Since launching in 2009, the Northside Festival has slowly become Brooklyn’s answer to South by Southwest.
While it remains much smaller than its Texas counterpart, Northside also covers music, art, film and technology. This year, it will play host to 400 bands at more than 50 venues in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. All shows are open to Northside badge holders, and most sell individual tickets as well.
Here are some acts to keep an eye out for:
The War on Drugs
The War on Drugs combines the indie rock of Sonic Youth with the heartland sounds of Tom Petty to great effect. The group’s latest album, “Lost in the Dream,” took more than a year to make as singer Adam Granduciel coped with anxiety and the end of a long-term relationship. (Friday, 50 Kent)
This Scottish synth-pop band became one of last year’s breakthrough acts thanks to the singles “Recover” and “The Mother We Share.” Its widescreen, emotional music is often compared to Passion Pit and Depeche Mode and seems tailored made for a night outdoors. (Sunday, McCarren Park)
Sharon Van Etten
The Brooklyn singer-songwriter just released her fourth album, “Are We There,” to rapturous reviews. Her piano-driven songs are full of beautiful harmonies and introspective lyrics about her attempt to balance relationships and career. (Tomorrow, Music Hall of Williamsburg; Friday & Saturday, Bowery Ballroom)
Not to be confused with the Glenn Frey/Don Henley unit, these Eagulls are a British post-punk band that combines abrasive noise with catchy, hook-filled choruses. (Thursday, Warsaw)
Over a more than 20 year career, Souleyman has had his name on hundreds of albums, most of which were recorded while he performed at weddings. His music combines traditional Middle Eastern sounds and electronic dance music. Blur’s Damon Albarn has said he will produce Souleyman’s next album. (Friday, Glasslands)
An Australian singer-songwriter, Barnett is known for her rambling stories and sly sense of humor. Take this couplet from her song “Avant Gardner”: “The paramedic thinks I’m clever cos I play guitar/I think she’s clever cos she stops people dying.” (Saturday, Music Hall of Williamsburg)
A conversation with Scott Stedman, co-founder of the Northside Festival
Why did you start the Northside Festival?
We were sitting around asking why everyone goes to Austin when we have a similar event here with CMJ. … Our consensus was that is not focused on changing the public space around the festival. We thought if you create a density of experience in a walkable area, you’d have an exciting event.
Do you hope to one day be as big as SXSW?
I would hope the attendees have the same kind of incredible experience meeting people and doing deals that change their careers or cultural trajectories.
What are you most looking forward to?
Beirut and The War on Drugs happen to be two of my favorite bands. On the innovation side, I’m hoping to see Kevin Hartley from Keurig Green Mountain and Dan Doctoroff, who has a public policy perspective and runs a huge company in Bloomberg.
Any plans to have Lady Gaga or Justin Timberlake to show up?
We would love to have Lady Gaga at Glasslands.
If you go: For full ticket and schedule information, go to northsidefestival.com.