"This is a beer festival and I'm drinking Corona," noted METZ frontman Alex Edkins in the middle of his band's set. "What's wrong with me?" The 2019 edition of Octfest, the third annual beer-and-indie-rock festival from Pitchfork and their beer site, October, took over the whole of Queens' gigantic Knockdown Center on Saturday. (This was the first year Octfest actually took place in October.) With an outdoor and indoor stage, beer and food tastings all over the grounds, and a relaxed, hang-out atmosphere, it felt like a SXSW party with an emphasis on microbrews and was a pretty enjoyable day all-around.

For me, Mogwai were the highlight of the day, partially because their widescreen post-rock sound works well with a big, boomy space like Knockdown Center and partially because they're just so good at it. With simple but effective lighting, songs like "Hunted by a Freak," "2 Rights Make 1 Wrong" and "Mogwai Fear Satan" filled every corner of the massive main room. I hadn't seen them live in a long time, and was really impressed. Setlist is below.

I was wondering if Mogwai were going to be the main attraction but Parquet Courts, who have played Knockdown Center before, had the crowd dancing start-to-finish, even if their brand of post-punky rock didn't quite reach the back of the room. I'm not sure if Iceage (a late fill-in for Dungen, who had visa issues) did either, but up near the stage their dark, swaggering style was very effective. And loud. If there was one thing about every band I saw on the main stage at Octfest, it was that they were crazy loud. I had wondered if METZ's early set might be the most ear-piercing of the day (they are often the loudest band band on a bill) but the rest of the day kept pace.

The smaller back courtyard stage felt a little more DIY and punk, which better suited more aggressive bands like Screaming Females and Priests than it did Lower Dens (who suffered from sound issues) and the reunited Duster who were maybe just a little too laid back. I missed the first two bands of the day, Control Top and Empath.

As for the beer part of Octfest, the chip wristband payment system worked great and you didn't stand in line for the 3 oz samples (poured into cute little Octfest mini pint glasses) for more than a minute or two. The same cannot be said for the food, provided by Mission Chinese, which had very long lines at their three different stands the whole day, and most of it was sold out before 8 PM.

Pictures from Octfest are in the gallery above and videos of Parquet Courts and Mogwai are below.

SETLIST: Mogwai @ Octfest 2019
Crossing the Road Material
Hunted by a Freak
I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
Party in the Dark
Rano Pano
2 Rights Make 1 Wrong
Auto Rock
Old Poisons
Mogwai Fear Satan


photos by Edwina Hay

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