15 Northside Festival shows you don't want to miss

Your guide to the music fest, which takes over Williamsburg and the rest of Brooklyn (June 12–15)

Sure, there’s a deluge of concerts in Williamsburg on any given weekend, but Northside—now in its sixth year—one-ups the usual offerings with outdoor shows, film screenings, and smartly curated lineups dotted with debuts and rare gigs, spanning more than 30 venues.

The fest’s 400 acts skew heavily toward indie rock, but look closer and you’ll also find hip-hop (Brownsville rapper Ka), noise (earsplitting power-electronics project Pharmakon) and metal (doom outfit Pallbearer). Here are 15 key shows to see.

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten Photograph: Dusdin Condren

Sharon Van Etten
Brooklyn's own Sharon Van Etten plays a string of sold-out shows in support of her exceptional fourth album, Are We There. On top of boasting ace singing, songwriting and guitar-playing skills, the lady's got some jokes up her sleeve; expect laughs squeezed in between her heartrendingly raw tunes. Bowery Ballroom; Thu June 12

Pallbearer + Hull + Planning for Burial + Yellow Eyes + Vilkacis
Pallbearer—an epic and strangely uplifting Arkansas doom crew preparing to unleash its hotly anticipated second LP, Foundations of Burden—headlines this gig, which also features one of NYC's best underground metal outfits, Hull. Club Europa; Thu June 12

Luke Temple and Jim White + Laura and Greg + Eastern Midwestern + Retail Space

Luke Temple, frontman of Brooklyn art-pop faves Here We Go Magic, collaborates with drummer Jim White of freewheeling Australian instrumental rock trio Dirty Three. We're intrigued to say the least. Union Pool; Thu June 12

Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley Photograph: Darren Bastecky

Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires + Mac DeMarco + Benjamin Booker
Daptone-abetted song man Charles Bradley, a showstopping performer with a searing, James Brown–esque rasp, visits House of Vans for a gig with Canadian singer Mac DeMarco, who peddles pouty, surreally stylized lo-fi pop in support of a brand-new disc, Salad Days. House of Vans; Thu June 12

Titus Andronicus + Eagulls + D'NT + Low Fat Getting High
The young punks in Titus Andronicus craft meaningful, epic records with an abundance of cultural references and even more bite. To wit, the band has announced plans to release a 30-plus-song rock opera later this year. Warsaw at the Polish National Home; Thu June 12

War on Drugs + Woods
The Brooklyn freak-folkies Woods perform from their excellent Dead-indebted LP With Light and with Love, supporting the similarly hypnotic and jammy War on Drugs, whose Lost in the Dream channels the holy trinity of Dylan, Petty and Springsteen. 50 Kent; Fri June 13

Operators + Little Big League + Motion Studies
Dan Boeckner, a songwriter with an impressive track record (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and Divine Fits), heads Operators, a new group in its NYC debut. Baby’s All Right; Fri June 13

Perfect Pussy

Perfect Pussy Photograph: Drew Reynolds

Perfect Pussy
On the heels of Say Yes to Love, a whirlwind debut that encapsulates its beatific onstage urgency, Syracuse noise-punk crew Perfect Pussy plays a pair of gigs in one night: an early show at Knitting Factory and a second at Saint Vitus, in which it headlines a solid lineup that features urgent post-shoegaze types Hop Along, postpunk troopers Pleasure Leftists and antifolk singer Frankie Cosmos. Knitting Factory + Saint Vitus; Fri June 13

Mas Ysa + Torn Hawk + MTT
As Mas Ysa, composer Thomas Arsenault croons over electropop beats that veer from sensual and airy to anthemic and propulsive. Knitting Factory; Sat June 14


Beirut Photograph: Kristianna Smith

Beirut  + Ratking + Malang Jobarteh
Balkan-folk outfit Beirut comes out of hiding to play a rare show with two eclectically paired openers: rap crew Ratking and kora musician Malang Jobarteh. 50 Kent; Sat June 14

Thee Oh Sees + The Blind Shake + King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
Psych-punk vet John Dwyer visits NYC for the first time since trading a souped-up backing band for a stripped-down power-trio format. McCarren Park; Sat June 14

Courtney Barnett + Benjamin Booker
Fast-rising Melbourne singer-songwriter and guitarist Courtney Barnett crafts shambling garage pop with a healthy dose of ’60s-era folk, as heard on her recent The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. Music Hall of Williamsburg; Sat June 14

Marissa Nadler + Pharmakon + Youth Code + Pyrrhon + Couch Slut
Haunting Boston singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler, one of the more gifted artists to fly through the alt-folk galaxy, heads up a powerhouse bill that traverses harsh electronics (Pharmakon), gothy industrial (Youth Code), demented death metal (Pyrrhon) and lumbering noise rock (Couch Slut). Buckle up. Saint Vitus; Sat June 14


Chvrches Photograph: Christina Kernohan

Chvrches + The Range + Hunters
It's easy to see why Chvrches was one of the most heavily hyped bands of 2013: The coed Scottish trio's swooning, Prince-meets–Kate Bush synth-pop, captured on exquisite singles such as "The Mother We Share," is an irresistible sonic confection. The group returns for a free-with-R.S.V.P. show after a sold-out three-night run at Terminal 5 earlier this year. McCarren Park; Sun June 15

Fuck Buttons + Lichens + Odonis Odonis
British duo Fuck Buttons does something extraordinary with its electronic, instrumental music: It’s as emotionally involving as it is physically stirring. This is powerful, ecstatic stuff, designed to move your ass as well as stir the mind. Warsaw at the Polish National Home; Sun June 15