaut, For Everest @ Palisades (Friday, June 10)
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die are truly a unique band, with a sound that includes elements of Kinsella-style emo, soaring post-rock, atmospheric metal, bright synthpop, Neutral Milk Hotel-ish indie folk, and more; usually with at least three of those sounds popping up in the same song. Their live shows have eight or nine people on stage at once, with four guitarists, at least four singers, non-traditional (for rock) instrumentation, and more. Seeing them is quite the experience, and not one you'll regret. Openers include Two Inch Astronaut (who are fresh off a tour with Speedy Ortiz and Hop Along) and For Everest (whose members have sang on stage with TWIABP before). Tickets are still available. [AS]
JEFF the Brotherhood, Flasher, Bombay @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (Friday, June 10)
It feels a bit wrong to see JEFF the Brotherhood play in Brooklyn anywhere but Death by Audio, but seeing how that's not an option anymore (DbA is now Vice's lobby), they will enjoy the pristine sound of Music Hall of Williamsburg. Jake and Jamin Orall's beer-friendly brand of riffy party rock sounds good anywhere, even in non-DIY spots. Tickets are still available. [BP]
Colleen Green, Childbirth, Diet Cig @ Baby's All Right (Friday, June 10)
This late night show (doors at midnight) seems like a fun way to end your Friday night Northside, with the zingy, punky pop of Colleen Green, the very funny Childbirth (their first time on the East Coast), and the indomitable spirit of Diet Cig. This show is technically sold out -- you can get in with a Northside badge (based on capacity) -- but there are still tickets to Childbirth's show Thursday night at Shea Stadium with Aye Nako, Sharkmuffin, TinVulva, and Drella (tickets). You can also catch Colleen Green after Northside at Market Hotel on June 15 with Chastity Belt (whose Julia Shapiro is also in Childbirth) (tickets).
Bichkraft, Posse, Honey, Cottaging (night) / SAVAK, Honey Radar, Big Quiet, "Special Guest" (day) @ Union Pool (Saturday, June 11)
Fans of garage, punk and garagepunk, you could just hang out Union Pool for the whole of Saturday with two very good showcases. The afternoon hosts the Unblinking Ear showcase with SAVAK (ex Obits/Nation of Ulyses & more), Philly/Indianapolis' Honey Radar (who get compared to Guided by Voices a lot, in a good way), power pop band Big Quiet, and a "special guest" who you might want to stay up for. $10 at the door, 2 PM start. That night it's the Warf Cat showcase with Brookyn's shouty and highly strung Wall, Ukranian dark postpunk outfit
Bichkraft, Seattle's dreamy Posse, the Detroit-style rock of Honey. Tickets are available.
UPDATE 6/10: Bichkraft have canceled all three of their Northside appearances due to visa issues (but will be here soon.) The other shows they were scheduled to play included the Pitchfork showcase at Saint Vitus on Saturday with David Vassalottti, Breadwoman: Anna Holmer & Steven Warwick, Priests, Marshtepper, Rabit and Lotic; as well as Alphaville on Sunday with Salt People, Sunk Heaven, The Cradle, Old Maybe, Banned Books, and Luxardo (one of Simon Hanes of Guerilla Toss's many projects). [BP]
Comfy, The Gotobeds, B Boys @ Knitting Factory
This late show (11:45 PM doors/start) features Pittsburgh's The Gotobeds who deliver pointed, caustic lyrics with equally jagged hooks, and deliver a messy (in a good way) live show. (Their debut for Sub Pop is out fresh now.) Interestingly, The Gotobeds are named after Wire's drummer and are here paired with B Boys who sound like Wire.
Conor Oberst, Kacey Musgraves, The Felice Brothers @ McCarren Park (Saturday, June 11)
Conor Oberst spent most of last year focusing on his punk band Desaparecidos, but this week he'll be back in New York to focus on his quieter music. His solo shows usually include plenty of stuff by his beloved band Bright Eyes, plus Monsters of Folk songs are fair game too (probably no Desaparecidos). It also seems likely that openers Felice Brothers will join him on stage for a song or two. Also very exciting is co-headliner Kacey Musgraves, one of country-pop's biggest crossovers of the past few years. Part of that is because she's often closer to regular pop than country-pop -- she covers Nancy Sinatra and Gnarls Barkley, and fans of either of those artists would like Kacey too. But she certainly has plenty of country signifiers, including a recent collaboration with one of the genre's true heroes, Willie Nelson. Tickets are still available. [AS]
Grouper @ National Sawdust (two shows) (Saturday, June 11)
Experimental, ambient pop musician Grouper has been consistently great for quite a while now and her most recent album, 2014's Ruins, remains one of the best recent albums of its kind. Main member Liz Harris hasn't done a Grouper show in NYC since its release, so these shows feel like they've been a long time coming. The late show is being opened by Yowler, the very good bare-bones solo project of Maryn Jones (All Dogs, Saintseneca, etc). Tickets for the early and late shows are still available. [AS]
Psychic Ills, Weyes Blood, She-Devils @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (Saturday, June 11)
The duo that is Psychic Ills just dropped Inner Journey Out, their latest exploration of blissful drone-and-zone-out sounds that isn't unlike an Americana take on Spacemen 3. Opening tonight is the enchanting Weyes Blood, and Montreal's sample-heavy She-Devils. Tickets are still available. [BP]
Frankie Cosmos (playing Liz Phair), Ava Luna (playing Serge Gainsbourg), Deradoorian (playing Black Sabbath) @ Rough Trade (Saturday, June 11)
The 33 1/3 book series is presenting this show, which has artists covering music off classic albums that have been given the 33 1/3 treatment. Frankie Cosmos is doing Liz Phair's Exile In Guyville, which is a pretty great fit as Frankie likely owes a thing or two to that album. Then, Ava Luna should bring needed swagger -- and giddy strings -- to Serge Gainsbourg's pervy concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson. The one that will surely be the most unpredictable, if not the most exciting, is Deradoorian taking on material from Black Sabbath's 1971 doom metal blueprint Master of Reality. Deradoorian usually plays otherworldly art pop -- will she go doom for this, or will she turn Sabbath songs into something that sounds more like Deradoorian songs? Either one should be interesting. Tickets are still available. [AS & BP]
Brian Wilson (playing Pet Sounds), Rostam, Hinds @ McCarren Park (Sunday, June 12)
It's no secret that pop music as we know it (on both an under and above ground level) wouldn't exist without The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. For its 50th anniversary, the mastermind behind the album, Brian Wilson, will perform it front to back. His band includes fellow ex-Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin (which means there are more prime-era Beach Boys members in this band than the one who tours as "The Beach Boys"), and it goes without saying that it'll be a real treat to hear these guys sing these songs. The openers are much more contemporary, including former Vampire Weekend member Rostam (playing a very cool guest-filled set with two dancers from the Gravity Don’t Pull Me video, a string quartet, Hamilton Leithauser of the Walkmen, Deradoorian, and Wes Miles of Ra Ra Riot), and peppy Spanish band Hinds. Tickets are still available. [AS]
Omni, Malky, Yowler, She-Devils @ The Lyft Stage at Williamsburg Walks (Sunday, June 12)
Saturday and Sunday there are free day shows on Bedford, as the busy Williamsburg drag is shut down to car traffic for Williamsburg Walks. Sunday's show is particularly good, with the first NYC live performance from Atlanta's wire-y Omni (ex Deerhunter/Carnivores), plus Yowler (Maryn Jones of All Dogs and Saintseneca) and another chance to see She-Devils. [BP]
Into It. Over It., Hurry, Clique @ Rough Trade (Sunday, June 12)
Into It. Over It. is the project of Evan Weiss, who's been a highly prolific indie/emo musician for about 15 years. The latest IIOI album, this year's John Vanderslice-produced Standards, is easily their best yet. It's got a sound that's sort of the midpoint between Death Cab for Cutie and Owen, but with busier drumming than either of those bands have ever had. Evan's melodies quickly stick, his lyrics are highly specific, and his sound manages to keep one foot in nostalgia, one in the now. Openers include two bands who pull from '90s indie rock, Hurry (mem Everyone Everywhere) and the Topshelf-signed Clique. Tickets are still available. [AS]
Oddisee & Good Compny, Lushlife + CSLSX @ Brooklyn Bowl (Sunday, June 12)
When Oddisee played the BrooklynVegan-curated RBSS show in January with a DJ backing him, he put on an excellent set with a backdrop of jazz, soul, funk and more, and highly skillfull rapping. It was already exciting to see him like that, but it'll possibly be even more exciting to see him at this show with a full live band. Making the show doubly great is an opening set from Lushlife + CSLSX, who just released the excellent collaborative indie-rap album Ritualize. It features guest spots from Ariel Pink, I Break Horses, Marissa Nadler, RJD2, Deniro Farrar, Killer Mike and Freeway, which should give you an idea of how diverse it is. Tickets are still available. [AS]