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Photograph: Courtesy Gavin Keen

Ten must-see shows at Northside Festival

Here are ten gigs you won't want to miss, including Vince Staples, Zola Jesus and Heems

By Andrew Frisicano

Each year it seems like the Northside Festival becomes a more essential part of the summer concerts calendar. The 2015 edition brings big outdoor summer concerts by Run the Jewels, Neko Case, Best Coast and Against Me!, but there's plenty more happening too. Here are 10 other acts—some new, some local, all great—you need to see at this year's fest.

RECOMMENDED: See the full guide to Northside Festival

1. Diet Cig

Music Rock and indie

Female-fronted indie-pop duo Diet Cig hails from New Paltz, New York, plays refreshingly upbeat tunes with a pop-punk core, and sings about parties, college and boys. It’s seriously catchy stuff laced with just the right amount of twee.

Jacco Gardner
Photograph: Nick Helderman

2. Jacco Gardner

Music Dance and electronic

Young Dutch multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner does '60s-inspired baroque pop with aplomb on his sophomore album, the fanciful Hypnophobia.

Photograph: Shivani Gupta

3. The Very Best + Heems

Music Latin and world

A truly awesome—and free!—lineup. Supremely danceable duo the Very Best top the bill, but we're pyched to catch Queens MC Himanshu "Heems" Suri (pictured) in the great outdoors. His debut solo LP, Eat, Pray, Thug, expertly juxtaposes cold-blooded hedonism with scathing social commentary—and this is your chance to see how it plays at a big open air show.

Photograph: Courtesy Northside Festival

4. Fred Thomas

Music Rock and indie

Look beyond Fred Thomas's plain name, and you'll find an artful indie-pop auteur. The Michigan artist supports his latest, All Are Saved.

Photograph: Pooneh Ghana

5. Best Coast + Built to Spill + Alvvays + Bully

Music Rock and indie

Bethany Cosentino’s sun-soaked rock outfit, Best Coast, and indie-rock vets Built to Spill headline this outdoor gig, but don't miss the openers! Nashville quartet Bully (pictured) mines grungy ’90s-era indie-rock riffage with soul-purging verses, sung by frontwoman Alicia Bognanno, while Toronto's Alvvays offer deliciously melancholy jangle pop.

Photograph: courtesy of the artist

6. Against Me! + Mitski

Music Rock and indie

It's impossible to sum up the local singer-songwriter Mitski's work in a single line, but if you like your pop both sing-along–catchy and unsettlingly barbed, you need to see this classically trained performer (pictured) live ASAP. Popular Florida punks Against Me! headline this big free show in McCarren Park.

Photograph: Brock Fetch/ Blacksmith Records

7. Run the Jewels + Sleigh Bells + Vince Staples

Music Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Run the Jewels—the team-up of Definitive Jux hero El-P and bearish, quick-witted Atlanta MC Killer Mike—is a little slice of North/South hip-hop heaven, but arrive in time for Vince Staples: On his powerful Hell Can Wait EP, the Long Beach MC (pictured) grapples head-on with police violence and the hazards of hood life, painting dark portraits with an eye toward survival. Expect to hear from that and his forthcoming Def Jam debut.

Viet Cong
Photograph: David Waldman

8. Viet Cong + Girl Band


Calgary foursome Viet Cong combines Joy Divison’s postpunk jitters and booming post-rock synths to defiantly gloomy and fatalistic effect. The group landed a hit with its self-titled debut, out since January—and these sold-out gigs will be its biggest yet.

Photograph: Maggie Shannon

9. Pill


Pill’s skronking sax, groove-based songs and jagged lyrics wouldn’t be out of place in 1970s No Wave New York. Its noisy, abrasive approach also sounds right at home on Parquet Courts’ Dull Tools label, which released the group’s first EP in March.

Zola Jesus
Photograph: Jeff Elstone

10. Zola Jesus

Music Rock and indie

As Zola Jesus, Nika Roza Danilova creates unapologetically dramatic tunes that craftily balance arty texture with poppy drive. Expect to hear from Danilova's sparkling 2014 set, Taiga, and get in the mood for the show with Danilova's exclusive mix for Time Out New York.


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