Celebrating its 9th year, Northside Festival brought innovation and music to the city that has been the epicenter of music culture for years, Brooklyn. The festival started with focus on Williamsburg and Greenpoint, two extremely popular neighborhoods. If you live in New York you know that this wasn’t always the case. Pre-gentrification, there were no luxury hotels and trendy restaurants or boutiques.
As the neighborhoods changed, so did Northside, growing and expanding to Bushwick which has become the new hot spot of Brooklyn. With growth comes money, and inevitably corporate sponsors. That is a whole discussion all together, but it’s also what keeps these events going year after year. If it does right by the artists and community, I personally don’t think it’s a bad thing. Like it or not, it is a reflection of the current culture of north Brooklyn.
While most festivals focus on big name artists for the draw, Northside keeps it real, having smaller venues which drive the music culture hold a crucial role in the event. Although the festival showcased many emerging artists from all over, out of the 300 plus bands that participated this year a good chunk of them call Brooklyn their home.
Being cool is all about knowing something before everyone else, and one of Northside’s goals is to be a platform for discovery. Yaeji is one such emerging artist who only recently played her first show in L.A. where she created even a bigger buzz by premiering a remix of Drake’s “Passionfruit.”
Girls have been kicking ass in the music scene lately and one of my best discoveries at Northside this year was Brooklyn’s own, Baby Shakes. Brooklyn Bazaar has quickly become the new cool hangout and is one of the venues that currently carry the pulse of the underground scene.
You already know about this Brooklyn native, Adrian Daniel. He’s one of the reason R&B is exciting again, pushing the genre into new territory. We followed Adrian for a day at SXSW and you can read all about it here. Just listen to his new track “Havoc”, the first release off of his forthcoming album.
They’re not from Brooklyn, but Downtown Boys are proof that Northside pays attention to bands making noise. Politics and punk music often go hand in hand, but the boys and girls of Downtown Boys throw some saxophone into the mix. Sub Pop will be releasing their next record Cost Of Living on August 11th.
A major part of any festival is the community that surrounds it and Northside closed down several blocks of Bedford Avenue for a Block Party which of course was open to the public. No block party is complete without live music, and Northside erected a stage showcasing a lineup of emerging artists. As I walked back and forth, it was clear that one partied harder than Sweet Chick, with DJs and live performances along with their amazing food.
Closing out Northside was a free show (with RSVP) at the festival’s “main stage” if you will at McCarren Park. Thursday headlined the day, stopping by on the last leg of their 20th anniversary tour.
Northside evolved with Brooklyn, but it never lost sight of what it was meant to be. It’s not for the followers but for the innovators who are not afraid to say that something is cool even if no one else has yet.
[+] NORTHSIDE FESTIVAL
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