Monday, June 20, 2011

Northside Music Festival: Review Part 1

Photos: Courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan

My own personal Northside Music Festival was kicked off by Atlas Sound at St. Cecila's church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The venue, as you can see above, is an absolutely gorgeous chapel where the pews acts as the seating. The chapel provided the perfect space for Bradford Cox's beautifully, haunting drone. The set was almost exclusively new songs as Cox told the crowd he had forgotten how the old ones go. There were still some old songs sprinkled in like "Sheila" and a folked out version of "Walkabout" featuring some excellent harmonica. Throughout the set, I felt like I was in a trance as Cox layered each different part of the song on top of one another creating a dense and enveloping combination of vocals, guitars and ambient noise. Jessica Amaya of Brooklyn Vegan took some really beautiful photos of the show. Check them out.

Friday night started with the significant fear of missing out on Beirut, but after a 10-minute downpour, the rain subsided and the sun reared its head once again. Megan and I arrived just in time for Sharon Van Etten's set who played mostly song's off of 2010's Epic but also included a few new songs on which she brought out two special guests (Aaron Dessner of The National being one of them). Beirut started up shortly thereafter and played an excellent set full crowd favorites from The Flying Club Cup and their Elephant Gun EP. They also included a few? (maybe it was just one) new songs like the recently released and beautifully performed "East Harlem". Another highlights was the encore, as Zach Condon came back to the stage armed with a ukelele to perform "The Penalty". It was an excellent end to a great set.

The finest show of the night (and possibly the whole weekend) was Surfer Blood's set at Knitting Factory. They took the stage around midnight; the guitars were loud and distorted, the vocals, soaked in reverb and the crowd was into it from minute one. Album opener (and personal favorite) "Floating Vibes" opened the set and they played almost every track from their brilliant and underrated debut Astro Coast. Surfer Blood also had time to sprinkle in a few songs off of their upcoming EP I'm Not Ready including the very impressive "Miranda".

Check back tomorrow for the review of Saturday and Sunday!

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