The Playbook


Here's What Went Down at Northside Festival, Brooklyn's Own SXSW



Brooklyn has long welcomed makers and doers, but one week every summer, we roll out the red carpet. Since 2009, Brooklyn's annual Northside Festival has brought creatives the world over to the neighborhood for a days-long celebration of everything BKNY. 

 

 

Established to celebrate the best in emerging "music, film, food, ideas and entrepreneurship," Northside is South by Southwest set to Brooklyn’s own compass. Food trucks replace convention center cafeterias. Outdoor concerts are curated for discovery, not name recognition. Events including panels and concerts are spread across dozens of venues throughout Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick.

 

 

Best of all: proceeds from Northside benefit the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, a non-profit fighting for green park space in the communities that make Northside possible.

 

While the world at large may just see stages in Brooklyn, in reality, Northside is Brooklyn’s stage. From June 7-11, over 100,000 attendees – including a few members of our team – watched our city at her best. Here’s what went down at the 9th Annual Northside Fest:

 

 

Dirty Projectors, Kamasi Washington, and Jay Som (Thurs, 6/8)

 

 

On Thursday night, McCarren Park lit up with the first of two “Northside Presents” headlining concerts. For many, these bigger concerts are their introduction to the world of Northside, food trucks included. Thursday’s lineup featured indie project Jay Som, jazz artist Kamasi Washington, and Brooklyn’s own Dirty Projectors, playing their first public show since 2013.

 

 

With the sun setting on a beautiful June night, Kamasi Washington and his band “The Next Step” kept the crowd moving. After the success of their American Music Prize-winning album The Epic, Washington and his band have nothing to prove yet pour emotion into live sets like their next show depends on it. Washington, a saxophone prodigy and the band’s frontman, leads by example, one big, swinging riff at a time.

 

 

The Next Step stepping off, homecoming officially began. Dirty Projectors took the stage to rousing applause before starting with one simple line: “It’s great to be back.” Then, the lights jumped and the show began. 

 

 

Singer Dave Longstreth swung between rousing hooks (“Little Bubble”) and the experimental rock tones Dirty Projectors is famous for (“I See You”), both aloof on stage and fed by the energy of his hometown crowd.

 

 

The set ended in a special encore performance of single “Cool Your Heart,” the grand finale to a hometown reunion four years in the making. As the lights dimmed, a warm night and the pure excitement of Northside’s first big concert filled the crowd with talk and laughter. Cooled hearts would have to wait.

 

Bedford Block Party (Sat, 6/10)

 

 

Remember that whole “benefits green space” bit? So did Bedford Ave. On Saturday and Sunday, the streets of downtown Williamsburg were transformed into a lush lawn as part of the annual “Williamsburg Walks” event series.

 

 

Photo by GREATS Webmaster Sam Anacker 

 

 

Highlights included tennis in the streets, a Strangers Project pop-up, and the surreal experience of playing barefoot frisbee in front of the L station. If only Bedford could stay this way. 

 

 

Miguel, BJ Tha Chicago Kid, and Saro (Sat, 6/10)

 

Photo by GREATS Webmaster Sam Anacker 

 

 

With all of Brooklyn officially on “weekend,” Saturday’s “Northside Presents” show had all the excitement of the first concert with the off-hours attendance to make it spectacular. LA-based indie pop artist Saro opened the show, before passing the mic to fame-bound R&B singer BJ the Chicago Kid. BJ, a frequent collaborator with everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Freddie Gibbs, has had an explosive year so far, and if Saturday’s set is any indication, the best is yet to come.

 

Photo by GREATS Webmaster Sam Anacker 

 

 

Finally, R&B superstar Miguel closed out the night with a silky-smooth bang. Arguably the biggest name at the festival this year, Miguel drew both a big crowd and the right reactions from it. Hits like “Adorn” and “Sure Thing” echoed across McCarren Park, an internationally-renowned exclamation point to cap off festival Saturday.