Pitchfork Music Festival: Saturday - live in Chicago [Saturday] (Cover Artwork)

Pitchfork Music Festival: Saturday

live in Chicago [Saturday] (2009)

live show

Welp, stretch out your commenting muscles, there is sure to be plenty of Pitchfork bashing below this review. Regardless of whether you think Pitchfork is ruining music with extreme pretension or saving it from the evils of corporate-influenced press like Rolling Stone, you have to admit that Pitchfork puts on a pretty awesome festival. From small-time bands just starting their careers (Cymbals Eat Guitars) to the biggest of the big (the Flaming Lips), Pitchfork seems to attract the hippest bands for the lowest price (90 bucks for 3 days? Sign me up). And since lo-fi/punk is hip, this year's fest saw performances from the likes of Wavves, Fucked Up, the Black Lips, the Thermals and Japandroids, all of whom have been fairly well-received here on 'The Org.' So, let's jump right in:

I arrived to the park a little late, only catching the last half of the young Satan Island musicians collectively known as Cymbals Eat Guitars. Honestly, their debut is probably my favorite release this year thus far, and I was sad that I missed songs like "And the Hazy Sea" and "Indiana." Still, for a band that just recently put out their debut, these guys handled the huge crowd fairly well. I was a little sad that the songs I heard included very little variation from their CD recording counterparts, but they were clean and error-free, so it wasn't like the group was "bad." Cymbals ended with the fan-fave single "Wind Phoenix," which was semi-lackluster, if only due to the lack of an actual horn section that gives the breakdown of the song the emotional oomph it has on the CD version. I'd give their performance about a 7/10.

Next up was a walkover to catch part of the Duchess and the Duke. Having recently gotten into `60s and `70s garage rock, I was very excited for this performance and subsequently let down when I finally got there. Having little-to-no stage presence, and a seemingly limited volume, this New Zealand garage group put on a less-than-impressive performance. This lead to me skipping out after two songs to line up for Fucked Up. (I'll give the Duchess and the Duke a 5/10.)

Look at my contribution history. Like, 60% of it is Fucked Up-related. I love this band up and down. From "No Parason" to "I Hate Summer," this band has yet to do ill in my eyes (except for the David Christmas 7". Sorry dudes.). So, naturally, I was front and center for their Pitchfork performance. I had seen the group the night before at the Subterranean club in Wicker Park with Brain Damage and Total Abuse, which was a much more fun performance for everyone involved (Damien claimed that it was better than their last show in Toronto, but perhaps the 300-pound recent dad was just making us feel good). However, their Pitchfork Performance was a little more musically interesting, as they stuck mostly to newer songs that allowed for a little more improvisation.

Set list Friday night @ SubT:

  1. Son the Father
  2. Circling the Drain
  3. David Comes to Life
  4. Twice born
  5. Litany
  6. Black Albino Bones
  7. Manqueller Man
  8. Baiting the Public
  9. I Hate Summer
  10. Crooked Head
  11. No Epiphany
  12. Police
  13. Crusades
  14. Generation
  15. Blitzkrieg Bop
Set list Saturday afternoon @ Pitchfork:
  1. Son the Father
  2. Magic Work
  3. David Comes to Life
  4. Twice Born
  5. I Hate Summer
  6. Baiting the Public
  7. No Epiphany
  8. -----
  9. Crusades
  10. Black Albino Bones
  11. Crooked Head
  12. Police
SubT: 10/10
Pitchfork: 8/10

I wandered a bit after this, catching a part of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart's set, which was better than when I saw them in Northampton MA, but still not as interesting as it could be. I think that volume helps this band a lot, and the man running the sound board at Pitchfork had enough sense to play them loud. They also debuted a new song, which sounded fantastic and made me quite excited for the band's next output. The band had more than enough time to play their entire catalog, and judging by the lack of stage banter (something Fucked Up excelled at) they probably did. I'll give them a semi-generous 7/10.

Wandering back over to the A stage, I caught all of Final Fantasy's set. Though I was not familiar with Arcade Fire member Owen Pallet's solo work, his live performance made me seek out a copy of He Poos Clouds. Pallet's set was magical, as he performed alone, using delay pedals and loops to create amazing melodies out of just a violin and a synthesizer. If you ever get the chance to see Owen Pallet perform as Final Fantasy, do it. Easily a 9/10.

Yeasayer immediately set up for their set after Final Fantasy finished, giving the crowd a very energetic and slightly psychedelic performance. I was entranced by their live show, but disappointed by their CD, which fails to encompass the livid feeling of their live show. Yeasayer is another band that you might consider going to see if the chance is bestowed upon you, regardless of how much All Hour Cymbals appeals to you. 8/10.

I took a little bit of a dinner break after this, catching glimpses of Wavves and Doom, neither of which enthralled me enough to stay for more than five minutes. After dinner I joined my friend who lined up as close to Beruit as possible. Though I find Beruit's music wonderful, they are not a group who gets much play on my iPod. It's always seemed like background music to me, something that is quaint sounding but too boring to seriously engage me. Thus, as Beruit hit their fifth or sixth song, I bolted out of the scarily immense crowd to find literal greener pastures (a place to sit). This might have also been due to the ingestion of a less-than-legal-in-the-state-of-Illinois substance prior to their set. 7/10.

My friend and I went our separate ways as she went to find a spot for the National, and I went to go see the rest of the "kind of punk" acts on the B stage. I came in the middle of Matt and Kim's set, which was entertaining as always (IS IT POSSIBLE FOR KIM TO NOT HAVE FUN? DOES THAT GIRL FROWN? WILL SHE MARRY ME?), but not as interesting as the first two times I had seen them. Matt and Kim is the kind of band that demands the intimacy only found in smaller venues, and their festival set was less about high-fives and stage dives and more about Matt + Kim being as goofy as humanly possible. Though I only caught five songs, three of them were from their most recent album, which was a pop atrocity. Still, it's always nice to hear "Lightspeed," so... 4/10.

After a short water break, I came back to B stage to see the Black Lips, who ruled. I had always thought of the Black Lips as another band that demands face-to-face time with the crowd, but having seen them a week earlier in a much smaller venue in Nashville, TN, I can honestly say that this show was much better (possibly having something to do with the substance imbibed earlier). The group was obviously very happy to be where they were, opening with a very high-energy version of "M.I.A.", at the end of which guitarist Ian Saint Pé went ahead and smashed his guitar. First song. Guitar smashed. This might let you know what the rest of the set was like. Opting to play fairly evenly from all their albums, the band really hit "the best of the best." Occasionally gross, disjointed and punk, and occasionally well-crafted and very pointed, the band used bursts of noise and drone to really remove their songs from their recordings and play very unique versions of every song in the set. Before the band's finale (which consisted of their two best songs IMHO) Ian Saint Pé pointed out that the day's festivities were over in a unique way, saying, "I'm not 'endorsing' anything here, but there's two ways you can go out: their way or your way. Now if you all do something at the same time, they can't stop you. You come up here as a group and they can't do nothing. BUT, if only one or two or three of you try to come up here, you're getting thrown out. I'm just sayin'...". The band than launched into a fairly passionate version of "Bad Kids," during which about 15 kids made it on stage, and many other tried to make it up by crowd-surfing. Transitioning flawlessly into "Juvenile," the band left me in high spirits when my jumping on various persons' backs finally paid off as I was lifted into the air during the last verse. How does a 6'7" 240 lb. dude get crowd surfed? I don't know. It just happened. It was awesome. 10/10.

Set list:
  1. M.I.A.
  2. Sea of Blasphemy
  3. Drugs
  4. Again and Again
  5. Dirty Hands
  6. Katrina
  7. (a cover of some sort I think, not really sure)
  8. Cold Hands
  9. Hippie Hippie Hoorah
  10. Not a Problem
  11. Short Fuse
  12. Fairy Stories
  13. Buried Alive
  14. Bad Kids
  15. Juvenile
Overall, a great day at Pitchfork Festival. Maybe someday I'll tell you kids about Sunday...