Northside Festival Weekend Highlights


The first band of the weekend I caught was Caged Animals at Cameo. This is the project of singer/guitarist Vincent Cacchione, along with his sister Talya on bass, Patrick Curry on drums, and Magali Francoise on synth and awkward dance moves. Together they make fun psych surf pop rock about young love and the New Jersey Turnpike.


Guards was up next, led by Richie James Follin of Cults. They appeared to have a band dress code of black and white, which made them look a little like caterers who just got off work and came together to jam. Jam they did – in fact, they were at their best when they stomped on the overdrive pedal, got heavy, and flung their long hairs. That’s what having long hair is for, right?



I couldn’t pass up staying for Twin Sister, and the first thing I noticed was that they probably had the most wires and cables of any band at the fest, but that makes sense for their brand of dreamy experimental pop. They began with guitarist Eric Cardona and bassist Gabe D’Amico starting in crouched positions on stage, as if psyching themselves up and building an energy to feed off of. These guys and their live experimentation and multi-instrumentalist skills were the best part about their show. Bassist switched back to guitar for a bit, but playing the guitar on the floor slide guitar style, with an empty beer bottle he had just chugged. Vocalist Andrea Estella came on stage like a glittery elfin fairy, which was somehow cute and slightly creepy at the same time. She danced and sparkled (literally) the whole time, and with the rest of the band, would have turned Cameo into a sweaty indie disco dance party had it not been so crowded it was hard to move.




After I clawed my way out of that show, I booked it over to Knitting Factory, just in time to catch Grass Widow. The San Francisco-based trio brought their west coast DIY punk charm, catchy surf punk tunes, and three-way harmonies. In true punk fashion, they played through their set so quick it was over before I knew it.




Sunday served up a Capeshok showcase with Grooms and Air Waves at Union Pool. Grooms provided a reminder of how much I enjoy a good, raw, rock band. This time, guitarist Travis Johnson sang lead much of the time instead of bassist Emily Ambruso, but all three of them faced inward towards each other on stage, in a way that made them all look completely equal and balanced while delivering their garage noise the same way they probably would if they were actually in their garage.


Air Waves is one of those bands that have a few more fist pumping fans in the crowd every time I see them; proof that honest music with substance is still winning people over little by little, even in the hipsterest of neighborhoods. Nicole Schneit & Co. played old favorites like “Knockout,” plus some new songs they were just ‘a few weeks old’ in the making.


Amen Dunes and Crystal Stilts rounded out the night at Glasslands, and at this point, the extremely similar labelmates kind of just bled into each other. The only majorly discernable differences simply being the organic progression of Amen Dunes exuding more energy and attitude before Crystal Stilts brought their mellow, hazy vibe, and that the more familiar Crystal Stilts songs got a more palpable response.  At the very end of the night at the very end of the festival, this smoky delirium-enhancing finale was an appropriate cadence to go out on.