Cropped Out: Day 2

This is my report from Saturday, Sept. 24, the second day of the 2016 Cropped Out music festival in Louisville, Kentucky. To see my report and photos from the first day, click here.

Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan

Bill Callahan’s performance was the highlight of the Cropped Out festival’s second day, Saturday, Sept. 24, in Louisville. After 7 p.m., as the sun was going down, Callahan walked out onto the American Turner Club’s deck next to the Ohio River, where a small crowd had gathered for his performance. I was sitting right in front of the stage when Callahan stepped around me, casually remarking, “Watch out. There’s a piece of cheese.” Looking down, I saw a small chunk of pizza sitting next to me. After that odd little greeting, Callahan gave a breathtakingly beautiful performance — accompanied, as he often is, by the astounding guitarist Matt Kinsey, as well as bassist Jaime Zuverza (who’d played earlier in the day with his own band, Hidden Ritual).

As they played, insects along the rivers buzzed and chirped. Boats passed by on the river. Birds flying in V-shaped formations crossed the sky overheard. Callahan remarked that the temperature was perfect. In this enchanting setting, as dusk fell, Callahan aptly sang a few songs that mentioned rivers. His set list included songs from his superb recent albums Apocalypse and Dream River, as well as covers of Grateful Dead and Carter Family songs, finishing with a few of the tunes that Callahan performed years ago under the moniker Smog. Throughout it all, Callahan sang with his typical poise, quirky sense of timing and wry humor. Kinsey coaxed incredible sounds out of his Gibson SG electric guitar, almost like a second voice duetting with Callahan.

What a transporting and unforgettable hour it was.

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Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan
Matt Kinsey, playing with Bill Callahan
Matt Kinsey, playing with Bill Callahan
Matt Kinsey, playing with Bill Callahan
Matt Kinsey, playing with Bill Callahan
Jaime Zuverza, playing with Bill Callahan
Jaime Zuverza, playing with Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan at Constellation
Bill Callahan at Constellation

SET LIST: Riding for the Feeling / Spring / America! / Easy Wind (Grateful Dead cover) / Drover / Rococo Zephyr / Walk that Lonesome Valley (Carter Family cover) / I’m New Here (Smog song) / Say Valley Maker (Smog song) / Let Me See the Colts (Smog song)

(I saw another Callahan concert two days later, the early set on Sept. 26 at Constellation in Chicago. The set list was similar, with just a few differences, and Zuverza wasn’t present. It was another wonderful performance, even if it lacked the idyllic natural environment of Callahan’s Cropped Out show.)

Cropped Out’s second day started off with an odd, jokey set by Vern — more like performance comedy art than rock concert.

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Vern
Vern
Vern
Vern
Vern
Vern

The New Zealand band Opposite Sex followed, with an intriguing performance, showing the energy of punk rock but with a variety of other influences thrown into the mix. (The group’s recent album Hamlet even includes a couple of quieter songs played on piano.)

Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex
Opposite Sex

The next band up, Felchers, hadn’t been scheduled to perform on the Spooky Beach riverside deck, but it was one of only two stages with working electricity in the early afternoon, so that’s where they ended up. This Kentucky played straight-ahead hardcore punk, growl-shouting phrases like, “Oh my, this is unsettling!”

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Felchers
Felchers
Felchers
Felchers

The Louisville band Insect Policy mixed jazzy art-rock improvisation with punk-style vocals. One of the musicians was wearing an Acid Mothers Temple T-shirt, which gave a pretty good indication of Insect Policy’s influences.

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Insect Policy
Insect Policy
Insect Policy
Insect Policy
Insect Policy
Insect Policy

Creeping Pink played dreamy shoegaze rock, with vocals that blended into the guitars. (On Facebook, the Los Angeles band calls its stuff “Tape Glam.”)

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Creeping Pink
Creeping Pink
Creeping Pink
Creeping Pink
Creeping Pink
Creeping Pink
Creeping Pink
Creeping Pink
Ancient Filth
Ancient Filth
Ancient Filth
Ancient Filth
Ancient Filth
Ancient Filth
Laffing Gas
Laffing Gas
Laffing Gas
Laffing Gas
Laffing Gas
Laffing Gas
Laffing Gas
Laffing Gas

On the Spooky Beach deck, Chicago artist Matchess (aka Whitney Johnson) performed a lovely sonic collage, with recorded sounds blending into her vocals, keyboards and violin.

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Matchess
Matchess
Matchess
Matchess
Matchess
Matchess

As I mentioned above, Bill Callahan bassist Jaime Zuverza also fronted his own band at Cropped Out — Hidden Ritual — playing dark, brooding rock that reminded me of Protomartyr and the Cure.

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Hidden Ritual
Hidden Ritual
Hidden Ritual
Hidden Ritual
Hidden Ritual
Hidden Ritual

One of my favorite bands on Saturday was Bugg, apparently from Bloomington, Indiana. Searching online, I’ve found only scant information about Bugg, other than a demo posted on YouTube. Bugg’s pop-punk was bursting with energy. At moments, the group reminded me of the Replacements, and then the guys really won me over by doing a cover of the classic Guided By Voices tune “Bulldog Skin.”

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Bugg
Bugg
Bugg
Bugg

Power, a trio from Melbourne, Australia, lived up to its name, playing metal-punk riffs with intensity and precision.

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Power
Power
Power
Power
Power
Power

After Bill Callahan’s astonishing set came a complete change of pace: the St. Louis punk band Black Panties, led by a frontman clad in a black outfit, complete with a face-obscuring mask. The crowd inside Turners Tavern went wild, setting the tone for the rest of the evening, which was marked by much moshing. All of the sets during this late portion of Cropped Out’s second day, Pissed Jeans was the most iconoclastic and unpredictable, clearly having a great deal of fun. Saturday night also featured the festival’s only hip-hop, the longtime rapper Kool Keith, who got much of the crowd dancing.

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Black Panties
Black Panties

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Black Panties
Black Panties
Black Panties
Black Panties
Kool Keith
Kool Keith
Home Blitz
Home Blitz
Lumpy and the Dumpers
Lumpy and the Dumpers
Lumpy and the Dumpers
Lumpy and the Dumpers
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans

Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, a rock band from Columbus, Ohio, that stopped playing back in 2000, was back together at Cropped Out. I recall seeing this group open for Guided By Voices in 1997, and Saturday’s performance evoked that era of indie rock. The band sounded excellent.

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Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments

Cropped Out concluded with a strong performance by the Austin, Texas, post-punk band Spray Paint. A long two days of music came to an end with a jolt of energy.

Spray Paint
Spray Paint
Spray Paint
Spray Paint

Pitchfork Music Festival 2013

See my photos of the 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival for The A.V. Club: Days 1, 2 and 3. I’ve included photos in this blog post.

Björk
Björk

For a long while now, Pitchfork has been about a lot more than indie rock. The Pitchfork website and the Pitchfork Music Festival both have a history of mixing obscure, strange and intellectual music with unabashedly mainstream pop. This past weekend, the festival put an exclamation point on that attitude by booking controversial R&B superstar R. Kelly as one of three headliners. The other two were more typical examples of the sort of music originally associated years ago with Pitchfork: Björk and Belle & Sebastian.

In theory, I like this idea of mashing Top 40 artists and DIY bands together into one musical amusement park. It pushes fans out of their comfort zones, helping them to discover artists they’ve previously ignored because of a bias toward particular genres. I’m one of those music fans who needs some pushing. Call me an indie snob … a guitar-centric elitist … a rockist. I’ve been ignoring the vast majority of mainstream music for the past few decades. The reason is simple. To my ears, most of it sounds overproduced, unimaginative and uninteresting. I realize that the sonic style of this stuff — the way this music tends to be performed and packaged — probably leads me to overlook some creative and well-crafted songs. But it feels like a chore to sift through it all to find whatever gems might be hidden in there.

So … R. Kelly? Sorry. I’ve barely even listened to the guy. What I have heard didn’t make me want to continue listening. The controversy over the disturbing criminal charges he once faced — and was acquitted of — doesn’t make me especially eager to dig any deeper into his music, either. This weekend, I was taking photos for The A.V. Club. After being allowed to take pictures from the photographers pit during R. Kelly’s first song on Sunday night, I had fulfilled my duty. And I needed to get home to edit a day’s worth of photos. So I left Union Park at that point, missing most of R. Kelly’s set. I’ll leave it up to other writers to say whether his performance was what R. Kelly fans wanted to get out of the experience. Judging from most of the comments I’ve seen, his fans rated the concert as a smashing success. From what I did hear, I doubt that R. Kelly would have made a new fan out of me.

Björk
Björk
Björk
Björk

I did stay for Björk on Friday night. There was never any doubt about that. And I stayed for every minute of Belle & Sebastian. Both of these iconic artists delivered terrific performances — the only problem being the weather alert about an approaching storm that forced Björk to end her concert prematurely, cutting a few songs off her set list. Certainly, Björk’s more recent compositions aren’t as catchy as the earlier songs, but even the less memorable tunes came off as intriguing, complex creations as she performed Friday, wearing a sparkly set of spikes on her head. The set’s emotional climax was the moment when Björk sang “I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him…” in “Pagan Poetry,” tilting her head skyward, while her choir of female harmony singers responded, “She loves him, she loves him…” And then, shortly after Björk conjured some bottled lightning with a Tesla coil, actual lightning sparked in the dark clouds overhead.

Belle & Sebastian
Belle & Sebastian

Nothing so dramatic occurred during Belle & Sebastian’s set the following night. It was, quite simply, a fun time — a lively concert packed with so many fabulous songs that it was hard to imagine how anyone could come away from it without being a Belle & Sebastian fan.

Swans
Swans
Savages
Savages
Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo

The three-day festival had plenty of other highlights for me. Woods jammed with a more Byrdsy vibe than ever. Swans droned and declaimed with frightening intensity. Savages made good on their hype. Wire started off a bit slow but finished with a strong buzz. Yo La Tengo played loud, and then quiet — so damn quiet that you 🔥 | Best Deals | ☀☀☀ Viagra Shop Online Uk ☀☀☀. You Want Something Special About Best pill? Cheap Viagra Alternatives Uk Free pills http://skillmancpa.com/?skd=Generic-Cialis-Ebay. Pill Shop, Cheap Prices. Free samples for all orders. Online Drug Shop, Big Discounts No Prescription Required. Cheap Trandate | Best Cheaps🔥 |. Your health is important. where can i buy Paracetamol Osterreich Online ,Stop Searching About Best pill !. Check More » Cheapest Viagra Online Usa Lowest prices for Generic and Brand drugs. Bonus 10 free pills, discounts and FREE SHIPPING. Cheapest drugs online - buy and Effects Of Coming Off Coumadin Can You Purchase Viagra Online http://pentian.com/?here=Order-Zovirax-Cream&4a6=ff Immediately watch, Top Quality flagyl 500 mg online pharmacy 🔥 30/48 Optional photo title 13 January http://datasciencemelbourne.com/?pot=Canine-Prednisone-No-Prescription&6e6=d6 had to listen — and then loud again.

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Foxygen
Foxygen
Foxygen
Foxygen
Phosphorescent
Phosphorescent

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead dug into its songs with fierce power. Foxygen’s flailing lead singer, Sam France, climbed halfway up the red stage’s metal support column and jumped down, as the band fell into a delightfully shambolic groove. Phosphorescent leader Matthew Houck’s voice keened with longing. Julia Holter’s music floated as she stood as still as a statue. And Waxahatchee’s songs blossomed from bedroom folk into slacker rock.

Angel Olsen
Angel Olsen (double exposure)
Low
Low
Metz
Metz

Alas, I wasn’t able to stay for whole sets by Mikal Cronin, Angel Olsen, Low and Metz, but they all sounded great for the few songs of each that I did catch. (I wasn’t there when Low closed its set with a cover of Rihanna’s “Stay,” transforming a mainstream pop song into, well, a Low song.) And I wish I’d seen more of Parquet Courts to figure out what all the fuss is about.

What else happened over the weekend? Pissed Jeans cavorted with glee. Daughn Gibson intoned with brash confidence. Trash Talk praised old people for “having us all and shit.” The Breeders fumbled. Mac DeMarco stuck out his tongue. Joanna Newsom plucked her harp and warbled, the subtleties of her songs getting a bit lost in the park.

Lil B fans
Lil B fans
Solange
Solange

I went into this Pitchfork fest with a bias toward old-fashioned, guitar-based indie rock, and I came out of the weekend with my bias intact. Still a rockist, but trying to be open-minded. Toro Y Moi’s frothy pop did nothing for me. M.I.A. put on an impressive and energetic show, but her music quickly wore me down, as it has in the past. I still have no idea what Lil B is all about, other than the fact that he has some really enthusiastic fans. Solange, Beyonce’s sweetly smiling sister, seemed to charm much of the audience. Hearing her music for the first time, it struck me as unremarkable. Maybe just not my cup of tea.

And so, when New York Times critic Jon Caramanica writes that the Pitchfork fest’s second half “served as a reminder of how dance music has become the most exciting emergent narrative in pop,” I have to wonder: What was I missing? I much preferred the weekend’s indie rock, which included, according to Caramanica, “bands in various stages of delusion and defensiveness.”

Killer Mike won me over, though. Of all the hip-hop artists I watched at Pitchfork, he was the one who had the most to say, even if his rap denouncing Ronald Reagan’s lies in the Iran-contra affair seemed oddly dated. “I want to encourage Chicago to take care of each other,” he said in one of his mini-sermons in between his raps, apparently alluding to the city’s violence. “I’d like to encourage the people of Chicago to look out for one another.” Later in his set, looking out on a Pitchfork audience that was more racially diverse than it had been on previous days, Killer Mike declared, “This is what church is supposed to look like.”

Frankie Rose
Frankie Rose
Blood Orange
Blood Orange

See my photos of the 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival for The A.V. Club: Days 12 and 3.