Northside Fest’s Friday Highlights: Of Montreal, Ice Choir, and Zambri

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After a successful few days, the dust is settling on the music run of Northside Festival 2012. Once again, it was often hard to decide what show to see when, but it was also hard to make a bad choice. Here are some highlights from Friday:

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After a second full day of shows, Zambri, the moniker of NYC-based sisters Jessica and Christi Jo Zambri, rocked the late set at Spike Hill. These ladies have contributed to many a Hooray for Earth song, as well as often performing with them, but Zambri has a solid band of their own, based around the two of them. It’s not even about the music as much as it is about how they’re using sounds to communicate emotions as art, as well as their extremely palpable sister connection between the two of them. They were joined by another synth player and live drummer, but they seemed to revolve around each other, trading each other’s synths and samples in the center of the stage, and sharing this microphone trifecta they had bundled with what looked like foil, and attached to a chain that Christi Jo wore as a necklace. Basically, Zambri is so fashionable they wear reverb as bling.

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Ice Choir, who was mentioned in our Northside preview shared the bill with Zambri, and sounded just as smooth live as they do recorded. Frontman Kurt Feldman has got to have one of the smoothest voices on the scene right now, if not the smoothest. Watching him sing live, this time I had no inclination to compare him to George Michael, and instead just appreciate the way Ice Choir managed to seamlessly meld the upbeat pop sensibilities of ’80s new wave with the dreamily brooding inclinations of ’90s shoegaze. This aspect is what warrants another project outside of The Depreciation Guild and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and creates another layer of musical variation for Feldman to inject his brand of smooth into.

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I also need to mention the band that I started Friday off with in McCarren Park – of Montreal. I can’t help but throw them in because the rotating spectacle of flamboyant vaudeville pageantry alone was enough to make me completely perplexed and intrigued by what was happening, as well as laugh out loud. This show wins the award for most costume changes, as there was a theatrical bit for almost every song; everything from lucha libre wrestlers, to a minotaur stabbing pigs, to abstract burlesque. All of this, on top of Kevin Barnes’ own gradually decreasing wardrobe and dance moves, as well as guitarist Bryan Poole looking like a psychedelic pimp and crowd surfing like a boss, was such an awesome way to start off the festival experience.

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