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Northside Festival Highlights (Part 1)

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Photos and words by Devon Bristol Shaw


“System of a Down is my favorite band of all time and you can quote me on that,” said one Brooklyn/Queen’s based musician performing this past weekend at Northside Festival. Ok, done and done. Weirdly enough, this statement would come back to haunt me.

IMG_2742 2Guitarist for Tony Molina at Rough Trade

Northside Festival is the new new. It’s CMJ reincarnate. It’s Brooklyn’s answer to SXSW and for whatever reason, it seems to bring the summer heatwave with it every year. I guess you could say it brings the heat in more ways than one, because the acts performing this year were just that, HOT. So hot in fact, they made my camera battery swell and rendered it useless the first day.

IMG_2720Thursday at the McCarren Park stage

But I’m a New Yorker (by way of Southern California, of course), a Brooklynite if you will. I’ve learned to adapt to less than ideal situations when called upon. So a broken camera simply means getting fancy with your iPhone angles and begging Facebookland for emergency help. My camera is like an extension of my arm, and without it, I’m just another audience member, which to me, feels awkward as fuck! Nevertheless, I was able to borrow a point and shoot and caught one of the most epic shows I have ever been privy to.

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IMG_2695Dani Miller of Surfbort at Alphaville

Gritty local darlings, Stuyedeyed (pronounced like a stye in your eye), started off a raucous Thursday night of debaucherous laced music that could induce licentious behavior within even the most puritanical of listeners. It was heavy and raw and the perfect lead into Surfbort’s set, which was peppered with Dani Miller’s maniacal laughter and songs about anarchy and aborting Trump. When asked to describe Surfbort via text, Dani describes their sound like “dolphin’s choking on trash, Kurt’s last words, a sweat[y] escape of muhahah and collected screams in bottles from the masses of people who won’t stand for Trump’s bullshit and just needed to release the screams and yells of frustration on stage,” she adds. “Drink a piña colada and look up into the sky at the stars.”

IMG_2738Jana of Lower Dens at Rough Trade

Since we ended up doing just that later in the night, I couldn’t have described them better myself. Then again, it was mid-day and she had also just woken up. While many of the crowd members moshed in the middle of the venue with Miller, others waited in sweaty anticipation for the headliners to grace the stage.

IMG_2691Pat of Meatbodies at Alphaville

To which the Meatbodies of Los Angeles, California certainly did not fail to disappoint. Self-described as “heavy groovy,” the band was in full entertainment mode. Band members, Chad and Pat, worked up a sweat shaking their heads in time to the fast paced drum beats and guitar riffs pouring out of the towering high stacks.

The crowd got so rowdy at one point, that nearly half of the room was knocked down in the mayhem of the music––and this was simply just the beginning of Northside. The next day, Stuyedeyed went on to open for famed punk rockers, Buzzcocks and Meatbodies played another sold-out AdHoc show in Manhattan.

IMG_2728Chris Pickering and Jake Pepper of Future Punx at Alphaville

The festival continued to be filled with musical inspiration, collaboration and experimentation. With such up-and-coming and well known acts as Jay Som, Kasami Washington (Saxophonist for Kendrick Lamar) and Dirty Projectors appearing. However, notable highlights included (new found favorite) Tony Molina performing Dinosaur Jr’s You’re Living All Over Me and Baltimore-natives Lower Dens creating a karaoke-stylized performance of ABBA’s Gold: Greatest Hits. The crowd not only sang along, but were also invited to join the band dancing on stage.

IMG_2756Crowd listening to Thursday close out the festival at the McCarren Park stage

I on the other hand stayed on ground-level, gleefully sipping on the sweetest Carlo Rossi wine, poured into a plastic cup by none other than Tony Molina himself. Ironically, while awaiting Lower Dens to take the stage, System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” was playing loudly over the sound system. I couldn’t help but take this as a serendipitous sign of good things to come. And that they did.

IMG_2731Audience members watching the Eaters set during the Dull Tools’ Showcase at Alphaville

I ended the night at the Dull Tools’ Alphaville showcase taking in the likes of PC Worship, Eaters and Future Punx. Bands not only known for their experimental musical stylings, but also their radically eccentric custom light-shows. Should you ever get the chance, I highly recommend checking out all of these guys live.

On the last day of Northside my photographic journey ended by having the most MySpaced-era music filled day. With the likes of Jeff Rosenstock, The Hotlier, Pup of Toronto (Stranger Things favorite) and post-hardcore heroes, Thursday closing out the festival. I was overcome with feelings of excitement, nostalgia and the sentiment that, unbeknownst to me, Sundays are actually meant for Thursday.

IMG_2732Bob Jones of Eaters ripping it up at Alphaville



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