This weekend, for the ninth year, North Brooklyn’s music and innovation festival Northside will showcase a range of local and touring acts at venues across Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint. Heralding the start of summer, Northside is probably best known for its celebratory outdoor shows in McCarren Park, where some of the festival’s biggest acts perform. But it’s also replete with some of the best intimate lineups of local bands the city has to offer. In celebration of the fest, we’ve picked shows entirely from its impressive lineup to list this week. Good luck choosing where to head on these three stacked nights.
Elysia Crampton, Total Freedom, Moor Mother
8 p.m., $12–$15
Perhaps the most exciting lineup at Northside is this show at Greenpoint electronic haven Good Room, part of the Tinnitus Music Series, a Brooklyn event that focuses on “composers of extreme sound.” The three performers on this night fit the bill — all of them make music that pushes genres to their breaking points. They also share an interest in exploring questions of race, gender, and power within music that ranges from the power-electronic gospel of Moor Mother to Elysia Crampton’s Latin-inflected experimental sounds. If you’re wondering what the future sounds like, this is it.
No Joy, Amber Arcades, Eartheater
7 p.m., $12–$15
Brooklyn’s Eartheater, who also performs in the cacophonous noise project Guardian Alien, is a sonic sculptor of shimmering, eluvial worlds. Her experimental folk, if that’s what you want to call it, feels like something that’s unearthed and ancient, and yet it’s not hard to imagine her loops of synthetic bells as communications from a technologically advanced extraterrestrial society. Eartheater will play with the Canadian shoegaze band No Joy, whose guitar-driven tunes are atmospheric, yet down to earth.
Dirty Projectors, Kamasi Washington, Jay Som
5:30 p.m., $35–$39
Dirty Projectors’ music is unmistakable. As soon as you hear bandleader David Longstreth’s undulating, elastic voice, even if it’s creepily pitched down — as it is on the first track of the band’s new self-titled album — there’s no doubt about the recording’s origins. On the new LP, Longstreth gets more personal and specific than ever — to the album’s benefit and detriment. The songs are intoxicating, stretching and bending explorations of modern pop, r&b, and hip-hop, taking familiar sounds into bizarre new dimensions. The lyrics, like a car crash, are impossible to look away from, as Longstreth recounts in excruciating detail the death of his relationship with a former band member. Who’s allowed to tell the stories we create in private with other people? It’s a question as old as art itself, and with this masterful and uncomfortable new work, we’re no closer to answering it.
Aldous Harding, Tiny Hazard, M. Lamar
Park Church Co-op
7 p.m., $12
A woman with a strange voice is easy to dismiss — just look at the treatment of Joanna Newsom, who, if there’s any justice in this world, will be remembered as a songwriter as great as any in the last hundred years. Aldous Harding, a singer-songwriter from New Zealand, joins the ranks of Newsom and others on her second album, Party. Her moody goth-pop sounds greatest when she lets her dramatic voice out of its cage, as on the single “Imagining My Man,” which brings to mind some of Regina Spektor’s best songs. Perfume Genius does backup vocals here, lending the song his breathtaking vulnerability. Harding performs alongside the opera singer and performance artist M. Lamar, whose fascinating and challenging work is always worth experiencing.
Mary Timony (Helium), Noveller
8 p.m., $18–$20
If you were a young person living in the Northeast in the early Nineties, Helium might have been your salvation. The band could be called post-punk, or noisepop, but its timing and fearless bandleader Mary Timony drew easy comparisons to the West Coast riot grrrl scene. But Helium was both more experimental and technically proficient than many of the early riot grrrl groups, who often reveled in their own messiness. Instead, Helium’s inventive songs were generally well-produced and included a maturity that transcended their age and scene. Timony, who now leads the punk group Ex Hex, will play songs from her old band’s peak to celebrate the release of a Helium box set last month on their longtime home, the formidable Matador Records.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Beverly, Ablebody
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., $18–$20
After ten years pumping out pristine indie pop jams, Brooklyn’s Pains of Being Pure at Heart have yet to release a bad record. Pains, as they’re known to fans, haven’t released a full-length since 2014’s Days of Abandon, which found them stretching out their sound on songs with high production value and adding emotional complexity to the head-rush romance of their earlier work. Their newest single, “Anymore,” off their to-be-released album The Echo of Pleasure, hints at a turn toward fuzzier and more dissonant sounds. But Pains can’t suppress their knack for writing excellent pop tunes that make you feel like a teenager again — and why would they?
William Basinski, Julianna Barwick
7 p.m., $25–$30
William Basinski, the ambient music legend best known for his achingly gorgeous tape-loop piece The Disintegration Loops, released one of his best works in ages this year with a two-song, forty-minute work called A Shadow in Time. One of the songs, “For David Robert Jones,” is a 23-minute ode to David Bowie, though not much in the beautifully decaying, atmospheric soundscape would alert you to that (the song was literally created using pieces of tape that had been chewed up by Basinski’s former roommate’s cat). The title track is where Basinski really hits his stride, with a slowly building, slightly dissonant drone symphony that sounds like an orchestra waking up in a forest. Basinski will perform both of these pieces at this intimate show.
Jlin, Container, Foodman
Jlin is the stage name of the Indiana producer Jerrilynn Patton, a 29-year-old who is currently pushing the boundaries of dance music in fascinating directions. Patton began her production career as an adherent to the Midwest genre footwork, a super-high BPM style that’s known for dancers who move their feet so fast it’s hard to see them. Since then, Patton has branched out, creating music that’s difficult to categorize, with spare drum beats, out-of-left-field samples, and lurching rhythms. The effect is something that’s both minimal and overwhelming. Patton is one of dance music’s most promising new stars, and the rest of this Friday-night lineup is stacked with artists who are equally confident in their singular visions.
Sacred Bones 10-Year Anniversary Showcase
Pharmakon, Gary War, Destruction Unit, Institute, the Hunt, Pop. 1280
6 p.m., $20–$25
One of the highlights of this year’s Northside is the second show celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Brooklyn label Sacred Bones, whose curating force has brought together a collection of today’s darkest, weirdest, and most exciting artists across the realms of pop, electronic, noise, and psych. The de facto headliner of this show is Pharmakon, whose earsplitting music is the closest you can get to an auditory horror movie. Margaret Chardiet, the force behind Pharmakon, is known for her powerful, shattering live performances, where she conjures an unbelievable intensity in short, twenty-minute sets. Some of the other highlights of this stacked lineup include Gary War, a weirdo pop artist whose references to Eighties synthpop are both nostalgic and alien, and Pop. 1280, a rumbling, ominous noise rock band whose live sets can feel like the beginning of the apocalypse.
Miguel, BJ the Chicago Kid, Saro
6:30 p.m., $39–$44
Pop r&b star Miguel’s excellent 2015 album, Wildheart, was flush with psychedelic reverb and affirmations of sex positivity, a combination that wooed both the mainstream and indie rock critics, who have become some of the artist’s biggest fans over the last few years. On Wildheart, Miguel took up the mantle of mind-expanding artists like Prince, as interested in exploring sexuality and gender as he is with bragging about his conquests. At this outdoor, early-summer evening show, Miguel will be backed up by BJ the Chicago Kid, a rapper who is rising in the wake of hyper-inventive literate friends like Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar. BJ is another artist whose work revels in the soulfulness of America’s black music history.