Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Northside Fest: Brian Wilson, Like Herding Cats tribute The Cure, Colleen Green, WALL, The Teen Age, Hinds, Stove

Brooklyn's annual Northside Festival has grown into a seven-day discovery event where a multitude of creative tech innovators rub elbows with their musical counterparts.

In addition to the expected wave of concerts from both bigger name touring acts and local bands, there is also the CMJ / SXSW-like saturation of panels and parties that weave together corporate sponsorship and attempted cultural trendsetting.

After picking up the necessary fashion accessory for full access to everything, an initial foray out into the streets and designated venues commenced.

Wythe Avenue in the heart of Williamsburg appeared to be the initial starting point for many things.

After spending a few minutes on the absurdly long line to get in to an Innovation event party sponsored by Manhattan law firm Perkins Coie ( law firm ?) for "drinks, tunes, sunshine, and sweeping views of the city at their happy hour on the rooftop of the McCarren Hotel" - - plan B was put into action and it was over to Brooklyn Brewery.

The German Startup Innovation Pitch Night and Happy Hour was no hassle to enter and a decidedly more fun event.  Besides having enjoyable chats with the nice German New Yorkers hosting it, the giveaway soft pretzels, cookies and Gerolsteiner sparkling natural mineral water.  That's German quality since 1888!

However, not to be denied - one more attempt was made on the McCarren Hotel Rooftop "Xanadu" event, this time with success.

Without a doubt the "sweeping views" of north Brooklyn certainly are most impressive.

As is the view from the other side - looking down on the pool area.   However, the packed upstairs bar (free alcohol, people!) teeming with polished, young urban professionals felt more like a corporate mixer than anything relating to an actual music fest.

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The music portion of the evening began at the always entertaining Sunnyvale venue for The Deli Magazine's Spring Print Issue Release Party and Showcase.

The show got off to a rousing start with opening act Mobile Steam Unit weaving a variety of culturally offbeat styles throughout their set.

Up next was recent DaveCromwellWrites / Deli Mag featured artist RANN.

As expected, their psych-pop sound was impeccably presented. Listen to their wonderful track “Reset” here on the Deli Mag Northside Showcase Soundcloud Playlist.

Victoria Reed followed, presenting her own unique brand of wistful singer-songwriter music.
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With that show in the capable hands of both The Deli operators and Sunnyvale's lovely staff, it was time to detour out of Northside for just a bit.

As is often the case in New York City, there are many things happening at the same time.  One event I didn't want to miss was the Like Herding Cats hosted tribute to "gothfather's" The Cure.

Skylar Stench (actually Skylar Spence playing under his cover band name) served up a number of early-era Cure songs with a standout version of "Boys Don't Cry" being a particular highlight.

Mixed in with the Cure songs were original compositions that fit in well with the overall mood.


By the time Like Herding Cats took the stage the crowd packed in tight with eager anticipation.

Opening with a note-perfect "Pictures Of You," the transformation to The Cure ecstasy was complete.

Also mixing together a set of brilliant Cure covers and their own original material, the big finale version of "Fascination Street" brought the house down.

Bass pedal array delivered the appropriate sound.

Full set list played.

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Hustling back to Sunnyvale, a full set of Surf Rock Is Dead was still to be experienced.

Their dreamy track "Never Be the Same" can also be heard on The Deli Northside Playlist

Show concluded, The Deli crew pitched in on some necessary back room maintenance.

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Friday the 10th kicked off down at old familiar haunt Muchmore's for the Ears To Feed showcase.

Specifically there to catch the good time atmosphere of The Teen Age

In addition to rolling out one hooky, uptempo great song after another, the band's live show is so much fun to be a part of.

 If you have any rock 'n roll rhythm in you at all, you are compelled to dance wildly to their tunes, slamming into other equally festive listeners.

Their shows quite simply put are super fun!

These two guys are the "legends" that make it all work.

Full Setlist of what they played at this show:

Criminal, Low Cunning, Open Up, Backwards, Too Little Too Late, Roundtrip, Glade Dreams Ventura, Pieces. Liquor Store

The band will take part in the Out In The Streets Festival, with a show on Sunday July 17


Go see them if you can.



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Another motivating force to be out on this Friday night of Northside was the pull of attending a BIG Sold Out show at fashionable hotspot Baby's All Right.

The Colleen Green headline show appealed on a number of levels.

Having one of her early tracks on the iPod popping up periodically at unexpected moments over the last couple of years ("Mu-mu-mu-mu-Mike!  Do you really love me?") - a fascination developed over time.  A curiosity evolved as to how something so structurally simple (just guitar, voice and the most basic, mechanical drumbeat) continued to evolve and grow in popularity.

Certainly there was the music-made-by-a-millennial-meant-for-other-millennials factor in play.

As well as an obviously attractive figure with stoner-sensibilities cool.

Her casual, easy-going stage presence struck the right balance with a guitar rock show experience.

Long, lean shredder

For her final song of the set she invited everyone in the audience to join her onstage.  A happy dance party broke out.

Even a post-show chaotic 2:30 in the a.m. meet and greet occurred.

Listen to Colleen Green

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Since the night before actually became the next day, Saturday's shows were bypassed in favor of rest and recuperation.

Simply because batteries had to be recharged for the BIGGEST show of the Fest on Sunday.

Living legend Brian Wilson was in town to perform his immeasurably influential album Pet Sounds in it's entirety - along with the best Beach Boys songs he ever wrote and recorded.

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Opening the show was a delightful, poppy all female 4 piece from Spain named Hinds.

Having spotted their featured photo in the music segment of the glossy event guide booklet included in badgeholder's swag bag, it was an added treat to experience this showcase.

It was a beautiful afternoon in Brooklyn and everyone around was bubbling with anticipation for the eventual headline show - so why not enjoy some energetic young ladies play their poppy rock songs.



They played an enjoyable set of catchy indie rock tunes and appeared to be having fun doing it.


Centrally positioned, Carlotta Cosials handled most of the lead vocals and crowd interaction.


As well as presenting the most striking figure.

For more info on them, this (always) ridiculous video "interview" from the one and only Nardwuar should do as well as any.
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In between the opener and headliner was a set from ex-Vampire Weekend member Rostam, who included a string section, dancers, and appearances by guest vocalists.

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Finally it was time for the glorious moment we had all been waiting for - Brian Wilson and his band were about to hit the stage.

 The two guys who organized the whole thing took a moment to chat with audience.

While two guys (and scores behind them) readied themselves for THE greatest Beach Boy to arrive.

Brian took position seated front and center at his white piano, while his 11 piece band surrounded him.

Acting as his appropriate foil was original Beach Boy Al Jardine, who Brian remarked "has known since High School."

Before playing all 13 Pet Sounds songs in original recorded order, Brian and the band played a number of Beach Boys classics, opening the show with “California Girls.” 

Followed by “I Get Around” - and then

A magical version of “Surfer Girl,” 


as well as a brilliant

 “Don’t Worry Baby.”   



Additionally, ’70s-era Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin came out to do lead vocals and lead guitar on the next two songs.

Delivering an excellent recreation of Carl’s vocals on “Wild Honey” and his own lead vocal turn on the 1973 hit single “Sail On, Sailor.”  He also hammed it up quite a bit, coming to the edge of the stage for "rock star" guitar poses and tandem "O-face" gestures.

The real secret weapon was Al's son Matt Jardine, who impeccably recreated all of the signature Beach Boys sound high falsetto vocals.

Brian led his band through a near-religious experience recreation of the entire Pet Sounds album.

This Brian and Al fronted band is the true Beach Boys experience.

Blondie Chaplin returned to shake the tambourine for the post Pet Sounds songs which included the rest of the greatest Beach Boys songs - "Good Vibrations," "Help Me Rhonda," "Barbara Ann," "Surfin' USA" and "Fun, Fun, Fun" - which we all sang along to.

An amazing 11 piece ensemble that featured two prominent keyboardists (who both sang a lot of background vocals), a thoroughly solid drummer and an additional percussionist.

High quality bass, guitar and horn player (who mostly played sax)

Worth every moment.

Full Set List Played

and Merch to be had.

an incredible night in McCarren Park

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One might assume there could be no topping that and frankly you should probably just go home at this point.  But, the night was still relatively young and there were additional Northside shows that could be caught.

Spotted in the trusty guidebook was a nearby performance soon happening by on-the-radar-for-a-while-now band WALL.

Having previously been made aware of their existence through friends, attendance at their show made the most post-Brian Wilson show sense.

The band appeals on a number of levels, balancing at late 70's "No Wave" sound with front loaded visual allure.

Although vocalist Samantha York may tower over the other members (both figuratively and literally) at first glimpse, deeper investigation reveals an equally balanced unit with everyone contributing to the songwriting.

While their sound initially brought to mind the Kim Gordon fronted Sonic Youth songs, lines like “fresh baked bread keep the pigs well fed” position the overall feel closer to Lydia Lunch’s sarcastic put-downs.

As in this song:


Other songs like “Fit The Part” bear out the  Kim Gordon comparisons,  especially the spoken word bit.  While one observer hears "a barbed rejection of corporate conveyor imaging rather than weary resignation," another view of this would be  she’s saying “If I'm going to be IN this game, I might as well try to  WIN it."   Confidence is key to success.


WALL play next on Saturday, July 16th 2016 as part of the Summer Thunder Series at Union Pool and is a Free Show during the daytime!  Why wouldn't you go see them at this if you could?

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Up next was Stove

Although ostensibly presented as a cohesive band unit, Stove gives the impression of being more the individual ideas and efforts of blue-shirted frontman Steve Hartlett there.  While filling out the live show with more than capable complimentary musicians.

In fact, one of those musicians is drummer Jordyn B. who has been covered more than a few times here in this blog over the last few years.  In addition to reappearing as a core member in the next "new thing" - she seems to be a much sought-after gun-for-hire when bands go on the road and need someone to fill in.

Which isn't hard to see why as she plays very well (in a loose mix of chops and chaos - she cites Keith Moon is a drum style role model) - and is good looking too.

And now it appears singing in and fronting her own band.  Well, as much as anyone can "front" from behind a drum kit.

Look and listen to this:

Back in September of 2013, Jordyn answered a number of questions about making music which appears on this blog here

With the end of Stove's set, a number of members from the previous two bands headed outside to smoke and chatter with their friends and media types.

Another quality Northside Fest in the books!

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