More Than Just a Black Flag Reunion

The Brooklyn Northside Festival, now in its fifth and biggest year, begins Thursday.
Lodro © Tod Seelie/Red Bull Media House
By Hardeep Phull

Walk down almost any street in Greenpoint or Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and chances are you’ll come across either street art being made, a film being shot or music pouring out of the area’s many venues. But over the next four days, these sights and sounds will be multiplied many times over as the area plays host to the latest Northside Festival.

Creativity in All Forms

The event is now in its fifth year and was started by brothers Daniel and Scott Stedman, known more prominently as publishers of The L and Brooklyn magazines.

“Our mission has always been to celebrate the creative communities of Brooklyn,” explains Scott. “The word “Brooklyn” has taken on a meaning that’s relevant beyond the geography. It’s become the national adjective for what’s next.”

It’s that attitude which has seen Northside give a platform to some of the best new talent from the local area -- and beyond. Aside from giving a leg-up to the likes of Sharon van Etten and Beirut, Northside has also been an important stepping stone for Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile and also played host to the first North American show by Australian psychedelic outfit the Tame Impala.

As well as covering the more traditional areas of creativity, the Stedmans have now also expanded Northside’s horizons to include a range of entrepreneurs, who take part in presentations and panel discussions.

“When we started Northside, we wanted to showcase music, film and art,” adds Scott. “But last year, we felt that the entrepreneur had become the newest entrant into that community so we created NExT which is Northside Entrepreneurship and Technology as a component of the festival.”

Stay for the Music

But the main draw remains the music and this year’s lineup is easily the strongest to date.

Free shows from the Walkmen and Solange dominate the schedule, while the reunion of hardcore pioneers Black Flag is one of the hottest tickets of the festival.

Another 300 or so up-and-coming acts are also involved, including emcee-of-the-moment Chance the Rapper and hotly tipped Brooklyn droners LODRO (pictured above). They may be one of the newer names, but as frontwoman Lesley Hann explains, they’re not feeling too phased.

“LODRO just came to exist this past winter so the project is young," she says. "We have all been in other bands and played a ton of shows all over the world and been in a lot of weird situations so it would be hard to make us nervous. We're too busy to be nervous.”

Seems like the same could be said about many in Brooklyn’s creative community and Northside will be the perfect place to enjoy the fruits of everybody’s labor.

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