If you had randomly wandered into Brooklyn’s vintage community center/bar/venue/Polish grub spot the Warsaw on Friday night, you might assume some Marty McFly shit had gone down and you were back in the VFWs and Elk’s Clubs you used to frequent in high school before Dad took you to a dead end street to teach you to drive like a true suburbanite. The air was damp with pubescent hormones and purse-swindled vodka; the walls were decorated with strange mirrors and faux wood paneling. And the crowd was young—I stepped in a pile of vomit before 9pm, which can only mean high schoolers were in close proximity. So it goes with all ages shows, such as the Captured Tracks label showcase at this year’s Brooklyn-centric Northside Festival.
As far as I know, the scheduled Wild Nothing DJ set didn’t happen, though I saw the band’s frontman Jack Tatum wandering around the venue with a styrofoam plate of pierogies and kielbasa, so maybe I just missed it. Captured Tracks label head Mike Sniper soundtracked the time between sets, playing Prince, Tom Tom Club and other nods to the ’80s. The time machine vibe extended to the night’s lineup, which leaned towards gooey synths and washed-out vox, as is the Captured Tracks’ way.
New Jersey-based shoewave band Donovan Blanc had just started playing when I arrived. Standard dream-pop sprinkled with a self-important black turtleneck aesthetic, they sounded tight and crisp, but didn’t really move on stage. And the singer was acting like a pretentious fool, asking the crowd how his bowl cut looked and being a generally off-putting human. But (full disclosure) one of my very good friends plays in their live band, and so it was a delight.
North Carolina-by-way-of-Georgia band Axxa/Abraxas came next, jerking the energy level up to oxygen tank levels. They hopped around stage like a posse of crazed backwoods goblins, all long hair and baseball caps. The crowd loved them; they loved themselves; it was, probably, the most fun set of the night.
In between Axxa/Abraxas and New York-by-way-of-Uruguay sun-garagers Juan Wauters, I was upstairs in some room full of empty beer bottles where all the musicians were loping around. Waters and his two bandmates were off in a corner writing down potential band names for the night. “How do you feel about Juan Wauters And The Fruit-Makers?” they asked me. I said it sounded like a winner, but unfortunately they never put this new moniker in motion during their set. Wauters’s stage set-up was the most complex of the night, with various hanging flags and distractingly unpredictable lighting. Overheard in the crowd: “He doesn’t care what his guitars sound like, it’s amazing.”
Following that, Craft Spells took a much more minimal approach, with filtered blue lighting and subdued tracks from their recent LP, Nausea, like the gauzy title track and the silk pillow slumber of Komorebi. Justin Vallesteros and crew encored with two cuts from 2011’s Idle Labor: The Fog Rose High and Party Talk.
Beach Fossils closed out the night. I think they live in the neighborhood, despite not having played in New York much since last fall. The room was packed and the crowd was appreciative of the homecoming of sorts, bobbing their by now well-worn heads to cuts like Generational Synthetic from last year’s Clash The Truth. If you’re not a Beach Fossils fan, their puffy space-garage probably wouldn’t have been enough to keep you upright for the fifth set of the night, but that didn’t seem to be the case for much of the crowd—even the ones who had puked up their dinner hours ago.