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Northside Festival a film, music haven


Lambchop Photo Credit: Lambchop

It seems like everyone who visits Austin’s SXSW festival has a complaint about how it has become too big and too commercial.

Brooklyn’s Northside Festival may be the antidote, although it’s growing too.
Now in its fourth year, the festival is an eight-day affair that brings up-and-coming bands, filmmakers and entrepreneurs to Williamsburg and Greenpoint. But unlike in Texas, you won’t see Justin Timberlake here.

Here’s a look at some of the bands playing instead:

Swans formed in 1982 and was part of the downtown No Wave scene that also gave birth to Sonic Youth. The band’s live shows are often described as violent and punishing, but also legendary and wholly unique. (Thursday, Warsaw, 7 p.m., $32)

The Men
The Men started out as a hardcore band, but over the last two years have become so much more. Their latest album, “New Moon,” adds harmonica and acoustic guitars straight out of a Neil Young record. But they’ve also internalized Young’s noisier side and haven’t lost their punk spirit. (Friday, Warsaw, 7 p.m., sold out)

The Walkmen
One of the few survivors from the crop of Brooklyn bands that made Williamsburg known across the country, The Walkmen have managed to grow old gracefully. Their music, which has elements of the Pixies’ angst and U2’s soaring anthems, has mellowed as the band has taken on adult topics like family and long-term contentment. (Saturday, McCarren Park, 3 p.m., Free with RSVP)

Tampa’s Merchandise has an ’80s new wave sound that immediately brings to mind The Smiths and Joy Division. Yet there are also elements of the punk band they once were and the experimental jazz they love. (Saturday, 285 Kent, 8 p.m., $13)

One of the festival’s largest, yet quietest bands, Lambchop offers a perfect way to bring the weekend to a close. Its songs are full of beautiful melodies that hit a sweet spot between jazz, country, chamber pop and folk music. (Sunday, Warsaw, 8 p.m., $25)

Northside Festival runs Thursday through June 20 at various locations. For ticket and schedule information, go to


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