After two days at Northside Festival, the fatigue was starting to set in, but with the opportunity to see the most bands on Saturday, it was pedal to the metal. The centerpiece of the day was the afternoon show at McCarren Park that featured Guided By Voices, Wavves, Surfer Blood and The Babies, four bands I absolutely love.
We approached McCarren Park just before 4 p.m. and could hear The Babies just start to launch into the beginning of their set with “Run Me Over” and “Sunset.” I’m not ashamed to say that I ran into the park and we got nice and close to check out the band that has my second favorite album of the year. The first time I saw The Babies was August 1, 2009, and they have developed into such an awesome entity in that time span. Cassie Ramone and Kevin Morby have such an undeniably awesome rapport on stage. Morby seems to be channeling Bob Dylan and Ramone just has the best air of confidence. The songs from the self-titled sounded so great live, plus the new ones on the way will not disappoint.
Surfer Blood took over next and they gave us the usual Surfer Blood show. It was really tight and the new tracks make it sound like the group has really been working hard. The songs from 2010’s Astro Coast are so much fun live and have held up over time, as many people have been listening to that record since 2009. There’s still excitement each time “Swim” or “Catholic Pagans” begins, something that is awesome for today’s scene.
I have a love/hate relationship with Nathan Williams of Wavves, going through phases where I love his fuzzed-out surf punk before going through phases where I think he’s the most annoying thing on the planet. When I last saw Wavves in January at 9:30 Club, I didn’t leave that satisfied. But with Northside, the third time was the charm for Wavves. Using a mix of old songs from Wavves and Wavvves plus newer cuts from King of the Beach, Williams put on a great show. He was still his bratty self, but is songs were so clear and so tight that it was impossible to hate on him. While the crowd wasn’t that good (I saw the girl next to me text someone and say “This band is terrible”), Williams, Stephen Pope and Jacob Cooper, who is developing into a formidable drummer, put together a memorable set. Oh yeah, I still think the new song “Bug” sounds like blink-182 and I don’t really like it.
The legendary Guided By Voices closed out the evening at McCarren Park with a drunken set that got much better as it continued on. Bob Pollard was shaky to start, but as the beer kept flowing and the cuts got deeper. The highlight of the hour we saw (we had to eat at some point during the day) was “Tractor Rape Chain.” I never thought I’d be chanting those three words in that particular order with hundreds of people ever in my life. But I did. And it was awesome. I do regret leaving after an hour, but Guided By Voices is hitting Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh in September, so I’ll have another chance there.
After some food and late-night Williamsburg wanderings we ended up at Music Hall of Williamsburg for Allo Darlin’ and Twin Sister. Allo Darlin’ played an infectious brand of ukulele-based pop that we all thoroughly enjoyed, especially Marc. It was another new band for me on the weekend, and another new band that impressed me.
Twin Sister, having just released “Bad Street” less than a week before this show, put down what Marc called the most impressive show of the festival, playing a wide assortment of old and new songs. Highlights “Milk & Honey” and “All Around And Away We Go” were solid as usual, and then “Bad Street” got the crowd moving, although not as much as I thought it would. The coolest part of the set was when Estella and guitarist Eric Cardona performed two acoustic songs by themselves. I’ve never heard a Brooklyn crowd so quiet in my life as it was during those songs. Those songs are what’s making me so stoked for In Heaven, due out in August.
After Twin Sister, we weren’t done yet. We headed over to the Knitting Factory after peeking in at The Babies through the windows of Public Assembly. We caught the Strange Boys‘ set, a pleasant and rocking surprise. I know nothing about the Strange Boys and was dead tired by the time this show rolled around, but it was the perfect way to cap a ridiculous day of music.
Read about Day 1, Day 2 and Day 4 will come tomorrow.