Everything you Need to Know About Northside Music 2015

06/04/2015 10:20 AM |


Northside Festival might now have multiple components to it, but music is how it all started, and music is still the center around which the whole festival orbits. What we’re trying to say is: Massive public concerts in the bustling heart of Williamsburg have quite the gravitational pull. And with three outdoor stages, featuring more shows and artists than any previous year, Northside 2015 is bigger and more spectacular than ever before. Here’s a rundown of the 2015 schedule’s marquee events:

The Inlet @ 50 Kent


Friday, June 12th
Neko Case, Rhye, Majical Cloudz

Neko Case got her start playing drums in Vancouver punk bands in the mid-80s, then discovered she could sing. In the decades since, she’s secured a place in the singer-songwriter firmament with her magical realist lyrics and brassy vocals, which she often lends to Canadian indie rock mainstays The New Pornographers. Her sixth studio album, 2013’s Grammy-nominated The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, is both her strangest and most autobiographical, laying bare her struggles with depression. Case is joined by LA’s R&B crooners Rhye, whose vocals are so sultry and Sade-like most critics mistook them for women upon their debut (they’re actually two men), and Montreal electronic indie-pop duo Majical Cloudz.


Saturday, June 13th
Best Coast, Built to Spill, Alvvays, Bully

Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno secure their status as the Golden State’s surf-pop-punk mascots with their new album, California Nights. It’s a little less sun-drenched than previous jangle-pop releases like “Crazy for You”—there’s thicker fuzz on Cosentino’s distinct vocals. 90s indie giants Built to Spill will play Untethered Moon, their first album in six years and the most universally praised since 1999’s classic Keep it Like a Secret. They’re joined by Toronto indie-pop quintet Alvvays, whose eponymous Chad van Gaalen-produced debut topped college charts last year with its goldtoned guitars and frontwoman Molly Rankin’s wry, self-deprecating lyrics, and Nashville grunge-rockers Bully, playing songs off their upcoming debut album Feels Like.


Sunday, June 14th
Run the Jewels, Sleigh Bells, Vince Staples

Veteran duo El-P and Killer Mike have had a hell of a year. They topped 2014 critics’ lists with their pummeling second record, Run the Jewels 2, and toured the world on an extended victory lap. Amid a flurry of social unrest, Mike became a voice of reason in the national media. They’ve even got their growing audience anxiously awaiting a remix record made out of cat noises. Now, Run The Jewels return to El-P’s home turf, Brooklyn, to burn Northside 2015 down at our closing-night rager! They’ll be joined by party-starting duo Sleigh Bells, who’ll bring their own giddy mash-up of metal riffs and bubblegum hooks, and young rapper Vince Staples, a one-time Odd Future brat who’s matured into one of the most acclaimed young voices in rap.


McCarren Park


Thursday, June 11th

After the break up of late-80s indie-pop greats Galaxie 500, singer/songwriter Dean Wareham formed Luna. Their decade-long run of graceful rock records proved even more perfect. The assured Luna lineup of the early 00s will be reunited here—Sean Eden, Lee Wall, Wareham, and his wife and longtime artistic collaborator Britta Phillips. This free show in the summer sun will be their first New York City performance in over ten years.


Friday, June 12th
The Very Best, HEEMS

UK-based beatmaker Johan Karlberg and Malawian-born, London-based vocalist Esau Mwamwaya, whom you likely first heard featured on M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” make up eminently danceable Afro-pop duo The Very Best. Their latest album, Makes a King, is less club-ready but more nuanced than previous releases, with guest spots by Malawian choirs and Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio. Queens-raised rapper HEEMS, formerly of hip-hop wiseass trio Das Racist, performs his recent debut solo album Eat Pray Thug.


Saturday, June 12th
Against Me!, Special Guests

After 2014’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, a powerful release following lead singer Laura Jane Grace’s coming out as a trans woman, Florida anarcho-punks Against Me! are as battle-ready as ever. They’re leading the charge in the trans-rights movement with anthems like “True Trans Soul Rebel,” which Grace recently performed with Miley Cyrus for the pop star’s new foundation benefiting homeless LGBTQ youth.


UOLive @ Williamsburg Walks


Saturday, June 13th and Sunday, June 14th
Bedford Avenue, a main artery of Brooklyn’s cultural pulse, will once again become Northside’s third outdoor stage on both weekend afternoons this year. In collaboration with Williamsburg Walks and thanks to our partners at Urban Outfitters, the neighborhood will delight to free performances from a varied lineup of up-and-coming performers. The street will see sets from stylish electronic duo Light Asylum, local psych-rockers Sunflower Bean, adorably twee-pop group Eskimeaux, otherworldly experimental singer GABI, and a few more too exciting to yet reveal!


Northside Music: A Day-by-Day Guide

With well over 400 bands booked every year, the festival presents too much music for any one person to experience in full. An informed plan is fairly crucial to choosing your own adventure. As a leg-up for both badge-holding venue hoppers and picky single show-goers, we’ve gone through the schedule day by day to underline a few of the line-up’s most notable inclusions.


Thursday, June 11th


Femi Kuti & The Positive Force
The son of world-music icon Fela Kuti was a member of his father’s legendary band from a very young age. His recent collaborations with high-profile hip-hop and rock groups has continued Afrobeat’s crossover into the pop mainstream. He’ll appear with The Positive Force, a seasoned backing ensemble he’s led since the late 1980s.
Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue


Bulletproof Stockings
You should know going in that men are barred from attending shows by these devout Hasidic alt-rockers. Taking an ancient principle from The Torah and embracing it as a method for modern empowerment, this Crown Heights group thrives on the specific energy of women performing music exclusively for women.
Bar Matchless, 557 Manhattan Avenue

Lower Dens
Baltimore quintet Lower Dens leave behind cerebral, experimental art rock in favor of gauzy retropop with their latest album, Escape from Evil, which showcases lead singer Jana Hunter’s silky, androgynous vocals and stripped-bare emotions.
Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. 6th Street


Jacco Gardner
26-year-old Dutch multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner’s baroque pop recalls the eccentric storytelling of 60s psychedelia (think Brian Wilson and Syd Barrett): His 2013 debut, Cabinet of Curiosities, is heavy on mellotrons and harpsichords, samples of laughing babies, and song titles like “The One-Eyed King,” like a soundtrack to a dark fairy tale.
Rough Trade NYC, 64 N. 9th Street

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat
Comedian/writer/musician Ed Schrader’s caveman grunt-shrieks and floor tom pummels plus Devin Rice’s menacing bass guitar make up this Baltimore punk duo, reminiscent of Frank Black and 90s noise rock weirdos Killdozer.
Palisades, 906 Broadway

Friday, June 12th

Spider Bags
Chapel Hill road warriors Spider Bags have spent four records expressing their queasy, paranoid feelings with punchy garage rock. Last year’s Frozen Letter took the customary sick riffs and sour wit of earlier work and stretched them out to a psychedelic sprawl.
Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. 6th Street


Alden Penner & Michael Cera
The semi-reclusive and kind of angel-voiced Penner, formerly of beloved Canadian indie-pop band The Unicorns, teamed up with Arrested Development star and lo-fi folkie on the down-lo, Michael Cera, to record a concept EP about Canadians living on Mars. Live, the whimsy will be nigh unstoppable.
The Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Avenue

Ryan Hemsworth
The DJ, remixer, beat-maker, and solo performer from Nova Scotia blurs lines between hazy hip-hop instrumentals, smooth R&B, mellowed-out synth pop hooks, and half-remembered video game themes. Unbound by genre, Hemsworth stays faithful to a daydream of his own design.
Palisades, 906 Broadway


Ex Hex
Led by undersung multi-instrumentalist Mary Timony (Helium, Autoclave, Wild Flag), Washington, D.C.-based trio Ex Hex released their debut album Rips last year, full of fierce and fast garage-pop anthems. Timony’s vocals are melodic and energetic over screaming guitar licks, less sullen and talk-singy than in previous projects.
Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. 6th Street


The Holydrug Couple
Chilean psych-rockers The Holydrug Couple, made up of members Ives Sepúlveda and Manu Parra, are as spaced-out and dreamy as their name suggests. (Actually, they have a song called “Dreamy,” off their last album, Moonlust). They’re also playing Friday and Saturday at Baby’s All Right.
Alphaville, 140 Wilson Avenue


Beach Fossils
Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils are known for energetic live shows that bring their atmospheric lo-fi tracks to a fever pitch, something that sets them apart from other lackadaisical janglers like Wavves and DIIV (a spin-off project of former member Cole Smith).
Rough Trade NYC, 64 N. 9th Street


Frankie Cosmos
Frankie Cosmos is the stage name of 21-year-old Greta Kline (daughter of actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates), whose pared-down dream-pop ballads, off last year’s debut Zentropy, fall just short of twee. Kline, who studied poetry and writes wry, clever lyrics, also plays bass in the band Porches.
Rough Trade NYC, 64 N. 9th Street


Saturday, June 13th


Lightly melodic but swaggering tough, this Manchester rock band is a growing force. Ready to apply a few tricks they picked up supporting Sleater-Kinney’s British tour, singer/guitarist Faith Holgate and her locked-in gang will perform material from their brand new record, Wild Nights, for the first time in front of a U.S. audience.
Rough Trade NYC, 64 N. 9th Street


DJ Premier (w/ full live band)
As one-half of Gang Starr, and producer for a who’s who of megastars including Jay-Z, Kanye West, D’Angelo, Nas, and the Notorious B.I.G., DJ Premier’s legacy is secure. He’s an artist who helped define the sound of American hip-hop. With live drums, bass, and horn arrangements, that sound will come to life like never before.
Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue

Pusha T
As one half of gritty rap duo Clipse and into his formidable career as a solo MC, Pusha T has been one of hip-hop’s most captivating street-level storytellers, bringing real menace to morally gray depictions of life in and around the drug trade. (This date of House of Vans’ free summer show schedule overlaps with Northside. Limited entry is available to badge holders.)
House of Vans, 25 Franklin Street


Viet Cong
The self-titled debut from this Calgary band has been the breakout indie-rock record of 2015 so far. The group (featuring members of the tragically cut-short band Women) is a juggernaut of sharp angles and mordant humor. Their songs are bleak but romantic, facing the uselessness of existence with fists balled and tongues in cheek.
Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. 6th Street (Saturday and Sunday)


Girl Band
These Irish punks, actually made up of all lads despite their chosen name, set absurd lyrics to a relentless almost militaristic beat. Like The Fall and Liars before them, they whip their non-sequiturs into a frenzy, prolonging the second just before the cult members might start speaking in tongues.
Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. 6th Street (Saturday and Sunday)


Blonde Redhead
Now twenty years into a formidable career in experimental rock, and experienced enough to have come from an era when NYC’s best music still existed primarily in downtown Manhattan, Blonde Redhead continue on. They’ve deliberately changed their moves with each release, veering from sparkling dream pop to dissonant noise and back again.
Warsaw, 261 Driggs Avenue


Bits of hip-hop, dub, IDM, techno, and ambient all filter through the work of Brooklyn producer Zachary Saginaw, but gently warped like light coming up through a swimming pool. Each successive album he’s put out through influential Michigan label Ghostly International has been more colorful, expressive, and melodic than
the last.
The Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Avenue


Sunday, June 14th


The Sun Ra Arkestra
Taking up the enormous legacy of late jazz genius Sun Ra, his cosmic Arkestra continues on. Now led by maestro Marshall Allen, a 91-year-old living legend of the saxophone in his own right, this free-floating crew of seasoned pros in sequined robes tour the globe aiming for outer space.
Rough Trade NYC, 64 N. 9th Street

With futuristic beats and frank, queer subject matter, this Brooklyn rapper is moving the genre forward on multiple fronts. But to pin Le1f’s appeal on long-overdue representation alone is laughable, given the skill and fire he brings. Last year’s Hey EP was his most polished yet, and he’s poised for an even bigger breakout.
Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue


Performing continuously for the last 35 years, these London-based headbangers are the longest-running all-female band in the world. Beginning their career as close comrades of Motörhead, Girlschool has outlasted every stylistic blip heavy metal’s ever gone through and continued their riffing on the other side.
St. Vitus, 1120 Manhattan Avenue


The Northside “Fringe Festival”

This year’s programming stretches further than ever before, both in sound and neighborhood geography. Adventurous listeners should make it a point to seek out these shows, bringing the schedule’s oddest and most exciting artists to some of the borough’s most vital contemporary venues.

Experimental x Noise
An opening night dive into the strange corners of Brooklyn music at newly active Bushwick focal point, Aviv. Topped by elder psychedelic wanderers Excepter, the show also spotlights White Suns’ screeching drone, the guitar mesmerism of Baby Birds Drink Milk, the shamanic dance fragments of Mezzanine Swimmers, and Lutkie’s blissful clangs and bellows.
6/11 @ Aviv, 496 Morgan Avenue


Pitchfork Presents…
In what’s become a distinguished festival tradition, the dominant taste-making publication will again program both weekend nights at Greenpoint metal club Saint Vitus. Friday night’s bill features raw and personal new work by indie-pop veteran Fred Thomas (ex-Saturday Looks Good to Me), plus dark and romantic L.A. rockers Gun Outfit, songstress-with-heart-on-her-sleeve Mitski, and maker of “QUEER NIHILIST REVOLT MUSIK”, Dreamcrusher. Saturday’s sets veer more sinister still with northwestern doom duo The Bell Witch, punishing Quebequois black metal group Akitsa, brutal noise artist Alberich, and a secret guest who’ll fit right into the void.
6/12-13 @ Saint Vitus, 1120 Manhattan Avenue


Xiu Xiu w/ bottoms & EULA
Jamie Stewart broke new ground in self-destructive goth-pop on Xiu Xiu records that emphasized inner darkness over jet-black outerwear. He’ll perform their songs in his first visit to Bushwick’s DIY scene, joined by abrasive young Brooklyn bands following in his trail—electro-punk drag queens, bottoms, and next wave No Wavers, EULA.
6/13, evening @ Palisades, 906 Broadway


Fathers of Footwork, vol. 1
Freakishly on-point promoters AdHoc bring dance music history to life, uniting pioneers of Chicago’s footwork movement under one Brooklyn roof. “Footwork” is an aggressively sped-up, stacked-beat style that gained popularity in the 1990s as soundtrack to epic underground dance battles. As original innovators of a still-blooming sound, DJ Spinn, RP Boo, Traxman, and more will take some kids to school.
6/13, late night @ Palisades, 906 Broadway


Software Recording Co. Label Showcase
Software was founded in 2011 by Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin as an electronic and experimental offshoot of local indie imprint Mexican Summer. Their first official Northside showcase features some far-out stuff, including the swooning ambient fuzz of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, the active synth-scapes of Ryan McRyhew’s Thug Entrancer, and GABI’s singular pop vocals.
6/13 @ Aviv, 496 Morgan Avenue


The great local label, as likely to release a baffling noise tape as some slick bit of left-field disco, will showcase the breadth of their roster with a massive all-day anniversary celebration in a tiny Williamsburg room. Roaring punk duo Yvette and minimal techno producer Malory are just two wildly differing highlights.
6/13 @ Muchmore’s, 2 Havemeyer Street


Delia Gonzalez performs In Remembrance
The DFA Records mainstay switches from the minimal electronic pulses of her collaborations with Gavin Russom to the stately piano composition of her latest solo record, In Remembrance. Composed to accompany film footage of dancers in motion, the music is simple, melancholy and hypnotic. It’ll be the rare modern classical performance on the cozy Greenpoint piano bar’s opulent backroom baby grand.
6/14 @ Manhattan Inn, 632 Manhattan Avenue


Zola Jesus w/ Blanck Mass & Container
Zola Jesus’ operatic voice and dark, dramatic vision for pop music has made her a rising star. She’ll headline this Northside event with opening acts that nod to her experimental roots. Her set will be preceded by a rare U.S. appearance by Fuck Buttons member Benjamin John Power’s shadow rave solo project, Blanck Mass, and the intensely physical industrial dance beats of rising Rhode Island producer, Container.
6/14 @ Warsaw, 261 Driggs Avenue