A Reward for the Waiting: Review of the Northside Festival and Sine Metu Stage

Julia Haltigan at Jameson Backstage provided by Ketchum

When New Yorkers are ready for summer, Northside, Bedford Avenue, and Jameson provide a glorious reward.

In 2009, when the Northside Festival started in Williamsburg, there were no drug stores, the L train was running, and the Edge had just been built.  Since then Williamsburg has acquired a Whole Foods, an Apple Store, a Flywheel, and a Crossfit box, we don’t know the future of the L train and, well, I’ll let you guess what the rent is.

In a part of town that is always changing, it’s nice that summer is always indicated in the same way:  with fake grass, a Bedford block party, and great bands.

On a scorching weekend in June, the Northside Festival and Jameson delivered a fitting reward for the waiting.  With a weekend stint with the Sine Metu stage at the Bedford Block Party, passerbys and media members were continuously rewarded for their curiosity and their waiting.

10 lucky musicians were handpicked by Cory Chisel to perform on the Sine Metu stage, prominently featured right on Bedford Ave, and also played an intimate set at the Jameson Backstage event, held this year at The Gibson.  This year’s Jameson music artists included HONEYHONEY, Eve & the Exiles, The London Souls, Cha Wa, Valerie June, J-Council, Julia Haltigan, Kristin Diable, Pickwick, and Robert Ellis.

Here are a few highlights from the Sine Metu stage and some of the Jameson artists lucky enough to grace it.

Saturday: Sweet, sweet, magic

When whiskey surges through your veins, mixes with the sunset, and touches the vibrations of an electric guitar, you’ve hit summer magic.  And you’re not sure whether HoneyHoney is a band or the words you’d use to describe this moment.  

Turns out it’s both.

On Day 1 of the Sine Metu stage and Gibson performance, curious ears were always rewarded, whether be with the harp alongside Julia Haltigan or the banjo with HoneyHoney.  They were mixed in with elements of magic, whether the notes from Julia Haltigan’s guitar floating through the Brooklyn air or J-Council playing into the afternoon haze or Jameson ‘s whiskey ice cream.

The Gibson was home base for Jameson backstage, offering signature cocktails, the above mentioned whiskey ice cream, guitar bottle openers, personal polaroid photos courtesy of roaming photographers, and of course, intimate performances, because the best thing to go along with a crafted experience is a crafted soundtrack.

Back on Bedford Ave, amongst the car2go 360 station and artwork and storytelling booths, songs from the Sine Metu stage reverberated through Williamsburg.  Suzanne Santo ‘s Grace Potter-esque vocals were a highlight, accompanied by the banjo, a top hat, and an unbeatable stage presence.  I knew we were going to see something special, and I was delighted that prediction came true.     

So, speaking of waiting, I’ll be holding out for a Grace Potter + Suzanne Santo project.   Perhaps I’ll get rewarded with a Jameson.



Sunday:  When the unknowns become known

A street show is the only place New Yorkers care about personal space.  We create an awkward 20 ft x 20 ft region at the front of the floor where no one crosses except to take a picture of the stage.  But, the benefit of this is two-fold:  1) There is more space for dancing children and 2) you can measure the success of a show by how much smaller that space gets.

In this case, both happened during Sine Metu Day 2, alongside the corn hole and bocce ball of the Bedford block party.  

I was walking alongside such lawn (or is it concrete?) games when I heard a melodic sound, and thought “Oh my god, who is this?”  

The sound turned out to be “Great Apes,” and the who was Wild Pink, a special guest on the Sine Metu stage.  Landing somewhere between dream wave rock and Jimmy Eat World, Wild Pink’s success was defined by the above filling of front space and their audience’s desire for additional songs.  “Can we do two more?” they asked honestly.  “Three more!” the audience responded.

Sunday’s sets were taken over by heat and the rock of the South.   Both Eve and the Exiles, of Austin, Texas, and Kristian Diable, of Louisiana, apologized for bringing the heat of their homelands.  Considering their rockstar outfits, distinct vocals, and energy, they were likely forgiven.  

Kristin Diable is the kind of raw and natural performer you gravitate to.  And if you happened to mosey on over, you were rewarded with wisdom.  Considering a love song, Kristen wisely shared: “If you don’t want to hear one you probably need to hear one and if you want to hear on you get to hear one.”   And about herself?  “Like the devil but better.”  And while that could have been describing the heat, we’ll leave it open to interpretation.




Until next year, I hope to embody Sine Metu, which is the Jameson family motto.  It translates to “without fear.”  May we all enjoy each other, enjoy music, and enjoy life in reckless abandon.  Cheers and Sine Metu.


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