Thousands flock to Northside Festival for music, art and film
by Chelsea Edgar
Jun 18, 2014 | 4151 views | 0 0 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(Photos by Chelsea Edgar)
(Photos by Chelsea Edgar)
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The golden hour had just begun as CHVRCHES took the stage before a sea of straw fedoras in McCarren Park on Sunday. The moment was Instagram come to life: Everyone looked very tan and impossibly cool, wreathed in a haze of cigarette smoke and special effect fog. If Wayfarers doubled as solar panels, this crowd could have generated enough energy to power half of Brooklyn. Petite lead singer Lauren Mayberry, decked out in oversized frames, could have powered the other half all by herself.

CHVRCHES was one of more than 400 bands to perform at the sixth annual Northside Festival, a smorgasbord of music, film and innovation that drew more than 100,000 people between June 12 and 19. For Scott Stedman, founder of Northside Media Group and festival director, it was an amazing eight days.

"It's been a totally magical year for Northside," he said. "The trade show and innovation conference were filled with some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, and there has been music just ringing through the streets. Brooklyn is the creative capital of the world, and it’s been so inspiring to see such an explosion of art, ideas, and music."

In addition to CHVRCHES, the festival featured performances by Beirut, The War on Drugs, Sharon Van Etten and Animal Collective, among other big names in the indie music scene.

With only one album released so far, CHVRCHES's set list was short, but it delivered on all the promises of an outdoor summer concert: Big sound, lush vocals and high-energy performances of some of the best-known singles from The Bones of What You Believe.

The show began with the bracing, exuberant "We Sink," followed by the head-banging "Lies" and the towering melody of "Recover." But the high point of the set was "Tether," a song that builds and builds and then bursts into a shimmering synth-pop frenzy that makes you want to spin in circles until you collapse. Depending on the context, "Tether" can feel either meditative and intimate or huge and symphonic; with 6,000 people singing along in the glow of the late afternoon sun, it felt like all of those things at once.

Of course, no outdoor show would be complete without a little harmless Frisbee-tossing. At one point, an audience member threw one on stage featuring Mayberry's likeness. Mayberry picked it up and considered it carefully.

"You know, this would actually be a great disguise," she said in her lilting brogue. "No one would go around wearing a mask of their own face."

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