Over the last three days, we have recapped each day of Northside Music. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and today we cover the fourth and final day of this year’s festival. The fourth day was headlined by the legendary Brian Wilson on the main stage, with openers Rostam, formerly of Vampire Weekend, and Madrid’s Hinds. Much like the other days, there were tons of great artists playing various venues around Williamsburg.
Yowler, Malky at the Lyft Stage at Williamsburg Walks
The first artist I checked out on Sunday was the amazing Yowler. Yowler is the solo project of Maryn Jones of All Dogs and Saintseneca. Her music is beautiful, intimate and emotional. It was a bit strange hearing these songs that sound so personal amplified out onto the corner of Bedford and North 5th St. in Williamsburg. It was a great way to start the day, and having seen Yowler a few times, she always impresses.
The next band on the Lyft Stage was Malky from Germany. It was their second show at the festival, having played at the Knitting Factory the night before. They seemed enthused to be part of the festival and in New York, and it came through when they played. Their sound is a great blend of styles, and it was a real treat on a Sunday afternoon.
After this set, I roamed down Bedford, which was full of things to do. They closed off the street for Northside, and vendors and artists took over the street. At one point I was walking past Sweet Chick, a restaurant that specializes in chicken and waffles, and there was a live DJ performing. Next thing I knew, I heard that DJ exclaim “hang around for Joey Bada$$”. I thought to myself “no way” and later I found out it actually happened. That just speaks to the spontaneity of this wonderful festival.
Hinds, Rostam, Brian Wilson at McCarren Park
The pure energy of Madrid’s Hinds kicked this show off right. The band was excited to be opening for Brian Wilson, and excited to be in New York, and that feeling was infectious. They stormed through their set with big smiles on their faces, with endearing banter with the crowd and between themselves. Their mix of pop and punk influence got everyone moving early.
Next up was Rostam, formerly of Vampire Weekend. It was Rostam’s first time performing these songs, and early on, it showed. But as the set went on, Rostam’s confidence grew, and he really began to shine. The music was tight, backed by a string quartet who sounded so great even Rostam himself stepped back to listen to and admire at one point. He also brought a few guests on stage, two dancers, Wes Miles from Ra Ra Riot, Hamilton Leithauser from The Walkmen, and Angel Deradoorian from Deradoorian and formerly from the Dirty Projectors.
The final artist to take the stage at McCarren park for Northside 2016 was the legendary Brian Wilson. Wilson brought his Pet Sounds 50th anniversary tour to Northside, and even the organizers couldn’t believe that this was about to happen. It was not just the fact Brian Wilson was headlining their festival, it was a testament to their hard work over the last eight years, turning Northside into one of the premier festivals on the East Coast, and one that truly rivals CMJ and SXSW.
After Wilson took his seat behind his piano, the atmosphere turned into a total party. Wilson and his band that had as many as 13 people on stage at any given moment started off with a selection of Beach Boys best hits. The crowd warmed up with “California Girls” and “I Get Around”. Al Jardine welcomed his son to the stage to sing, and he sounded amazing. Wilson brought out another legend, Blondie Chaplin to play on “Wild Honey” and “Sail On Sailor”, where Chaplin almost stole the show. After that, however, Wilson and his crew launched into a cover-to-cover performance of Pet Sounds.
The audience danced and sang along right from the first notes of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. As the band rolled through the record, the songs sounded great. Even if Wilson and Jardine couldn’t handle certain songs, the band behind them sure could. It was great hearing Wilson give a little background on each track, saying things like “I wrote this song in my car when I was 19” and “Al came to me and said ‘you gotta check out this song by the Kingston Trio”. And Brooklyn loved that song as well, “Sloop John B” may have been the biggest singalong of the show. That is, until after a beautiful performance of “God Only Knows”, Wilson guided the audience on singing along to “Row Row Row Your Boat”. Only Brian Wilson could get away with following up the most beautiful song ever written with a nursery rhyme.
During the end of “Caroline, No” Wilson asked if anyone had any “Good Vibrations”. Wasting no time, they followed up the performance of Pet Sounds with another set of great hits to close the night. This was a great set to close Northside Festival. And even though Wilson and Jardine may not be able to hit some notes they used to, their band is absolutely fantastic, and such a pleasure to listen to and watch perform. It’s also great to be in the presence of the genius who wrote these songs. These are Wilson’s songs and his presence is enough to make a night like this truly special.
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