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The scorching blaze of Day Four of the Northside Music Festival

CHVRCHES at McCarren Park, Northside Festival 2014 - Day 4 - Brooklyn, NY 6/15/14

Well, the fourth day of Northside Music Festival was one clear blue and sunshiny Sunday, which, by the time it had come, found me extremely beat-feeted and weary-eyed after the previous late nights of running around town and rocking late into the morning. Still, I was up and at them early as I knew I would have to finish up a cartoon that night, so I would have to catch all the music I could as early as I could.

Northside Festival 2014 - Day 4 - Brooklyn, NY 6/15/14

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Reaping the wack for Day 3 of Northside Festival

Thee Oh Sees at McCarren Park, Northside Festival 2014 - Day 3 - Brooklyn, NY 6/14/14

Day three of the Northside Music Fest started up on a gorgeous Saturday morning, just overcast enough not to be blazing hot, which was especially good since much of it would start outdoors. At Williamsburg’s green center, the southwest corner of the sprawling McCareen Park, there was a huge stage was set up for the first of two big shows, free for all badge holders and for all those lucky souls who managed to RSVP for free tickets online in the seconds it took to sell out these performances. 

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Infectious swing for Day 2 of Northside Festival

Tweens at Rough Trade NYC, Northside Festival 2014 - Day 2 - Brooklyn, NY 6/13/14 

The Friday night of the annual four day music fiesta known as the Northside Festival was one of my favorite adventures of all four days, even though it didn’t have a lot of the bigger-name bands the other days had, it described the pure adventure and love of the music that defines this jubilee for me. I would get to see some of my favorites on smaller stages if I worked it out right, but to make it through, I would have to do some hustling across town to a few different venues, and that would definitely take some serious endurance.

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The sway & bang of Day 1 of Northside Fest

Shilpa Ray at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Northside Festival 2014 - Day 1 - Brooklyn, NY 6/12/14

Hooray! It was once again time for the annual Northside Festival, an yearly eight-day summer showcase celebrating emerging “music, film, food, ideas and entrepreneurship” that takes pace in and around the hippest of all hipster-doms: Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I was just going for the middle four days of pure music, taking place at various venues all across this sprawling hood, and in similar fashion, featuring countless genres of diverse musicians and bands, but that epic journey was plenty enough to test all powers of possible endurance for even the most seasoned of rockers. 

Northside Festival 2014 - Day 1 - Brooklyn, NY 6/12/14

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Lykke Li Woos NYC With Her Sad Siren Song

Lykke Li at the Apollo Theater 5/15/14

The Sweedish songstress Lykke Li descended on NYC like a darkly seductive shroud for a pair of shows that defined why she is still such a sensation after having longingly disappeared for the last couple years. What can you say about this breathtaking singer that would even touch on her exotic appeal? True, she is breathtakingly beautiful, having spent some as a international beauty model evidences that unearthly charm, yet she has a very real look, not made up, and if anything, often appearing quite earthy and artsy. Yes, she is also mysteriously exotic, having moved all over the globe as a youngster, from Stockholm to a mountaintop in Portugal will give you that travelled look so you’d think. She has a mysterious witchy woman appeal for sure, but her music is what comes through first and foremost, as she pours her soul into each and every lyric as though her very soul depended on revealing every little shadowy corner of her being.

She started as a professional at 19 and made a name quickly for catchy rhythms and sweeping atmospheres as well as a few tracks that did catch on to an artsier pop crowd. Her first album, ‘08’s Youth Novels, and especially it’s 2011’s follow-up Wounded Rhythms became runaway hits, and it was clear she had something amazing radiating from her being, even though she actually seemed to shun the spotlight. Her music at the times was very dark and penetrating, but they did often seem to be about the trails and tribulations, the ups and downs, of a monogamous relationship, hers in particular. Still, it has been a couple solid years since she had been heard of much of her at all, so it was anyone’s guess what may have become of the goddess who would be the indie-pop queen. Apparently, there was a heart-wrenching breakup for her in there, one that influenced her to pick up and move on to LA, which is where she wrote and recorded a majority of her new opus I Never Learn, which has turned away from catchy lavish rhythms and gone into total splitsville/tears in my liquor territory. After hearing the new album, it was with great anticipation that I was able to once again to gaze upon this amazing siren of emotional seas and be wooed into the stormy rocks by her song once again.

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The Faint shake Brooklyn booty at MHoW

Omaha’s dance-thrashers The Faint returned to NYC for a highly anticipated show at Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s sweet spot of venues Music Hall of Williamsburg for the first of three NYC appearances on their first tour since they reunited to play the much less inviting Terminal 5 a couple years ago to recreate their most beloved LPs Danse Macabre, from way back in 2001, in its entirety. Now, they have an actual new album to uphold, called Doom Abuse, their first in nearly six years, and they clearly came to reclaim their rightful place in rock’s pantheon of angst-reveling, politically-driven, electro-punk kings with fellow bands like Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against The Machine.

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Eagulls roar for an early crowd at Mercury

Eagulls at Mercury Lounge, NYC 5/13/14

The UK post-punk band by way of Leeds called Eagulls roared through NYC on Tuesday evening playing an early sold out show at the Big Apple’s favorite little back room stage The Mercury Lounge and proved that they were truly not a band to be ignored. With songs about death, evil specters, decomposing flesh, heroin addicts, sexual assault, and other dark subjects, you may think them to be hard get into, but they make the shadowy underworld seem like home.

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Loop hypnotized NYC at (le) poisson rouge


Loop returned to NYC last Thursday, hypnotizing us with their sonic resonance for the first time in over 24 years, playing the intimate yet expansive underground chamber of (le) poisson rouge in the West Village of Manhattan. The band had a short yet extremely influential career between 1986 and 1991, producing only three albums, yet inspiring a whole pre-grunge alternative rock generation with a wall of vibrating bridge-less echoed formations with a powerful raw garage rock edge. As of ’91, they had broken up, but just last year they stunned many by going on a stint of UK dates, including a headline performance at ATP’s last ever festival at Camber Sands. 

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Cibo Matto spreads a smooth jam in Brooklyn


The 1990’s quintessential rapping-Asian-girl-rocker group Cibo Matto finished up their first tour in over 15 years, celebrating their new LP Hotel Valentine, and came back to their Big Apple hometown for a packed tour closer at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday night. To many back in the mid-90’s, Cibo may have seemed like a humorous put-on: a pair of Japanese girls from NYC who rapped and rocked obsessively about food (like on their whole first album Viva! La Woman)? Who wouldn’t think that was some kind of a joke? That was, until you actually heard them. Even from their first, frontwoman Yuka Honda and multi-instrumentalist Miho Hatori brilliantly blended such a tasty smorgasbord of flavors and ingredients that your mouth couldn’t help but water. Every genre from salty rap and trip hop, to zesty indie rock and pop, spicy bossa nova and jazz fusion, and even the expansively sweet deserts of ambient and theme-atrics was combined with a real smooth taste and talent on par with contemporaries like Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation. The following release showed them expanding and teaming up with the likes of Sean Lennon (who was clearly in attendance this night, as he could easily be recognized back stage wearing a huge red cowboy hat, but he sadly did not jump on stage, as he had last time they played BBowl a couple years ago), Timo Ellis (of Spacehog and Joan as Police Woman), and World-rapper Duma Love; and also making high-profile appearances with the likes of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, David Byrne, Beastie Boys, Yoko Ono, and Gorillaz, but still they ended up sadly breaking up in 2002. It was a long wait, but it appears that a pair of benefit concerts for victims of the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami they organized propelled them into the new zones they were looking for, and after some touring and collabs, they have marked their return with a stunning new album, aptly released on this past Valentine’s Day, and playing this very show (also very fittingly) on International Women’s Day. 

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Drenge and Heliotropes melt faces at Glasslands


The hard rockin’ British brother duo of Drenge came to NYC for the first time last week, making their live debut at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge on Friday, but appearing the next night, on a chilly Saturday, playing right across the East River at the Glasslands Lounge in Brooklyn. This early show for the venue proved to be a full-on face-melting experience and made clear why these two have made so much noise across the pond in the past couple years.

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