Northside Fest – Friday

Hess is More + Kid Koala (Pospect Park), Tame Impala (Glasslands), Darlings (Public Assembly) – June 25th

When I left work Friday night, I went home, thinking I might just take it easy and watch a movie, but apparently, a quiet evening was not in the forecast. Soon after arriving at my apartment, I noticed (via Facebook) that one of my friends from high school was playing the vibes at Prospect Park, so I ran over to catch Hess is More. Though I only saw the group’s last three songs, I was completely charmed. I’ve heard Hess is More recorded, but never live, and it’s quite a different affair in person. Mikkel Hess, the mastermind behind the project, played the drums with his back to the audience (so that he faced his band), but it worked… probably because he’s got that irresistible air of modest Danish enthusiasm. His playfully inventive songs coupled well with the jazzy techno beats. Do yourself a favor and check out Hess Is More on Soundcheck.

Up next was Kid Koala. For his first set, he was joined by DJ P-Love and for the second, The Slew (featuring the ex-WolfMother rhythm section). More than a talented disc jockey, Kid Koala’s ADJ is also a graphic novelist and something of a comedian. He broke up his two sets with a game of bingo, featuring hand-drawn illustrations from his own repertoire. I may not have won, but I did enjoy seeing his whimsical creations (and even a family photo or two) flit across the screen.

Kid Koala sampled music from a wide swathe of genres. Outkast, and old jazz tune, and a song from Monty Python were just a few of the things he spun.

Next, I embarked on a quest to obtain a coveted badge to this weekend’s Northside Festival. Luckily, I didn’t have to look far. I arrived at Death By Audio just in time to grab one from a friend. After slipping in a piece of paper bearing my name, I headed around the corner to check out Tame Impala at Glasslands… only the line was out the door and down the block by the time I got to the scene. Luckily, I found a way in just as the young band was starting to play.

Tame Impala

With their long (often sun-bleached) hair, lackadaisical stage presence, and sunny, psychedelic leanings, they easily fulfill the requirements of an Australian band. Heck. Two of the members were even shirtless (of course, that could have been more a result of the unbearable heat and humidity and not their homeland). Even the vocals seem to fit in with the band’s overall presentation. Instead of hogging the stage, lead guitarist and vocalist Kevin Parker unassumingly jams off to the side of the stage, leaning into the mic to sing only occasionally. The vocals may not be the focal point, but Parker’s voice is smooth (if indecipherable) and the group’s harmonies are pretty solid. And then there are the kazoos… at least for one song.

Check out “Sundown Syndrome” (complete with foreign subtitles!)

More than just your average recent reincarnation of a psychedelic band, Tame Impala also seems to have something a little jazzy going on. Good stuff.

To cap off the evening, I headed over to Public Assembly to catch a set by the Brooklyn band, Darlings.


Initially, I walked into the wrong room at the venue, and I was thrust into the honkey-tonk world of cowboys (and girls dressed like pin-ups from the 50s and 60s). Hmmm… this isn’t quite right. I consulted the sign outside the door and noticed to my relief that there was another space across the hall. Bingo.

They may have already played a show at another venue just a couple of hours before, but they seemed to have a surprising amount of energy. Matt Solomon, the drummer, made exaggerated and crazed arm motions and Joe Tirabassi refused to obey the tacit code of bass players to remain motionless. The audience responded the energy and actually danced around in front of the stage. It wasn’t until after the show had ended that one guy took off his flip flop and noticed that his foot was bleeding… profusely. After seeing the puddles of blood on the floor (it appears as if he stepped in some glass and didn’t initially notice), I decided to call it a night.

It was certainly an action-packed evening. I only wonder what tonight will hold…
That said, let me know if you have recommendations!


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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