Northside Festival Highlights – Thursday Night

Early in the day, musicians littered Bedford Ave., playing on corners as camera crews captured the magic of Northside Festival. Sure, everyone is down in Manchester for Bonnaroo and having a blast, but thanks to these bands, we are, too.


Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker, Northside FestivalAnyone who plans to catch Jack White on tour this summer cannot miss his opening act, Benjamin Booker. ATO’s quickly rising act kicked off the party at House of Vans with plenty of big-name industry players in the crowd taking notes. Meanwhile outside, about a hundred unlucky fans could not get in, with capacity at its limit. Good thing Booker can rock because the music leaked right through the warehouse and onto the streets. What else do you expect to happen when you combine hardcore and blues? Well, you get to tour with Jack White, and you get to sling your guitar off your back and onto the floor at the end of your set like a boss. Tomorrow Booker and his band will light up the night once more at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Keep an eye on the drummer—dude’s got skill.


Mac DeMarco

Looking like the poster boy for Burger Records in a dingy, ’90s Simpsons T, Mac DeMarco delivered that psychedelic stoner-rock that all the Brooklyn hipsters go crazy for. Not really my thing. But I had a prime spot in the crowd, and Charles Bradley was on next.


Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires

Daptone’s “Screaming Eagle of Soul” could not have been happier to be in his hometown, pouring out his heart in between songs and thanking the several hundred for coming out to his show. There is something so incredibly uplifting about this performer that makes you warm and tingly all over, like you just slung back a whiskey shot and beer combo. The depth Bradley reaches is remarkable; his music touches the soul and stops you in your tracks. The line for the free beer outside was not as long as when the other two performers took the stage. That’s because Bradley is a goddamn magnet—and when he reaches those high James Brown notes, the last place you want to be is far off on some line for beer.

Charles BradleyWith a strapping brass section, the Extraordinaires elevated the night, making it obvious why this group was invited to played at this year’s Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Then there’s that rhythm section that provides backup vocals with the right amount of sweetness, which would have Martha and the Vandellas grinning from ear to ear. Chatting to people nearby in the crowd, I wasn’t surprised when they admitted this was their fifth or sixth time seeing Charles Bradley perform. I’m in that same boat.


Gringo Star

Afterwards, everyone scurried down to the Warsaw to try and catch the last bit of the Titus Andronicus/Eagulls show, but if you were smart, you went to Shea Stadium for Gringo Star. Back in Atlanta, they are popular among fans and musicians alike, playing killer rock ‘n’ roll, with singer Pete Furgiuele offering his recording expertise to several local bands. They play music that makes you want to paint the town red and call in sick for work the next day. If you’re into that, they play again tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge. If you’re not, have fun watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother.

—Melissa Caruso

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