By Lisa Autz
The DJs behind French house duo Kilgande flank a saxophonist at Glasslands in Brooklyn during this year’s Northside Festival from this past weekend. Photo by Lisa Autz.
An indie conquest of music took over Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn, NY thanks to the Northside Festival this past weekend. The sixth annual music celebration also hosts film and technology showcasing from since this past Thursday through June 19.
The main attraction is in the feast of 350 fan favorites and rising musical talents that call for discovery in the 50 venues across the area. Four days were crammed with must-see, creative talents that suit small, intimate spaces along with larger establishments for a small fee.
Nite Jewel, for example, is a one-woman show featuring a chorus of angelic hymns over patterns of electronic ‘80s synth-pop. A kaleidoscope of images, eyes, and lips played in the backdrop, adding sensuality to the layered sound.
Each piece was prefaced by a discussion with the crowd. “Do you guys like slow songs,” asks Ramona Gonzalez, the petite, brunette in an inviting tone. The crowd “woos” in reciprocation.
“Well this song is about that moment when you’re talking with someone, but you are really just waiting to get down,” says Gonzalez, matter-of-factly. “It’s called, ‘Are We Talking Too Long?’”
The harmonically simple and synth, slow tempo had the small audience at The Cameo Gallery couple off –driving their bodies closer together in a rhythmic grove. The show took place tucked away behind the bar in a small room with a stage and just enough leg room to bust out crazed ‘80s dance moves when the tempo picked up.
Glasslands, another intimate spot hosting the series, was packed to the brim with transplanted Europeans eager to listen to the Euro-famed, French house duo called Klingande.
The music team specializes in melodic house music creating a funky DJ mix of Swedish house beats along with a real saxophone blaring at the beat-drops. The smoky room was like a dance club, while the sax added emotions and depth to the electronic pulse.
The group didn’t draw much of a local stir but that might be because they only got started a few years ago. Since then, Klingande has taken over the European club scene.
“They are very famous in so many places in Europe,” says Carolyn Weverburgh, a recent traveler to Belgium. “They play their music at all the clubs, but here not many people have heard of them.”
The saxophonist walked out on the stage looking a bit like a noticeable tourist in a crisp, navy blue Yankees cap. Arching his back, he gave a strong blow to the ceiling as branches of arms all stretched for a piece of sultry jazz to take home.
Then Saturday’s sunshine brought on a new slew of summer spirit to the festival. Bedford Ave had police barricades blocking cars and roll-out lawns sprawled across the pavement for patrons to lay on.
Beirut’s jazzy Balkan folk sound heightened the carefree, summer atmosphere. 50 Kent hosted the show outside where crowds snuggled in the cool waterfront breeze as they sang along to “Those were our times, those were our times.”
The multi-talented band impressively mixed a wide range of traditional cultural influences into relevancy again. Each new song brought on an instrument tied to cultural significance, such as the French accordion, a Spanish mariachi, and even a ukulele all taking part in a fusion of indie-pop.
Some of the other foreign musicians just revved up American styles like the Aussie-native, Courtney Barnett and her garage-grunge chants at apathy.
She gave a healthy dose of kick-ass to the audience at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Shaking her mane of hair, she sings about deadly 9 to 5’s in a slacker rock tone while jumping up and down and ramming her body into the bass player playfully.
She also kept the crowd on their toes with random banter. “I feel like we are on a first date where no one has spoken to each other yet,” says Barnett in a deadpan tone. “We just got together in passion… or maybe it was for the food.”
The audience roars in collective enthusiasm and is clearly infatuated with her overt coolness.
“She is arguably one of the coolest people on the planet, I am convinced,” says Pablo Canables, a San Francisco native. “She was my must-see show for the festival.”
Brooklyn’s local spin on the worldwide music festival trend showcased a surprising variety of international noise. Each delivery added a unique experience in a variety of ways including the venues, unlike other festivals with a stationed arena. All together, listeners can choose from an array of atmospheric and musical combinations to discover a more creative concert experience.
For more photos in higher definition, check out the BTR Flickr account.