Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn’s most sought-after music festival returns for 9th year

November 1, 2016 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A BEMF logo is painted on a Brooklyn sidewalk. Photo by Tiffany Rexach
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Dust off those dancing shoes, because the ninth annual Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival (BEMF) is making its triumphant return to the borough this weekend.

Since its inaugural year in 2008, BEMF has slowly but surely established itself as one of Brooklyn’s most sought-after independent music events. What started as a small one-off party in a bar along the Gowanus Canal has evolved into a 10-day festival featuring dozens of musicians, panel discussions and art shows.

The uniquely Brooklyn-grown festival, which takes place from Nov. 4-13, strives to not only showcase established musicians, but also to expose the borough’s up-and-coming artists from “niche sounds and scenes to stalwart representatives.”

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The event will take place at several venues across the borough, including Good Room in Greenpoint, the enigmatic deep house shrine Output in Williamsburg, Analog BKNY in Gowanus, Trans-Pecos in Bushwick and the Music Hall of Williamsburg, as well as the Knockdown Center in Queens. And for the audacious festivalgoers, there will be several warehouse after parties lasting well into the morning at to-be-announced locations.

“We believe that Brooklyn has a very special vibe,” BEMF representatives wrote on the festival’s website. “It has grown into one of the most important dance music cities in the world, and we love making it our home. We think there is something really special about grabbing one wristband and running around the streets of Williamsburg, Bushwick and Red Hook and being able to experience the people you meet on the sidewalk next to a big speaker in the club or at the food truck parked on the corner. It’s a true Brooklyn way of life.

“That’s not all, though,” the statement continues. “We have worked hard to make sure all of our talent is connected to our city. They may not all hail from here, but they may have had their first gig here, have a label here or have friends and family here.”

In addition to hosting shows, the event organizers hope to forge discussions about how the city’s music scene has evolved over the years and what the future holds.

“There’s more of a discussion that happens during these shows than at the bigger festivals that are 30-, 40-, 50,000 people,” festival Co-Owner Jen Lyon told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I don’t know how much we’re all out there discussing the music at those larger festivals. I hope that [BEMF] is about living your life in music, thinking about it and being thoughtful about it.”

As for the lineup, gracing the turntables will be Kerri Chandler, Levon Vincent, The Black Madonna and Benji B, among many others.

In addition to the music performances, the festival will feature movie screenings and panel discussion at Kinfolk in Williamsburg. Panel topics include how artists are booked and what it takes to put a panel together. The events at the Knockdown Center will, according to Lyon, combine both musical and visual art elements.

Lyon, who has lived in Brooklyn for 19 years, discussed how she has seen the borough’s music scene change firsthand and the inspiration for starting BEMF.

“There are different ways of partying, different kinds of folk, different socio-economic levels,” Lyon told the Eagle. “For a long time in Brooklyn, there was a whole bunch of artists living here because that was what everyone could afford. Now, Brooklyn has really changed, so it’s hard for artists to live here. If the artists can’t live in New York, whom are we pulling from?

“As for the inspiration, the festival just started because Brooklyn was figuring itself out, like what the scene was going to be,” she continued. “Obviously, it has changed because locations change as Brooklyn changes. Because it’s a city-based festival, in a way, it’s grown as the scene has grown more.”

For more information, to buy a festival pass and to see a full schedule of events, go to

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