WILLIAMSBURG — After a year of planning for the fifth annual arts celebration, Northside co-founder Scott Stedman is just two days away from the explosion of music, film, art and technology throughout North Brooklyn — and he can't believe the magnitude the festival has reached.
"It's a transitional year for the festival and for the company," said Stedman, who also started L Magazine with his brother 10 years ago. "The support we've gotten from the community and sponsors has enabled us to make it much bigger than ever before, with a massive public expo and free shows in McCarren Park."
This year more than 350 bands and dozens of speakers, films and art exhibits will cover the neighborhood for a week, including a brand new free entrepreneurship expo called NEXT in McCarren Park.
Where to begin? Stedman, who organizes the festival's music and technology sectors, offered a few of his top concert and speaker picks.
Popular performers the Walkmen and Soulange are playing in McCarren Park in the festival's first big complimentary outdoor shows, Stedman said. By now the free tickets are sold out but people who purchase Northside badges can still get into the performances.
Meanwhile if you feel like catching a hardcore punk band's first New York show in 26 years, check out Black Flag.
Others of Stedman's favorites include Bleached, Chance the Rapper, Iceage and A Place to Bury Strangers, and a special show on a Bedford Avenue stage will feature a handful of L Magazine's top bands to watch. No matter where you end up you can't go wrong, he insisted.
"I love all the music," he said.
The brand new NEXT Expo with more than 100 start-ups is a free show in McCarren Park this Thursday and Friday. Stedman's favorites include a talk about "the blurring of retail" and technology, a discussion by the racing company Tough Mudder on how they've built their business, and a giant "Maker Village" of engineers creating projects in a space provided by Red Bull.
Stedman also reccommends a panel between the founder of the cab hailing app Uber and the city's taxi commissioner, and a panel including Facebook's famous Winkelvoss twins about virtual currency.
Northside's full list of events and ticket information are on the festival's website.