No Northside, no Marnie Stern. But Magik Markers, Dynasty Handbag, and Fly Girls: you made it all ok.
One of the only “news” stories to emerge from the Northside Festival as of its closing out last night was Strength In Number’s equal parts righteous, alienating, legitimate, and seemingly out-of-the-blue 3×5-inch xerox statement that distanced the group from the local festival and refused entrance to those with badges. Along with making people think about where their dollars go, it probably made the Joes who forked fifty bucks over for one of the all-access passes feel like real assholes. (And possibly made Marnie Stern cancel her set?) At least they really stuck it to The Hold Steady. Booyah!
We’re not ones to assume this protest was planned weeks in advance, or that it was the show-throwing organization’s last-minute scramble to distance itself from what it determined was a skewed platform that mirrored the corporate music industry. We went with the flow, and thought what we heard at Shea Stadium was one of the best shows in Brooklyn this spring.
And while we can sympathize with Strength in Numbers retracted involvement in what they deemed to be corporatism dressed as community, our all-ages show at Death By Audio was basically like any unsponsored show we ever have, with the padding of a few badged-people (the limit was pretty strict) coming in and buying drinks from the venue and many commenting on the “festival” vibe. (We’re not quite sure what this means, but it probably has something to do with the reason so many broke-ass bands, promoters, and writers will go to a place like Austin in March in order to throw shows alongside a much bigger and nastier corporate body, ostensibly protesting its existence while partying, but y’know, why go at all if that’s the case?) At our official Northside show, we had 12-year old kids who paid alongside bearded dudes heading off to see Blues Control who didn’t, but it’s not like there was any clear division between two antagonistic groups. Except that one guy who kept taking his shirt off and saying crazy shit to girls.
So while we can’t preach political solidarity for or against the issue (that might be true about anything for the open-source writers of Impose), it’s always important to have someone out there raising legitimate issues about the architecture of your average music festival. We sent some questions to Northside about the logistics of badge money makin’, so more on that to come.
Meantime, Dynasty Handbag could almost have been the host of a terrifying children’s television program from the 70s, U.S. Girls showed up (surprise!), Fly Girls were pretty hot, and Magik Markers had a bassist and played a killer version of “Don’t Talk in Your Sleep”.