1_Michael Cera_Alden Penner_Knitting Factory

One of the more intriguing shows of Northside Festival was the collaborative performance between Michael Cera (yes, that one) and Alden Penner (of The Unicorns). The two played a one-off performance at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn to share some of their own new music, as well as some of Penner’s more recent solo effort.

Many people like myself were interested to see in what capacity Cera would be participating with Penner, and the results were very exciting. They performed with an additional member who mostly played drums. However, the whole show was a rotation shift of instruments between the trio, with all taking turns with the guitar, bass, keys, and even drums. Cera and Penner swapped duties depending on the song.

Some of Penner’s material was played from solo efforts such as his new EP Canada in Space which was released in late June via City Slang Records, as well as “Elope,” from his Penner’s previous band Clues. Their collaborative stuff sounded exactly like you’d imagine it would, a mix of Penner’s work with The Unicorns, that pop-minded eccentricity that bodes quite well with Cera. It was cool to see Cera helm some songs of his own, a rather personal display from the big time actor.

No further details of what exactly is next for the duo, but fingers crossed that we will hear more from these two very soon.

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1_Ex Hex_MHOW

Ex Hex, the indie supergroup power trio of Mary Timony, Betsy Wright and Laura Harris returned to New York in June for a special performance at Music Hall of Williamsburg as a part of Northside Festival. It was a tail end performance of their tour for their rather fantastic debut album Rips, which Merge Records released last year.

My only other time seeing the rocking ladies was at last year at SXSW, but the group sounded even better at the fitting Music Hall of Williamsburg. They ripped through the best efforts of their album, and made it look easy. Lets hope we get a new record from them again soon, just so we can get another tour from these rock stars.

Find some more photos from their performance posted below.

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1_The Very Best_McCarren Park

With so much happening during Northside, it’s easy to miss a couple of hidden gems that occur throughout Brooklyn through the weekend. One of those shows was The Very Best, who played at McCarren Park for free on Friday night of Northside week, a jam packed night that had dozens of great shows to chose from.

The group performed tracks from their new album Makes A King, which was released earlier this year via Moshi Moshi Records. Their set was full of feel good groves and world music influences, that offered up a different sort of genre than the indie rock which makes up for a great deal of the festival. It was my first time seeing them live, and hopefully next time I’ll be able to stay for the entirety of their set.

Find photos from their Northside performance posted below.

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1_Neko Case_50 Kent

After many times missing her perform live, I finally got the chance to see Neko Case perform live this summer. Case played alongside the waterfront at the always lovely 50 Kent, as a part of The Northside Festival. The rather stacked bill also featured performances from Rhye, and Majical Cloudz.

After catching Case a couple of times with The New Pornographers recently, it finally came time to see one of her own solo shows. The performance was still in support of her 2013 record The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, which was released by Anti-.

She performed just as the sun set and delivered lovely alt-country tunes that are in constrast to the tough as nails hard nose persona that she shares in between songs. She tells it as it is, and that results in some funny banter in between songs. But while performing Case is all business, and that results in a truly impressive live show.

Find photos from her set posted below, along with Rhye and Majical Cloudz.

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1_Lower Dens_MHOW

With every listen, I seem to grow more and more fonder of Lower Dens’ latest record Escape From Evil, which they released earlier this year via Domino Records.

I heard them play most of the new record near the albums release back in March at Baby’s All Right. They returned for a slightly larger show at Music Hall of Williamsburg in June as a part of the Northside Festival.

Jana Hunter and the rest of the band ran sounded just as triumphant, with new songs, and old, sounding blissful as all hell. The Escape From Evil tracks fit snugly alongside older favorites such as “Brains.” The little subtitles of new songs such as “Non Grata” and “To Die in L.A.” sound even better live. They had command of the crowd the whole night, and didn’t let loose at any point.

They’ll make their return to New York on September 28 for a performance at sister space Bowery Ballroom. Tickets are currently still on sale.

Find photos of their performance below, along with opener TEEN.

TEEN:

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1_Luna_McCarren Park

90s indie rock heroes Luna played their first live show in New York in 10 years at McCarren Park back in June for Northside Festival. If that wasn’t cool enough, the show was free to all who were smart enough to take advantage. I still remember when a friend introducedLuna to be back in high school, and never thought I would get to see them reunite to perform live. The fact that it was on a beautiful (although hot) summer day in the comfortably spacious McCarren Park made the experience that much more memorable.

The lineup of Dean Wareham, Britta Phillips, Sean Eden, and Lee Wall is the same as the one that called it quits in 2005, but came together for a performance full of the songs that fans have been dying to hear for the past decade. The group didn’t miss a beat, sounding as strong as I imagined that they would, almost as if they never left. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t have guessed that this was a band who hadn’t played together for the past decade.

Luna will be back again very soon, returning this fall for two shows at Bowery Ballroom on October 7 & 8, as well as MHOW on October 9. All three shows are sold out.

Find photos of their performance below, along with the setlist.

Setlist:

1. Slide
2. California (All the Way)
3. Malibu Love Nest
4. Chinatown
5. Sideshow by the Seashore
6. Speedbumps
7. Tiger Lily
8. Tracy I Love You
9. Bewitched
10. Friendly Advice
11. Pup Tent
12. Lost in Space
13. Moon Palace
14. 23 Minutes in Brussels

Encore:

15. Time to Quit
16. Indian Summer (Beat Happening cover)

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1_The Do_Bowery Ballroom

Back in June French/Finnish duo The Dø made their long overdue return to New York for a sold out performance at Bowery Ballroom. The stop came in support of their most recent album Shake Shook Shaken which was released stateside this year via Wagram Music, and released in Europe in 2014.

Their stop at Bowery Ballroom was my first time seeing the group live. Settling into the crowd I noticed a large majority of the crowd around me were speaking every language but English, proving that The Dø attract a diverse multicultural crowd who all share the same passion. By the time the group, a trio live, took the stage, we were all on the same page.

Singer Olivia Merilahti led the pack with a confident performance as the frontwoman, while instrumentalist Dan Levy offered a less showy but equally passionate performance. On stage they’re joined by drummer Pierre Belleville, whose been with them since 2009. The group ran through tracks from their new record, as well as older material, keeping the energy in the room high at all times, delivering the goods in as fun of a fashion as imaginable.

Hopefully the wait to see The Dø play live in the states won’t be as long as the last, because they were an absolute blast. Find my interview with Merilahti from earlier in the year here, and some more photos from the show posted below, along with the setlist.

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1_The Vaccines_Warsaw

It’s hard to believe that The Vaccines are already on album number three. With the release English Graffiti (released via Columbia Records), the group released three albums in just four years, the time that many bands take just to release one.

This summer they made their return to New York to play a sold out show at Warsaw in Brooklyn. The young crowd was eager to bounce around to the brisk rock tunes of The Vaccines once again, and the band didn’t disappoint. Leading off with English Graffiti single “Handsome,” the band proved they were back in business, and they sounded as impressive as ever. It’s hard to believe it, but they’re now veterans, a strong-willed rock band who are assured and confident.

With the addition of live keyboardist Timothy Lanham, the 5-piece version of The Vaccines are able to recreate the synth whirls found on the new record, as well as add an extra boost with old favorites such as “If You Wanna,” “Melody Calling,” “Wetsuit,” and “All In White,” which gloriously rounded out the 3-song encore, as it should.

The new songs sounded even better live, and the old songs had even more life than ever before. If you can find tickets to their upcoming performances at Rough Trade in September, you should go. It should be a good one.

Find more photos from the performance posted below, along with the setlist.

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1_Mini Mansions_Rough Trade NYC

I was introduced to Los Angeles rockers Mini Mansions through various legs of tours spent opening for Arctic Monkeys. It wasn’t until their performance at Rough Trade NYC in June where I was able to finally check out a headlining show of their own.

This year they released their new album The Great Pretenders (via Capitol Records) a record that burst through with large-scale rock anthems. One particular highlight is single “Vertigo” which features vocals from Arctic Monkeys very own Alex Turner. When planning to come to the show I jokingly wondered if Turner could possibly show up, but figured it was just a pipe dream. Yet, the day before the show at Governors Ball I found out Turner was in attendance, which changed my tune completely.

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Midway through the show I spotted Turner standing just a few spots behind me in the crowd. When the time came for him to make his cameo for “Vertigo” the unsuspecting crowd was left stunned by his brief, but memorable cameo, which certainly stole the show.

His appearance aside, Mini Mansions delivered a exciting performance that really is meant for a place much bigger than Rough Trade. They have the tunes for it, more people just need to start paying better attention.

Find more photos from the show posted below, along with a live recordings of their performance of “Vertigo” with Alex Turner.

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1_Temples_MHOW

Back in June English psych-rockers Temples made their return to New York to play a sold out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. The stop came in between summer festival dates in June, and as a victory lap for their terrific debut album Sun Structures (released by Fat Possum)

Shamefully this was my first time seeing them perform since they played Bowery Ballroom back in 2013 (man, time just flies on by). The group sounded good during that performance, but the Temples I was currently seeing was a tighter, groovier bunch, who had the capacity crowd eager to bop along and sing back every word. These guys had become rock stars, practically overnight.

The night was full of the wonders of Sun Structures, as well as a few new songs, such as “Volcano / Saviour” and “Henry’s Cake.” The new stuff seemed fully realized and ready to go, making me excited at the prospect of new record, possibly by next year.

Find some photos from the show, along with the setlist, posted below.

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