This past weekend we got a chance to take a gander at what Williamsburg and Greenpoint had to offer in their several venues that participated in the Northside Festival. Some were old favorites, and others may soon become favorites for many of you. While all of the venues were in reasonable walking distance of each other, having a car helped to quickly dart from spot to spot to catch as many bands as possible. While we loved seeing bands like Violens, Twin Sister, Crystal Stilts, Olivia Tremor Control and several others, here are our top five favorites that we had yet to see live beforehand.
5. Ultramagnetic MCs
Hip-hop veterans Ultramagnetic MCs have made sporadic appearances since they drifted from regular album-making in the late ’90s so it was especially exciting to see the Bronx group in full force for Northside’s closing ceremonies at Music Hall of Williamsburg where they played to an enthusiastic audience of rap fanatics. Kool Keith previously played a solo show on Thursday but to see him rapping alongside Ced Gee and TR Love once again was especially great.
4. Mas Ysa
One of the most elusive acts to play at Northside was Thomas Arsenault, who now goes by the name of Mas Ysa. Having spent years writing and producing music under various monikers (like Ablehearts featured above), his latest project has only played in public four times thus far. He had said that performing in the open area of McCarren Park was a bit unusual for him, his previous shows being more confined to small venues, but it actually suited the set’s world beat flourishes quite nicely. Arsenault performed barefoot on stage with a setup of various knobs, switches, and keyboards laid out in front of him as he hopped around crooning vocal parts. On a clear Saturday afternoon, it was a refreshing switchup to the mostly guitar oriented bands that played throughout the festival.
3. Caged Animals
One of the mid-evening acts at Stereogum’s showcase at Cameo Gallery was Caged Animals. Rather than starting with a bang, their set gradually built up, beginning modest and mellow before climaxing with “Teflon Heart,” a stellar popper that bounces like a tennis ball whacked back and forth in a continuous volley. We posted the studio version here because it’s the clearest sounding on YouTube, but do yourself a favor and catch the band live to experience the song in its element.
2. Will Sheridan
Kid Sister may have been the headliner at Sugarland, Williamsburg’s neighborhood gay club, but the night belonged to college basketball player turned rapper Will Sheridan. The packed out club danced and jumped around like crazy for the magnetic performer as he rocked the stage with two backup dancers. The show ened in full-on party fashion with the audience ambushing the stage during the closing number.
1. Field Mouse
From the second Field Mouse kicked into their first song at Spike Hill Saturday afternoon (their first of two performances; they later played again at Brooklyn Bowl) there was an immediate electricity that filled the air. All four members fit together like a watch — frontwoman/guitarist Rachel Browne was a like a hook delivery service to which guitarist Andrew Futral complemented perfectly with a wash of heavy tremolo. Drummer Geoff Lewit played like a perfectly automated machine whose beats ricocheted off Danielle DePalma’s nimble basslines. They played roughly eight songs in their set and they were all rock solid dream pop rockers.