Friday, June 25, 2010

The Northside Fest Gift Bag Was Full Of Useless Bullshit, But That's OK

Taste the fucking rainforest

I have some scattered thoughts on the first day of the Northside Festival, even though today is the second day. Whatever, don't judge me.

When I went to pick up my badge, there was free beer. You can't ever go wrong with that. In fact, every time you pick up a ticket for a show, it should come with a beer. Thus begins my long day of drinking. While I go through the gift bag and drink my beer, someone keeps taking pictures of me. I try not to be self-conscious, but also refuse to take anything out of the bag at the moment.

I get home and look through the bag. There's a tank-top that's way too small for me promoting Splice. Even if it fit, it wouldn't crack my rotation of don't-give-a-fuck clothing, headed by my three ridiculous 90s basketball jerseys. There's some kind of gym thing, but I have no use for that if I'm going to die at thirty. Also some kind of Yerba Mate drink promising "a powerful rain forest experience" and calling itself "a flavorful tribute to the Ache Guayaki", a tribe that lives in the South American rain forest. Jesus. I eat a chocolate while talking to my roommate and head to Shea Stadium.

Shea Stadium is nice, especially the huge Met logo they have painted on one of the walls. Nothing much is going on and the promised barbecue isn't happening anytime soon. There's free beer here too though, so I help myself. There's a small deck that everyone seems to be on, I'm sitting next to two people who have a friend that's never seen a penis. Another person tells his friend he doesn't get enough ass, to which his friend goes nuclear, pointing to a girl and saying "She gets more pussy than you," and ending his tirade with "All my niggas get more pussy than you." I marvel at the fact that there isn't a cloud in the sky and choke down a salty Heineken light (free) before giving my Sharpie away to the bouncer.

I go up to Greenpoint, but there's nothing going on at the Warsaw yet. I go a little further north to a taco place, La Nortena, since I didn't get anything to eat at Shea Stadium. I ask the waitress to turn on the Met game since I'm the only one in the restaurant. "Oh, you want English TV?" Sigh. I should have paid better attention in Spanish class. Still, the tacos are good and the Met game is eventually put on.

Just in time for the end of open bar at The Trash Bar, where there's no music yet. In fact, I haven't seen any music at all, so after I finish my beer in the company of five people sitting around waiting for, something, I leave.

Finally, music. The Knitting Factory is hosting the illustrious opening night party for the festival, which means I get to catch a glimpse of lo-fi wiseass Dom. Everything is in the Wavves, No Age mold, which is cool. I'm amazed by how young looking the lead singer is. Also, one of my bosses is there. "Shouldn't you be chopping up trout?" I ask him. I stick around for a bit longer before heading back to Greenpoint.

Jesus Christ, there's still nothing is going on at the Warsaw. I lock up my bike and walk to Europa where a tiny group of people is watching Pillow Theory. Calling it sad would be meaner than I'd want to be, but the question keeps echoing around my head: who the fuck plays grunge anymore? Becoming uncomfortable, I walk back down to the Warsaw.

Finally, something going on there. The Hundred in the Hands is finishing up their set. They're a guy-girl duo, the guy plays guitars over electro beats and the girl sings. They sound a little like Blonde Redhead. I get a beer when the set ends and try to get my friend to come out for the show. He's acting like a forty-year old though, so I'm still going it alone.

Au Revoir Simone goes on shortly after 11, and I see my boss again. I make sure not to mention the chocolate. The set brings me back to younger me, three years ago to be precise. Back in 2007 was the first time I'd heard Au Revoir Simone and also the last time I'd been at the Warsaw. Back then I had a real job, with a suit and tie, but it didn't stop me from staying out until 2 AM to hang out with the Polyphonic Spree after a show there. Au Revoir Simone's music is bouncier than I remember.

Someone says, "The one on the right, she's so hot." Well, duh, all of the girls in Au Revoir Simone are pretty. I don't know how you'd test this theory, but you can't have an atmospheric, electro-pop girl trio with ugly people. It wouldn't fly. There's a guy with an Ed Hardy shirt just going nuts, whipping a shirt above his head. I wonder what brought him to the show.

In a heartbreaking moment for me, I don't get to hear the one song I really wanted to hear. These things happen. Au Revoir Simone end their show with a cover of "Boys of Summer." I identify it from the first chord, mostly because the mean Arab guy that does the music where I sell fish heads plays it all the time. When I nail the song so quickly, I tell my boss I've been selling fish heads for too long. He just laughs. He's been doing it way longer than me.

The show is over. "Just as unrehearsed as I remember them being," my boss says. "Ah, but that's authentic," I respond. He laughs and we go our separate ways. I meet up with my roommate for a drink and we find a piano sitting out in the middle of McCarren Park. Apparently it's an art installation for Northside. A guy standing there with a girl tells us that she's played the piano for fifteen years, but she won't play anything for us. We stop in at Blackbird, where I sit and drink for a little while before going to Public Assembly.

The first thing that happens when I get to Public Assembly is some girl in large heels steps on my foot as she's being carried out of the club. I realize that no matter how far gone I've been in my life, I've never been that girl. I look at the stage to see Fang Island finishing their sound check. I knew a little bit about them, but there's still a shock at seeing four guys with guitars just wailing away in unison. It's like if Andrew W.K. and the Polyphonic Spree had a baby, a sonic assault,but a happy one. There's no letting up the entire set and I wish the room was more packed so I could stage dive. In fact, I can't believe I got in so easy, because what else were you going to do with a Northside badge at 1 AM, watch Ryan Schreiber DJ? I'm almost angry the room isn't wall to wall packed, but it's impossible to stay angry during this music. I do resolve to punch my friend in the mouth for offering me, then taking back, an extra ticket he had to see Fang Island at the Knitting Factory two or three months ago.


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