a guide to the Northside Festival – Day One (Marnie Stern, free beer, a map, the Hold Steady, Bravo Silva & more)
by Bill Pearis
Well it's the inaugural Northside Festival, the L Magazine's attempt at bringing the spirit of SXSW to Brooklyn. At least that what I think they're doing. What makes the Northside Festival different than CMJ, or the New Music Seminar if you remember back that far, is that all the participating venues are pretty much in walking distance of one another.* (Though getting from, say, Studio B to Glasslands you might consider a cab or car service.) Part of the appeal of getting the Festival badge ($45 until 5pm Thursday/today), which was super-cheap let's admit it, is the ability to zip from venue to venue, sampling as many bands as you can. See some you know you like, try some you've never heard.
Opening night (tonight, Thursday, June 11) has plenty of options, though I'll be honest I don't feel like anything is an absolute must-see. The big draw for most people is obviously The Hold Steady at Music Hall of Williamsburg, though I wouldn't be surprised if there's a line at new DIY venue Shea Stadium, which is featuring Magic Markers, Marnie Stern, The Fly Girlz/Nine II Thesaurus, and Dynasty Handbag. Though, it's Bushwick locale may keep some people away. And there's also the Official Opening Party at Studio B, that not only has Brightback Morning Light and Zomes (ex Lungfish), but also three hours of free beer and BBQ for badge-holders.
And while I might hit Studio B early, I'd bet I'll probably gravitate to Public Assembly for the Modular party featuring Philadelphia DFA signees Free Energy (ex members of Hockey Night); Minneapolis' Solid Gold who look more like rockers than a dance act and were pretty good when I saw them at SXSW; and Brooklyn's Tanlines who are kind of electronic afropop.
And though the slot that was to be filled by France's Francois Virot at Union Pool is now marked "TBA", the bill still includes Sharon Van Etten and Olof Arnalds, the latter of whom is also playing a set at the BrooklynVegan showcase at Music Hall on Friday.
A couple other notes: With no links to bands' Myspace pages or websites, the Northside Fest's schedule page keeps things mysterious. Like, is the Discovery playing Spike Hill tonight at 9:30 the Vampire Weekend/Ra Ra Riot sideproject? No, it's a funk/soul/disco outfit who've been playing around the city since 2006.
And the schedule promises "secret surprise guests" at Coco 66 tonight. A look at the venue's website reveals it's a Bravo Silva reunion, who broke up in 2006.
And lastly, for those who aren't intimate with the neighborhood, Look at Me I Made A Blog created a really helpful Google Map with all participating Northside Festival venues.
This is obviously not everything that's going on. What did I miss? Stay tuned for the guide to Friday. A video of Marnie Stern from SXSW 2007, and the Glasslands flyer, below...