Northside 2016

author HES date 22/06/16

The festival wars in Denmark are still raging and if you’re into a bit of everything rock, it seems that this year it has been scattered over a few of them. So again we travel to Ådalen in Aarhus to enjoy one of the most "proper" festivals of the season: NorthSide. This year we still encounter heavy doses of what is most accurately described as the "P3 segment": Hip indie, hip EDM and hip hop. However, this year a few bookings stick out from the prim and proper line-up: Surprisingly more gritty options like Deftones, Refused and Puscifer have been added to this year’s line-up.

All pictures in the article courtesy of Homage Photography

A patriotic selfie in front of Beach House

THE FESTIVAL SET UP

Denmark is not known for its hilly geography, but somehow Aarhus has gotten its fair share of hills. Halfway up one of the hills of Ådalen, the festival area towers. Downhill two major stages brace the big crowds and provide great views for most festival-goers. The layout is half-circled with the two stages at each end. This means that in the evening when the bigger names draw big crowds very proximate to each other, there is only a short walk from one show to the next.

By the entrance in a little appendix, isolated from the rest of the festival area is the P6 Beat Stage, for the up-and-coming bands. The area has a narrow entrance and exit that are parted by a dry-wall-ish structure and guarded by semi-rude guards that reprimand the inattentive festival-goer choosing the wrong lane. The area is characterised by the difficulties afforded by its layout and is often littered with people near the exits and tonnes of space in the front. It does not help that all bars and food stands are placed near the entrance, leaving people to hang around here more and blocking the otherwise lightly packed front end. For many of these reasons, the area is generally avoided for anything but the most interesting names, as the long walk to and fro is not a quick one, often creating queues with greater influxes or retreats.

One of the younger audience members

Atop the hills lies the food area where you can buy anything from classic Danish "tarteletter" to quinoa salads. Most of these options will set you back in the area of 70-90 DKK. However, this year some fast food options between the two stages replace an addendum food court of yesteryear with a few, smaller stands with Copenhagen classics like LéLé Street Food and Tommi’s Burger Joint with more decently priced, lighter meals. A canopy provides shelter from the heavy wind or the baking sun as well as a small seating arrangement. But whereas the former years the festival had put a lot of effort into alternative seating arrangements like a sofa tower or artsy sculpture benches, this year the focus seems to have been on seating more people, making the creative installations secondary. This is general for the entire festival area, where big features like a ping pong ship, balcony bars and the likes are replaced by your average plywood structures with specific functions.

Strange “decorations” in Outside

The popularity of the "Rum and Cigars"-bar seems to have invaded the "Outside" area that was the festival’s best-kept secret up until this year. The area is a small wooded area on one side of the festival area, with fairy lights and forest floor bars - but most of the time this year it’s a giant mass of people moving in all directions on the steep staircases. All in all, it is clear, that NorthSide is growing into maturity - there is not as much space for experiments when the increasing number of guests put their faith in the festival for toilets, drinks and food. On the other hand, these amenities work to a tee - never having you wait more than 5 minutes for a toilet, a beer or a burger at most times.

As for drinks, Tuborg seems to have fully engulfed most of yesteryear’s more DIY-ish bars. But that also means that a bar is almost always in your close vicinity, albeit with the same limited assortment: Beer, beer in a jug, cider and a short list of long drinks, depending on the stock. A 40cl beer will set you back 43 DKK plus 2 DKK pant. Apart from this, a gin bar is set in a far away corner and a "speciality beer"-bar serves you mainly Carlsberg’s Brewmaster collection. In the back of the festival a wine bar towers but as a new thing, the bar only serves whole bottles. These bottles are also banned from the remaining festival area, so for the busy scribe, it is hard to find time to taste the goods. HES

DAY 1 - Friday

Dennis Lyxzén of Refused

Refused @ 16:30 - 17:30 on Blue Stage

As our first show at the festival this year, we have the Swedish hardcore-veterans in Refused whose hard-hitting music quickly shakes us up. Their enigmatic frontman Dennis Lyxzén doesn't waste a second before he begins split jumping and throwing his microphone into the air like a seasoned professional while dancing around with moves like a kind of punk Michael Jackson. While their music is definitely hardcore, many of the songs are catchy and very danceable and even though the band's target audience is not present in large numbers at this festival, a smaller mosh pit is active in front of the stage pretty much throughout the set. Lyxzén even descends from the stage during "Rather Be Dead", jumps the fence and walks out among the moshing and singing audience who only sing even more excitedly because of it. Still, the uncompromising energy that flows from the stage falls a little flat in the long run as it's not picked up by the larger part of the crowd who's at most tapping their feet or occasionally headbanging a little, not even erupting during a classic like "New Noise". Towards the end of the show, Lyxzén takes somewhat of a cheap shot at the festival by commenting on the complete lack of female performers today, concluding with "NorthSide, get your shit together!", even though it's true that the number of bands here with women in them can more or less be counted on one hand. Overall, the show features a well-playing band that unfortunately plays to a crowd that is simply not ready for this kind of energy at this time of day. [7] LF

Dougy Mandagi of The Temper Trap

The Temper Trap @ 19:00 - 20:00 on Blue Stage

All the way from Australia, this soft rock quartet is mainly known to me because of their ecstatic song "Sweet Disposition" which is so good that I'll probably never get tired of it for years to come. Thus, I don't really know what to expect from them tonight apart from a probable appearance of the aforementioned song and I am positively surprised by the rest of their material that all features the characteristic falsetto singing of their lead vocalist Dougy Mandagi. They seem to have a devout following of fans gathered today who raise their hands and sing along to many of their songs, although most insistently during "Sweet Disposition", which also ends their set in a prolonged version that pushes the upwards-striving song even further than usual. During their set, they also find time for an intermediate jam-session that builds tension in much the same calculated way as their hit single and overall, the show plays like an enjoyable one but nothing mindblowing. [7] LF

Yeasayer rocking up the P6 Beat Stage

During Temper Trap's fine performance we get time for a quick expedition to catch a couple of songs by the New York-based band Yeasayer but not enough to justify a full review or a fair grade. The band's experimental psych-pop certainly has a rock edge when played live even though a single like "Silly Me" from their most recent album is most of all a danceable quirky pop song, also when performed here. Dancing calmly and bopping their heads is also what the audience that fit under the pavilion here are doing when we pass through and generally, there's a relaxed and good vibe around.

Chino Moreno of Deftones

Deftones @ 20:15 - 21:30 on Green Stage

For any metal or hard rock fan who has taken the trip to NorthSide this year, the alternative metal band Deftones is probably one of the main reasons. As a somewhat weird booking at the otherwise indie-dominated festival, I worry about the turnout but luckily this proves to be no problem at all, dwarfing the support for Incubus here last year. The hill in front of Green Stage is filled with people for the duration of the band's show and there's no shortage of enthusiasm for most of the songs. The band plays energetically through favourites of mine like "Digital Bath", "Knife Prty", and "Swerve City" but surprisingly the set list only features one song from their recently released new record, that is "Prayers/Triangles". The only thing really stopping this dynamic show from really lifting off the ground is a terrible sound mix that fortunately gets gradually better through the set until the last bunch of songs sound decent. Especially the more atmospheric songs suffer from this, as the layers that should be delicately placed mingle together to an incoherent jumble of sound backed by a somewhat hollow rhythm section. Vocalist Chino Moreno's emotive voice is on point though and he changes seamlessly between otherworldly screams and mellow, echoing singing. He is all smiles and happy dancing throughout the show and there's no reason not to be, as the choice of focusing on older material certainly pays off, especially towards the end where people are jumping with their hands up all around to a parade of "Around the Fur", "Rickets", and "Headup", followed by an encore of "Bored" and "Engine No. 9". What could have been somewhat of a disaster is securely pulled through by a dedicated band and a supportive audience and makes for one of the very best shows of this year's festival. [8] LF

Lukas Graham on stage - party on the lawn

Beers flow heavily in all directions after a successful Deftones show, so both scribes of this fair magazine ended up in the masses in front of Lukas Graham. We’ll spare you too many details but it’s fair to say that this young man knows how to throw a party. Sometimes it’s worth going to a show with music you don’t really listen to yourself, just to enjoy the sheer joy a soul-pop party can spur in the otherwise rhythm-less, Danish people. Good for you, Lukas.

Iggy Pop being ratchet

Iggy Pop @ 23:15 - 00:45 on Green Stage

After the loss of David Bowie, it seems more important than ever to appreciate the living legends rock music has to offer before it’s too late. So after a well-oiled day, I am ready to rock out to do just that as Iggy Pop pays a visit to the now dark Green Stage. And the show starts out great with classics like "No Fun", "The Passenger", "Lust For Life" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog". But it quickly becomes apparent that the show is more about the antics than the music, as Iggy Pop, shirtless as usual, yells profanities, humps a chair and puts the mic into his pants as he fondles it provocatively. At the same time, the Josse Homme-lacking backing band seems to be exactly just that, not really doing anything apart from backing the larger than life icon - acting like a gung-ho teenager, not even noticing how his age doesn’t really fit the overtly sexual stage show. Maybe he could sell it to us, this whole sexual undertone and devil-may-care attitude, if it wasn’t for the overall feeling of distance between Iggy and his band, as well as the distance between Iggy and his crowd. The cold creeps in and the best songs are already over and I feel myself staring more at my shoes than at the stage. So I hang around for the iconic "Real Wild Child", but as the set moves into the duo of new songs "Break Into Your Heart" and "Gardenia" I have to admit defeat: My warm, borrowed bed in Aarhus seems more convincing company than Iggy Pop. [6] HES

DAY 2 - Saturday

Niels Brandt of The Minds of 99 under a late afternoon sky

The Minds of 99 @ 16:30 - 17:30 on Blue Stage

After arriving a little later than planned on the festival's second day, we settle down at a table with an early dinner to check out this year's performance by the celebrated Danish rock band who played a great show here in 2015. This time, they have twice as many songs out and a big part of the setlist consists of the songs from their newest album. They kick off with some of their most obviously electronically founded songs, beginning with "Drømmer Om Livet" that soon builds into a rave-like repetitive tune. It feels like a slightly odd move that leaves no time to slowly build up the audience towards an ecstatic dancing mood but otherwise, the set is structured well with many sing-along-friendly cuts. The band's vocalist, Niels Brandt, is donning his usual zippered sports jacket and aggressive look while ripping through every song with his flat, nasal voice that sounds equal parts apathetic and like an oddly compelling chant. As such, there's nothing remarkably new about the show despite the band's slight musical change between albums. "Hurtige Hænder", "Stjerner På Himlen", "En Fremmed", and "Til Dem" are all highlights of a smoothly executed set but the mood outside the pit never reaches more than a moderate afternoon high under a sky that is perhaps not dark enough for the band’s simple yet poetic lyrics to really grab a hold of us. [6½] LF

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco on his electric guitar

Wilco @ 17:45 - 18:45 on Green Stage

Formed by the remaining members of country rock band Uncle Tupelo in the 90's, the indie rock of Wilco has a very warm American vibe even in their spacier songs. With their latest album entitled "Star Wars", there's a lot of sci-fi-like effects on the instruments today with guitars and bass each having effect knobs and pads connected to them. They play a smoothly running set with tightly written, mostly calm songs that fit well with a lazy late afternoon mood where many audience members sit around on the grass and listen. Vocalist and guitarist Jeff Tweedy sings in his slightly hoarse voice and changes between an acoustic and an electric guitar, channelling the country vibe in his denim shirt and white cowboy hat. From time to time, the songs evolve into longer jams or impressive and soulful guitar solos that often catch the attention of some of the more chatty audience members. Late in the set, a song that I suspect to be the otherwise sweetly sounding "Heavy Metal Drummer" attracts laughs all around as the drummer suddenly hits everything he can for about ten seconds before the song goes back to its calm indie rock outset with nothing but cheeky smiles from the band members. It sounds like an accident but happens again later in the song and it works as a curious gimmick that shakes the relaxing audience up a bit. [7] LF

A masked Maynard James Keenan singing for Puscifer

Puscifer @ 19:00 - 20:00 on Blue Stage

In somewhat of a rare coincidence, I realise as we stand around waiting for alternative rock band Puscifer that I get to hear several of my favourite vocalists at this year's festival. Of these, Maynard James Keenan (also of Tool fame), who I have never heard live before, is near the absolute top of my list. In Puscifer, he shares vocal duties with the British singer-songwriter Carina Round and just as on the band's latest album, the harmonies the two deliver tonight are on point as their voices compliment each other perfectly. The winding music is played loudly and at times it's hard to hear the vocals in the mix but still songs like "The Remedy" and "Grand Canyon" as well as alternative versions of the older songs "Breathe" and "Vagina Mine" all make a great impression. What takes most of the audience's immediate attention is, however, a bizarre stage show that plays to the theme of wrestling that the latest album, "Money Shot", centred around visually. Thus, behind the central drum kit, a wrestling ring is set up wherein a black-clad acrobat and two masked teams of one muscly man and one cheering woman dance, fight and throw each other around pretty much throughout the set, simultaneously working as hype people for the band. While this does mean that one is never bored during the show, it's a huge shame when at times it overshadows the experimental music that could easily stand on its own. [8] LF

Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade rocking it out after a five year hiatus

Wolf Parade @ 19:00 - 19:45 on P6 Beat Stage

Wolf Parade is a new name to me, but having existed since 2003 the band has enjoyed moderate success in their native Canada, before going on an indefinite hiatus in 2011. Revamping themselves in January 2016 the band is now ready to give it another go. Having ties to Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire the band seems an obvious choice for NorthSide’s audience, but as a walk toward the P6 Beat Stage proves, it seems most of them didn’t get the memo. Slowly, a smaller crowd gathers in front of the stage and the band starts steadily with great depth in bass and drums as well as a couple of interesting synths sending one’s thoughts to The Killers anno 2005. However, the band seems a little stiff after five years without practice, taking too much time during shifts between songs, letting it drown the just earned energy and leaving their audience hanging. Luckily for the band, the small but respectable audience is more dedicated than the band deserves and stick around for the well-earned release in the end of the show. The set picks up speed and the two last songs kick off some unexpected firework in the shape of the two best songs off their debut full-length "Apologies To The Queen Mary": Firstly "This Heart’s On Fire" written and sung by the founding member Spencer Krug and then the quirky waltz-rhythm "I’ll Believe Anything" by the other founding member Dan Boeckner, Boeckner singing vocals this time. I wish this dynamic of two vocalists had been utilised better in the start of the show. [7] HES

Ruban Neilson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Unknown Mortal Orchestra @ 20:15 - 21:30 on Green Stage

Described by NorthSide as "psychedelic lo-fi", Unknown Mortal Orchestra does smell like that, but the owls are not what they seem here. Whereas songs like "So Good at Being In Trouble" could pass as a jazzy version of Kurt Vile’s general approach to lo-fi, songs like "Multi-Love" completely runs off to play with R&B as well as … disco? In any way, the laid-back soundscape fails to really engage the crowd beyond second or third row. The weird shifts across genres also seem to add to some confusion as one minute the songs are danceable, the next moment they are minimalistic and artsy. And as the band decides to throw in several cerebral jamming-breaks, the confusion peaks. Unfortunately, that means that many leave before the well-constructed "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)" towards the end. [6] HES

Sigur Rós @ 21:45 - 23:00 on Blue Stage

The sun is slowly setting over Aarhus as the crowd slowly closes ranks for Sigur Rós’ twilight show, that is bravely set off by the ambient darkness of the new track "Óveður". This beginning is following in the footsteps of the gloomy 2013 release "Kveikur" as dark, dystopian skies light up the backdrop with every shivering synth, gathering and dividing upon the band that is hidden behind a veil of both backdrop and lights. Jónsi Birgisson’s voice breaks through the gloomy skies atop of broken beats that almost defiantly refuse to adhere to worldly rhythms.

And as quick as they came, the skies disappear to let in the light of mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful "Starálfur", a lullaby bidding the night sky welcome as the grand piano motifs feel in sync with the soft wind lifting our hair and the song crumbles into the hand-played (whereas most of the guitar is otherwise played by bow), acoustic guitar interlude. Only two songs in and it’s hard not to get caught up in the grandness of both light and sound. I hear some people speaking behind me, but I just zoom out and let the violins carry me on their way as the song disappears to return, full force for the third time - now with the musical backdrop of exploding firework-like drums ending in col legno strings, choirs before, again, the hand-played, bare guitar, and then ambient noise, carrying into the crackling intro of "Sæglópur".

The wonder that is Jónsi Birgisson

I think it’s fair to say that Birgisson’s vocal range surpasses anything or maybe even any living thing’s vocal range. But the truly impressing part is also his control on notes, how he softly eases into them with no coarseness and holds them for inhumanly long periods of time and then still has enough air to jump into the next. The long, mournful wails of his bow-strung guitar mixes with the perfectly tempered synths as the night grows darker around us, letting one beautiful data-glitched backdrop replace the next for a sheer cavalcade of “hits” from all albums, among them newer, more melodic tracks from “Kveikur” like “Yfirborð”, over the more experimental tracks like “Glósóli” from “Takk” and the art-rock opus “Ný Batteri” off “Ágætis byrjun”. The dark night consumes us in a gloomy embrace in the shape of the rolling basslines of “Hafsól” and ending in “Poplagið”; a soundscape slowly adding oxygen to a small ember, setting an eruption of lights off in the now pitch black night. Sigur Rós does not only provide us with a spectacle of a light show. The grandness of the compositions seems for a minute to conduct a symphony not only of instruments but the wind against our cheeks and the setting sun. What beautiful noise only three men can make! [9½] HES

Beach House closing Green Stage

After having our minds blown over at Blue Stage, we catch a few songs by dream pop band Beach House on the Green stage. Clad in a striking dark gown that glitters like a thousand stars in the night sky, keyboard player and vocalist Victoria LeGrand sings with her mellow voice into the night with Alex Scully on guitar by her side. Along with their touring drummer and bassist, they make a striking image on the screens next to the stage. However, with no particular preexisting knowledge of their music, the songs quickly blend in with each other and thus we soon head home in preparation for an early rock show tomorrow

DAY 3 - Sunday

Twin Atlantic having fun against the odds

Twin Atlantic @ 13:10 - 13:55 on Blue Stage

After sleeping a bit too long and getting out the door later than intended, we luckily don't miss more than one or two songs by this Scottish rock band. We arrive in time to hear the sound of vocalist Sam McTrusty wringing out the last notes of "Hold On" and the sight of sunny but also pretty much empty festival grounds. Allegedly, this is because everyone is trying instead to get to see the Danish R&B act Phlake at the too-small P6 Beat Stage, but at least the well-playing Twin Atlantic deal with the situation in an absolutely professional manner and play like they were looking at a crowd of 100,000 people. They're already touring with some new songs from their upcoming album "GLA" which is set to come out in September, and we get to hear a catchy one from it called "No Sleep" a bit further into the set. Towards the end we get some very danceable hits in "Free" and "Heart and Soul" and McTrusty's Scottish accent seems to be charming most people present even though his singing sounds slightly off from time to time. He hails us for being the few hundred most dedicated people at the festival who deal with hangovers by getting up and drinking more beer but despite all the goodwill between the band and the audience, the early time slot sets its mark on the experience as a whole. [6½] LF

Damien Rice @ 14:05 - 14:50 on Green Stage

At the perfect time for sitting down and enjoying the sun, Damien Rice is scheduled to play his vulnerable songs and despite him being all alone with his guitar on stage, he manages to attract most of the surrounding audience's attention for a relatively short set. He plays perfectly through hits like "9 Crimes", "Cannonball" and "The Blower's Daughter" and manages to communicate just as much emotion as on record despite the lack of other expressive instruments in the soundscape. Especially the later "I Remember" sounds surprisingly loud as he strums his guitar almost violently and sings his heart out. This only escalates in the last song, "It Takes A Lot To Know A Man", where he loops his guitar and his vocals after a while only to add on a clarinet theme, a big resounding drum beat, and some roundly ringing metal bells until the layered song seems to encompass everyone in front of the stage and he walks off while it lingers and fades out. Overall, an impressive set that ended up being much more than I had expected. [7½] LF



Velvet Volume

Velvet Volume @ 15:00 - 15:45 on P6 Beat Stage

Another Danish rock band on the rise, the sister-trio Velvet Volume plays today to a completely packed P6 Beat Stage - understandable as they are after all local Aarhusian heroes. Despite having not released many songs yet, they have more than enough for a full set, playing confidently through songs like "I Think I Need You" and "Here Comes The Man" which I already thoroughly recognise despite having not heard them more than a couple of times before. The three women are all attitude with ballsy riffs and dramatically delivered vocals dominating the somehow very simplistic old-school rock sound, not least in the catchy song "We Just Wanna Get Along" which appears later in the set. However, they are a young band and that can be felt mostly in the lack of diversity of their material with songs that quickly seem like more of the same thing today. Despite that, they carry themselves impressively and there's no denying that this show is a victory for them not least in the warm reception they get from young and old audience members alike this warm afternoon. [7] LF

Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg @ 16:10 - 17:10 on Green Stage

Am I getting old here, or was I supposed to know who this Jake Bugg guy is? I started listening only as preparation for this festival and found what I would characterise as a pretty vanilla country singer-songwriter with a very distinct British accent (not what you normally get in this genre). But as I walk towards the Green Stage, it seems I should have paid more attention to the attention this young man has gotten: The hill is packed with people! So I find a suitable spot way back on the windiest of spots. Unfortunately, this wind also takes the fullness of the soundscape, meaning that the only thing really protruding through to my spot on the hill is Bugg’s, on this day, very nasal voice. The new, danceable non-country song “Gimme The Love” fairs a little better because of more richness in the sound provided by rhythm and choir while the slim sounds from “Two Fingers” get ripped apart by gusts of wind. The most successful song I found in Bugg’s repertoire, “Lightning Bolt”, is sadly also missing in the part of the set I stick around for and all in all, it results in quite a letdown. [6] HES

Blossoms

Blossoms @ 17:20 - 18:05 on P6 Beat Stage

Blossoms is quite a good example of how NorthSide’s bookers sometimes just find strange, niche indie bands that for some reason tend to fare well in a live setting only on the basis of a few EPs. The band’s newest “At Most A Kiss” shows a band inspired by the 1980’s, but being haunted by a few ghosts: The songwriting, mixing and composition are all way too corny. However, corny also does mean catchy, so it’s hard to not make a quick visit to the P6 Beat Stage to watch the band live and sing along to at least one of those sugary sweet choruses, albeit it might be on the border of what Rockfreaks should really cover. The band has more edge live, and especially the darker “Getaway” and the hit “Charlemagne” sound way better than expected. Unfortunately, attendance is low and the rest of the material fails to entice most of the audience. [6½] HES

Louise Bartle of Bloc Party

Bloc Party @ 18:30 - 19:30 on Green Stage

Having recently reviewed Bloc Party’s latest release “Hymns”, I must admit my expectations for tonight’s show has drastically gone lower and lower. To be completely honest, this band probably hasn’t been back to the peak that “Silent Alarm” from 2005 was - for some reason still seemingly failing to really match the eclectic style that struck a chord with the MySpace-generation. There also is no doubt that the songs in the set from that album, like “Banquet”, “Like Eating Glass” and “Helicopter”, work out better than the rest of the mixed bag Kele Okereke is serving us today. Along the most horrendous songs are a hectic, superficially sounding “Flux” and the repetitive brain drill “Mercury”. Some redeeming moments appear in the shape of the grime-inspired “Ratchet” that works in spite of Okereke’s rapping verses and the close-to-fog-horn-riffed opener of “Hymns”. “The Love Within” does better under the tender love and care from drummer Louise Bartle which replaces an absolutely horrible drum machine on the studio version. But all in all, it is not nearly redeeming enough for the horrible missteps some of the newer material has been for this band: Okereke is mainly just revealing himself as a worse composer on every new album and it shows in the crowd migration that slowly starts happening mid-show. [6] HES

Duran Duran

Duran Duran @ 20:50 - 22:20 on Green Stage

As we place ourselves to the side of the Green Stage, it doesn't take long for Duran Duran to get on stage to a dramatic lightning intro that smooths into the new single "Paper Gods". The band dressed in white and black leather jackets sound great from the start and soon the audience is in full party mode as the songs "The Wild Boys", "Hungry Like the Wolf", and "A View to a Kill" boom from the speakers in all their 80's glory. Spiced up with a few of the better cuts from their newest record, the set list that the Britons deliver tonight are just what the crowd is looking for and there is dancing and singing all around, albeit most excitedly during the biggest hits, not least "Ordinary World" that has arms swaying from side to side as far as the eye can see. The set also features two tributes to the inspirational David Bowie in short renditions of "Space Oddity" and "Let's Dance" that are, however, not very interesting with their sped up disco-rhythms. Not much is said from the stage between songs but the celebratory mood is supported vividly by the dancing routines of the two backing singers whose huge smiles shine wide on the screens to the side of the stage throughout the show. These screens are a source of some amusement during the show as well as they feature live video of the band performing intercut with what seems like some pretty random video sequences and pictures that would have perhaps seemed more fitting running continuously in the background instead. The encore gives us another hit single in "Rio" but even though the show beckons lots of dancing, the performance is very glossed and machinery-like in its execution, and overall the show never ascends to a higher level. [7½] LF

Beck

Beck @ 22:30 - 00:00 on Blue Stage

It’s getting dark and it’s cold but there’s still a little Beck left to enjoy. Having received a little more attention recently because of a beef with Kanye West, it seems that during his 20 years in business Beck shows very little signs of either on his boyish face and musical wanderlust. Starting with the 1996 hits “Devil’s Haircut” and “Where It’s At” in a mashup, we quickly span the genres of blues, jazz, and rock all atop classic, muffled 90’s hip-hop hi-hats. The follow-up, “Dreams”, is the upbeat 2015 single supposedly written for Beck to have something “more lively” to play live, and it serves its purpose as the crowd erupts in disco dance moves. It still has nothing on the reaction that the slide-sampled breakthrough hit “Loser” gets: An epic anthem that has the crowd jumping for joy already at the first jangly slide guitar/sitar riff and the iconic chorus lines “Soy un perdedor! I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?” soon have the whole crowd singing along. From then on, the backdrop takes an acid stamp and so does Beck as the soundscape get weirder and weirder. The couple next to me start doing cryptic dance moves, a woman does cartwheels and generally it seems the last unreleased energy seizes its moment to leave our bodies before the long walk to a bed or the even longer trip home from the festival either tonight or tomorrow. Albeit Beck is a complete weirdo, he seems a solid and unifying touch on another great NorthSide Festival. [7½] HES

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