Northside Festival: Day 2

Double Rainbow at McCarren Park. (photo by Daniel)

Day 2 of Northside Festival dawned pretty late, as a full day of traveling and a full night of shows had already worn me out. But it was time for Day 2 of Northside and there was a slate of shows that consisted of all bands I’d never seen before, so I knew I was in for something new and awesome.

After spending the day wandering around Brooklyn with Marc, we met up with Lowden, Anna and Allison and headed over to McCarren Park for one of the “big” shows of the weekend: Beirut, Sharon Van Etten and Yellow Ostrich. Even if these bands weren’t my style, I had heard glowing things about all of them, leading me to think it was going to be an epic night of music.

We weren’t exactly early to McCarren Park, but we were able to snag a spot pretty close to the stage where we stood and watched a thunderstorm travel across the East River from Manhattan and right into Williamsburg. We huddled under a mega-umbrella made from four umbrellas and rode out the storm. As the skies cleared, a majestic double rainbow manifested itself and Yellow Ostrich took the stage only a few minutes after their scheduled 6:30 p.m. start time.

Yellow Ostrich played a version of indie-folk, using loops to create a sonic canvas of more than a three-piece. Songs like “WHALE” and “Mary” were extremely sharp and the band was into it. They earned a new fan in me and showed the versatility of loops and the like.

Sharon Van Etten was up next and she is someone that Lowden and Marc greatly enjoy, so I was prepared for something pretty cool. Van Etten did not disappoint with her brand of indie-folk. Her voice was clear and crisp and it went with the whole vibe of the evening. “Don’t Do It” was a highlight for me and the new songs that she played with Aaron Dessner from The National were pretty awesome as well.

The only downside to her set was a couple behind me who seemed to think they were seeing The National instead of Sharon Van Etten. From the moment Dessner stepped on stage before the set to set up his equipment, these two 14-year-olds were chattering about how awesome Bryce Dessner was and how they loved The National and they didn’t shut up for Van Etten’s entire set. And then they were embarrassed when it was actually Aaron Dessner instead of Bryce. Well, there’s always those people at shows.

Beirut was up next, and please excuse me for not knowing any Beirut songs except for “Postcards From Italy” and that one where he hasn’t seen that girl in a long time and he wants to see her smile. Yeah, that one. But I was taken aback by how voracious Beirut fans are. They are legitimate fans. It really helps that Beirut is a band that it’s easy to be a fan of, as Zach Condon caters to the crowd and is amiable on stage. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the music was so tight. That might have been the best part of it all. It was the third band of a night that I became a fan of, and the night wasn’t even close to being over.

We peaced from McCarren Park to head down to 285 Kent and check out the Impose+WEIRD MAGIC Ball (pictures via Weird Magic here). We stopped by mostly to see La Big Vic, as Marc writes for vocalist and violinist Emilie Friedlander’s Visitation Rites. After listening to a DJ for an hour, we were treated to a smoke machine-filled psych-out, courtesy of La Big Vic. The synths were soaring and the violin, while a little low in the mix, was an asset to the atmosphere. Everything clicked for me when Friedlander’s vocals cut through the mix on “Mr. Broken Bird.” From there I was smitten with this band.

We didn’t stick around for the rest of the ball, but headed back to rest up for Day 3, which could easily be considered the craziest day of Northside.

Read about Day 1 here.

–Daniel

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