Sleater-Kinney and Courtney Barnett were the highlights of the 2015 Pitchfork Music Festival for me — no big surprise, considering how much I’ve liked their records and past live shows. Headlining on Saturday night, Sleater-Kinney once again showed that it’s one of the most powerful rock bands playing today. And when Barnett played on Sunday afternoon, she looked like she was having a hell of a good time, cranking out some searing guitar riffs and solos even as delivered her witty observational lyrics with clarity and humor.
My assignment at this year’s Pitchfork (July 17-19 at Union Park) was taking photos for Voltaren Online. And I ended up photographing all but a few of the musical acts — which meant that I bounced around between the stages, often catching half a set here and half a set there. So it would be unfair for me to be too definitive with my reviews of all those artists.
I’ll just say I was impressed with the loping, languorous grooves of Chicago singer-guitarist Ryley Walker’s group; the ferocity of Bully; the meditative hum of Bitchin Bajas; the spirited bounce of the Julie Ruin; the arty post-punk of Viet Cong; the energy of Run the Jewels; and the range and musicality of Chance the Rapper’s hip-hop. The New Pornographers’ harmonies were as catchy as usual, despite the lack of Neko Case and Dan Bejar. Promotmartyr and Parquet Courts sound as strong as usual. I enjoyed what I heard of Steve Gunn, Iceage, Mourn and Ought, but wish I’d had to chance to hear more. I’m still not sure what to make of Ariel Pink, and Chvrches’ pop hasn’t won me over yet.
On Friday night, Wilco devoted the entire first part of its set to the group’s new album, Star Wars — which was released as a free download the previous night, surprising even Wilco fans. I’d already listened to Star Wars a few times before the concert, but the music still felt unfamiliar in concert. Not a bad thing. This certainly wasn’t a typical Wilco show, but the band played more recognizable hits in the second half of the concert.
The most memorable moment came on Saturday afternoon, in the midst of Ex Hex’s set, when a heavy downpour of rain forced Pitchfork to make the announcement that the festival was closing and everyone had to leave the park. Some confusion ensued, but a short time later, the gates reopened and most of the audience returned. The storm left puddles and mud, but by the end of the day, the weather was quite pleasant. And even though there were a few stretches of music over the weekend that I found either dull or annoying, the festival as a whole turned out to be a pretty good time.
As an easy way of supplying my photos for the A.V. Club, I posted them in these Flickr albums:
My photos of the Chicago band Twin Peaks’ performance on Saturday, July 19, in Union Park during the second day of the 2014 Pitchfork Music Festival. (My review of the set is Voltaren Non Prescription Sunglasses — it was one of my favorites from the fest.)
It’s hard to believe I’d never seen Beck in concert until last night, when he headlined the first night of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park. I’ve been a fan of his music, in all of its perplexingly diverse forms, for many years but somehow never managed to catch his live act. Last night was a great time to see him. I was thinking it might be a downbeat, morose show, matching the mood on his new album Morning Phase, but it was quite lively and energetic, with Beck and his bandmates bouncing around the stage right from the beginning. I wrote a Voltaren Kostenlos Online. And here are some photos I took — from the crowd instead of my usual spot in the photo pit. To enter the photo pit, photographers were required to sign a form that gives Beck the right to use our photos for free. No thanks to that.
My photos of Neneh Cherry performing her second U.S. concert (and her first in this country since 1992) — on Friday (July 18), the first day of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park. She was accompanied by RocketNumberNine. Her show was one of the highlights of the day for me. The Super Kamagra Online Kaufen has more of my photos from the first day of Pitchfork, along with a few reviews by me plus more by Keidra Chaney and Kenneth Preski. More to come…
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.
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.
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.
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 had to listen — and then loud again.
…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.
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 Cialis Thailand Online 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.
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 criticBenicar Prescription 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.”
The big story of the 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival was Sunday’s performance by the hip-hop group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (also known as Odd Future or OFWGKTA). Pitchfork’s decision to book this outfit sparked controversy, since Odd Future’s lyrics are pretty much a nonstop barrage of misogyny and violence. But hey, it’s got a good beat, right? During its midafternoon show, Odd Future delivered exactly what its fans were hoping for and its critics were lamenting. Band members jumped off the stage into the arms (or onto the heads) of their fans in the mosh pit … who were lifting their middle fingers into the air and crowd-surfing with reckless abandon. One person after another got pulled out of the crowd by the security staff (and kudos to those guys for dealing so well with a difficult and potentially dangerous situation). The audience sang and rapped along with a good many swear words and chants about killing police and causing various other sorts of mayhem. Most of the crowd seemed to be having a great time (although there must’ve been some people unhappy about getting crushed), and it’s doubtful many of them will go out today and do any of the bad stuff Odd Future was singing about. It all made for an exciting spectacle, but if you paused for two seconds to think about the foul lyrics, it was also unsettling.
Odd Future grabbed the most attention on Sunday, but the musical highlights for me were the Fresh & Onlys, Yuck, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Superchunk, Deerhunter, HEALTH and TV on the Radio. As for the other bands, I either didn’t hear enough to weigh in with much of an opinion (see: Darkstar, How to Dress Well, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti) or it just wasn’t my cup of tea (see: Baths, Toro Y Moi, Cut Copy).
For that matter, I must confess that I was able to catch only a couple of songs by HEALTH before I had to hurry over to the line for the TV on the Radio photo pit, so I can’t really review that set, but what I did see was damn impressive, full of energy and creativity.
I’ve seen some folks remarking that Yuck’s performance fell flat for them, but I loved hearing the loopy guitar riffs and catchy vocal melodies from Yuck’s self-titled debut album (one of the year’s best) lifting up into the hot summer air. The band is still a little bit lacking as far as looking engaged onstage, but they’ve loosened up a bit since they played at Lincoln Hall this spring.
Superchunk was in no need of loosening up — when they played last year at the Taste of Randolph, singer-guitarist Mac McCaughan bounced around and jumped all night. He was at it again at Pitchfork, and if anything, bassist Laura Ballance was even more jumpy as the band cheerfully pounded out one great power-pop tune after another.
Kurt Vile can sound like a folk-rocker, with some touches of Bob Dylan in the way he writes and sings, but when he’s backed by his band, the Violators, the music has more of a droning, almost garage-rock edge to it, and that blend sounded wonderful Sunday afternoon, as the wind whipped around Vile’s long mane of brown hair.
Deerhunter also delivered a solid performance (some of which I missed, alas). The band seems to be getting even better than it was when it made its debut at Pitchfork a few years ago, and the songs from last year’s Halcyon Digest album rang out strong and clear.
Before the headline shows each night of the festival, photographers were required to line up near the press entrance on the northwest corner of the park. On Saturday, around the corner from where we were standing, I heard a drummer on the sidewalk, just out of view, playing some jumping, jazzy rhythms. On Sunday night, he was playing outside the park again, but this time I got a chance to see him and drop a dollar in his basket. His name’s Jeff Austin, and his talent and inventiveness as a drummer were immediately clear. “You should be playing in there,” I told him, pointing to the park. “I’m working on it,” he said.
TV on the Radio fit the profile for a Pitchfork Fest headliner: a band with lots of critical cred as well as a big fan base. The group’s most recent album, Nine Types of Light, is somewhat lackluster, but the band still sounded vibrant in concert Sunday night, especially when it stuck with the bolder and more uptempo songs from earlier records. “Wolf Like Me” got the crowd moving and singing along, as you’d expect, and then the Pitchfork fans responded enthusiastically when TV on the Radio offered an unexpected cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” As one of today’s bands paid tribute to an older generation, it felt like a fitting end to another Pitchfork Music Festival.
The 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival ran the musical gamut — from the softest and prettiest music to the loudest and most aggressive. And sometimes, the contrasting musical styles could be heard simultaneously, thanks to the sound bleed of noise from one stage wafting through the hot summer air to the other end of the park.
As the day began, the hip-hop of Crissy Murderbot and MC Zulu intruded on the lovely harmonies of one-woman choir Julianna Barwick. Thankfully, if you were close enough to the “Green” stage, Barwick’s sublime voice overpowered everything else, as she used looping to build so many layers of vocals — it was hard to tell at time if it was four parts of harmony or 25. It was a beautiful benediction of sorts to begin the day with.
Other highlights Saturday included the early-afternoon set by Woods, who have released three strong albums in as many years. The latest record, Sun and Shade, features a few longer jams and even some Krautrock-style beats — and the band offered up all of that during its Pitchfork performance. Singer-guitarist Jeremy Earl sounded vulnerable with his appealingly warbly falsetto, while G. Lucas Crane, as usual, sang into a headset and manipulated sounds from tapes to add psychedelic touches to the mix. (It’s hard to tell exactly what he is doing or contributing to the band just from watching him, but he seems to be a key player in making it all work.) Woods’ folkier songs sounded nice, but the bigger jams were the best, with the guitar/tape/whatever solos shimmering out across the park.
No Age’s pummeling punk rock (also using some tape effects) got the audience at the “Red” stage revved up — lots of people seemed to be throwing their water instead of drinking it.
Also on the noisy end of the Pitchfork spectrum, the band Off! (a sort of punk-rock supergroup with members from the Circle Jerks, Burning Brides, Red Kross and Rocket From the Crypt) played punk of a more old-school variety — you could actually hear some melodies hidden inside the growls — generating a similarly raucous response, including some crowd surfing. As singer Keith Morris remarked before the set, “We are going to bring a different flavor to the party.”
The band Destroyer inspires either love or hate reactions, and that was true of its set Saturday at Pitchfork. I like Destroyer frontman Dan Bejar’s contributions to the New Pornographers well enough, but his nasal, affected vocals put me off. Bejar’s fans insist there’s some real genius in his songwriting, but I’m just not hearing it. And Destroyer’s latest incarnation, with lots of soft-rock trumpet and sax, was particularly annoying.
The reunited Dismemberment Plan was buoyant, practically giddy, during its set. The guys certainly looked like they were having a good time playing their old songs. When they stuck with the more straightforward post-punk rock, with clean guitar lines, it sounded pretty good, too. The band’s forays into hip-hop and dance music were less successful.
I was peripatetic at Pitchfork on Saturday, running from one stage to the next and trying to get photos of everyone. I wish I’d seen more of the set by Zola Jesus, who completely dominated her stage. When I saw her two years ago at the Wire Fest at the Empty Bottle, she was an intense performer, but much more contained. (Can You Buy Cialis Over The Counter In The Usa) This time, she was striding the stage in a outlandishly frilly dress and singing with force.
DJ Shadow began his set by climbing into a giant golf ball and then staying inside it for a good 20 minutes or so, with nothing apparently happening on the stage… just a scintillating musical mash emanating from inside the ball. At least, we think it was emanating from inside the ball. The problem was that he was scheduled to play at an hour when the sun was still up, so the video projections onto the sphere were almost completely invisible. After a while, the ball spun around, revealing an opening on the other side, where DJ Shadow was sitting with his equipment. He asked if anyone had been able to see any of the projections, seeming disappointed that the environment wasn’t working for the show he’d planned. He continued to play an inventive mix, but the lack of visuals was a big minus.
Fleet Foxes turned out to be an excellent act to finish the night. They’re a pretty mellow band for that headlining spot, but their smartly composed folk rock and art-rock suites had a lively, spry feel, and the audience clearly included a lot of people intimately familiar with these songs. Cigarette lighters were lofted. Up-raised hands swayed. Some people even danced. On their second album, Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes has gone almost baroque with complexity on some of its songs, and the band’s interplay on mostly acoustic instruments was as dead-on as the vocal harmonizing. A little too mainstream for Pitchfork? Maybe, but the music was some of the best heard all day.
This year’s Pitchfork Music Festival includes some reruns from previous year’s editions — such as Friday’s headliner, Animal Collective — as well as the usual smattering of new acts that have received the Pitchfork website’s stamp of approval. It’s a reasonably diverse lineup and considerably more interesting than what’s coming up later this summer at the other big summer fest in Chicago, Lollapalooza.
In some previous years, the fest’s first day featured a theme, such as bands performing albums in their entirety or playing songs requested online by fans. This time, it was just a Friday full of music, with the show starting mid-afternoon. EMA (aka Erika M. Anderson, former member of the Gowns) got things off to a good start with her band’s set, which built from quiet verses to louder moments — not loud choruses or solos, so much as instrumental passages when the volume of the guitars and violin and drums went up, with Anderson showing a wakening sense of urgency, lifting up her guitar or kicking. For her last song, Buy Norvasc Amlodipine 5mg Generic she put down her guitar and chanted to the crowd, almost like Velvet Underground-style spoken word, to dark, doomy string accompaniment. It was an odd mismatch with the rest of EMA’s music.
Tune-Yards (aka Merrill Garbus) was one of the day’s highlights, agilely reconstructing the complex, quirky layers of her studio recordings with assistance from three backup musicians, some looping pedals, a ukulele and her strong, brassy voice. Her latest album, W H O K I L L, has been praised by some critics as one of the year’s best records. As a live act, Garbus seemed like she was having a lot of fun. Making that complicated music wasn’t work for her — just a cool game. Her face often took on the intense look of someone screaming in anger, but then she would flash a disarming smile. And when the clattering percussion cut out in some passages, allowing her voice to come through almost a cappella, you could feel its strength.
In one of the scheduling conflicts that can drive music fans crazy, Tune-Yards was playing at the same time as Battles was across the park; I caught some of each set. Battles seems to have survived the departure of its multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Tyondai Braxton just fine. The emphasis was still on tricky time signatures, a sort of indie-rock version of math rock.
Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, who recently released a mostly acoustic and mostly mellow album, Demolished Thoughts, played a, yes, acoustic and mellow set of his solo music. “You guys want to hear songs about rape, incest and carnage?” he asked sarcastically just before playing alongside a harp and a violinist. “We’ll do the best we can.” If anything, Moore’s set was a little too lulling for the festival scene, but it’s a fascinating musical exercise to hear the sort of droning chords and alternate tunings he plays with Sonic Youth with all of the noise stripped away. Some of the songs feature just a small smattering of vocals, more like haiku than typical rock lyrics.
The reunited “classic” lineup of Guided By Voices — that is, to say, the version of the band that played on classic records such as Bee Thousand — played a set of greatest hits mostly from that era. Neko Case joined the band on harmony vocals on the first song of the set, “Echos Myron.” Robert Pollard already seemed to be fairly sloshed as the band began playing — although I heard another GBV fan remark that he seemed less drunk than usual. Either way, he was right on target with his singing of all those fantastic lyrics, even if he wasn’t at his sharpest with the kicks and jumps and microphone twirls. This lineup of GBV is apparently going back into retirement soon, but Pollard continues to be prolific with solo albums and other projects. And it will be a surprise if GBV doesn’t surface again in some form. Friday’s made a good case for keeping the band going until the end of the universe.
With her usual casual and unassuming air, Neko Case beautifully sang a strong set of songs, mostly drawn from her last couple of albums, plus a couple of new ones. Judging from that evidence, it doesn’t sound as if she’s going to make any dramatic change in her style of music on her next record — which is perfectly fine, considering how staggeringly great her last couple of albums have been, proving that she’s not just a fabulous singer but also a true poet of musical and lyrical form. Case’s band and harmony vocalist Kelly Hogan know exactly how to provide the perfect accompaniment for her. It was not only a joy to hear Case’s and Hogan’s voices blending, but also the way Jon Rauhouse’s pedal steel guitar sounds like a plaintive human cry, a third voice entering into the harmony.
And then came the headliner, Animal Collective. This band has played some interesting music over the years, and its 2008 performance at Pitchfork wasn’t bad. As I noted back then: “Nice trance vibe, though I wish it had taken off into higher realms.” This year, Animal Collective’s attempts at creating a trippy ambience just fell flat. The psychedelic visuals on the big video screens failed to distract from the fact that the songs had taken on an almost grating edge.
Survived another Pitchfork. Three days of indie rock and a few assorted other things under the hot sun in Union Park. Running back and forth between photo pits, darting through throngs of sweaty music fans sprawled out on blankets or bouncing up and down. Trying to hear a little bit of everything and missing a little bit of almost every show.
I’m writing a full review of Pitchfork for the fall issue of Doxycycline Nhs Prescription — imagine that, a review you have to wait to see in print. So I’m not going to post everything I have to say about the festival here. But here are a few thoughts. Make that: dashed-off thoughts.
Overall, it was a pretty good festival with several strong sets, but also a number of tepid musical performances. For me the high points included the Saturday headlining set by LCD Soundsystem and Sunday’s festival-closing greatest-hits reunion show by Pavement. The latter was a pure nostalgia trip, but a new generation of Pavement fans deserved a chance to see the band playing these songs, and the group delivered.
Lightning Bolt was an amazing jolt of energy in the middle of the afternoon Sunday, an almost nonstop assault. The rhythms were so strong that it seemed to win over even people who might not normally go in for such noisy music.
St. Vincent was as brilliant as ever. Broken Social Scene once again proved why I like them better in concert than I do on record. Cave played a terrific set of its Krautrock-influenced tunes, showing they’re one local band that definitely deserved a spot in this festival.
Titus Andronicus was another one of my favorite parts of the weekend, with a raging sense of passion. I also enjoyed: Wolf Parade, the Tallest Man on Earth, Sharon Van Etten, Liars, Netherfriends, Sonny & the Sunsets, Kurt Vile, Smith Westerns, Alla, Girls and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Sleigh Bells were highly entertaining for the two songs that I was able to see before rushing over to the Pavement photo-pit line. (And getting pictures of Sleigh Bells and Pavement was why I barely saw any of Big Boi’s show, though other photogs managed to pull off that hat trick.)
Real Estate was so-so, showing the most potential in its instrumental passages. Best Coast sounded good for a couple of songs, but needed to vary its sound. Local Natives showed good energy, but that didn’t elevate their somewhat bland songs. Beach House’s songs were pretty but lethargic.
I like Here We Go Magic’s records, but didn’t get a chance to hear much of their live set. The same goes for Cass McCombs.
Panda Bear seemed to bore and/or annoy just about everyone. I’m sure some Panda Bear fans would disagree, but they were in the small minority inside Union Park. He was also boring to watch. The photographers had permission to stay in the pit for three songs, but some started leaving before the first song was over, when it became clear Panda Bear was barely animated.
Another bore was Modest Mouse, Friday’s headliner. I’ve never been a big fan, and the band once again failed to win me over, sticking with the same tired sound for song after song.
As I’ve confessed in the past, I’m not the best judge of hip-hop, so it’s hard for me to say how true fans would rate the sets by El-P, Raekwon and Big Boi.
The same goes for a lot of electronic dance and pop. Major Lazer certainly got the park dancing with its antics and that insistent beat, so that seems like something of an accomplishment.
Robyn was entertaining to watch, and her pop songs were a pleasant enough way to pass an hour. Other dance bands at the festival, Delorean and Neon Indian, excited a lot of folks but didn’t strike me as all that inventive. LCD Soundsystem trumped them all with songs that were both smart and fun.