Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Day 2 Recap
Much like the first day, Day 2 of this year’s Pitchfork Musical Festival in Chicago threatened rain from early on. Sure enough, rain was what we got. Midway through Cloud Nothings’ 1:45 PM set, the skies opened up and refused to close until the performance was practically shut down by anxious sound technicians. After opening with “Stay Useless” and running through a number of similarly great cuts from this year’s Attack On Memory, the band played the album highlight “Wasted Days,” extending its already long running time well over the 10 minute mark in a vicious struggle to outlast the pouring rain. When frontman Dylan Baldi attempted to scream the song’s central mantra at the end, he realized his mic had been cut. Thankfully, the extremely supportive crowd was able to pick up the slack. There was something chillingly appropriate about screaming “I thought I would be more than this” with hundreds of other exuberant fans as we witnessed the band that we had paid to see effectively get kicked off the stage. It was oddly cathartic.
The rain continued on and off through Atlas Sound’s set, which we saw immediately after Cloud Nothings. Bradford Cox’s solo ramblings occasionally verged on formless, but songs like “Walkabout” and “Te Amo” sounded great when stripped down to their acoustic essence. After hiding in the record tent during a particularly strong downpour, we managed to catch some of Liturgy’s set on a neighboring stage just as the rain finally let up for good, only to find the field completely destroyed and tons of Liturgy fans thoroughly covered in mud. Curiously, at least half of the mud-soaked black metal moshers stuck around for Youth Lagoon, the band that I was most interested in seeing on Day 2.
Youth Lagoon’s set was everything I wanted it to be and more. Hunched over his keyboard setup looking like an elf or some other woodland being, Trevor Powers sang with intense conviction, often scrunching his face up as he sang, as if it took tremendous effort to get his words out. Touring guitarist Logan Hyde provided lucid guitar lines, while the electronic beats that power most of Youth Lagoon’s songs sounded unexpectedly pummeling. Here’s hoping the next Youth Lagoon record gets recorded in a real studio; their recorded music could really benefit from having the beefed up sound that came through in their live show.
By the time Youth Lagoon finished their somber and harrowing performance, the sun was shining and everyone seemed to be itching for some summer fun. Over on the green stage, Flying Lotus provided exactly that. We only got to hear the second half of his set, but holy shit was it awesome. In between spinning original material and making surprisingly frank admissions (“It just occurred to me that I’m drunk as fuck”), FlyLo dropped plenty of familiar samples, including a crushingly awesome version of Waka Flocka Flame’s “Hard In Da Paint,” which was an unexpectedly great way to close his set. Despite their best efforts, a subsequent 5:15 set from Wild Flag on the red stage couldn’t even come close to topping that.
Sleigh Bells, however, delivered one of the first big surprises of the whole festival. I got burnt out on Treats only about a week after first listening to it back in 2010, and I never felt the need to even listen to their new album Reign of Terror. And yet I always felt like I was missing something — like some aspect of their violently unsubtle mix of punk rock and bubblegum pop just wasn’t clicking with me. Their set on Saturday did not entirely make me a converted Sleigh Bells fan, but it did far surpass my expectations. With Alexis Krauss whipping her hair back and forth and singing/screaming with shrill intensity, Sleigh Bells certainly demanded attention during their set. This show also marked the addition of a new guitarist (who looks suspiciously like Derek Miller), delivering harmonizing leads and fat, distorted Jackson chords through his matching Marshall stacks. The Treats songs sounded great at such high volumes, although the new material left a lot to be desired. And yeah, singing along to “Rill Rill” took me back to summer 2010 in a big way.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
After Sleigh Bells, I had the choice of either heading over to the red stage for Hot Chip, walking back to blue for Danny Brown, or just camping out at green for an hour to wait for Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Of course I chose to wait it out, and I ended up getting a front row spot for Godspeed. I could hear and see Hot Chip from my spot as I waited, but I spent most of the time just mentally preparing myself for what was sure to be an exhaustive set. That assumption turned out to be correct. After opening with the lengthy “Hope Drone,” the band played the unreleased epic “Albanian” and then settled into movements from 2000’s landmark Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven. I would have loved to hear something from F♯ A♯ ∞ or the Slow Riot For New Zerø Kanada EP, but their lengthy headlining performance was still a profound and transcendent experience that I don’t think I will soon forget. I left Union Park on Saturday night as a different, probably less stable person, but I think ultimately it was worth it.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 9/16/11
Below is the playlist from Friday night’s Left of the Dial radio show, which aired from 6 to 8 PM Eastern time on WNHU. Next Friday I’m going to be playing a show at my school, which means that I won’t be doing my radio show. Remember to tune in the week after that though.
- 1. The Antlers - “Kettering”
- 2. Midi & The Modern Dance - “Ghost”
- 3. Bright Eyes - “The Calendar Hung Itself”
- 4. Suns - “Casual”
- 5. WHY? - “Light Leaves”
- 6. Giles Corey - “Blackest Bile”
- 7. Carissa’s Wierd - “September Come Take This Heart Away”
- 8. Modest Mouse - “Cowboy Dan”
- 9. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - “Mega Steve”
- 10. Slint - “Nosferatu Man”
- 11. Liturgy - “Returner”
- 12. Cymbals Eat Guitars - “Plainclothes”
- 13. Snowing - “KJ Jammin”
- 14. Ovlov - “I Got Well”
- 15. Rites of Spring - “Nudes”
- 16. The Replacements - “We’re Comin’ Out”
- 17. Hostage Calm - “War On A Feeling”
- 18. Girls - “Saying I Love You”
- 19. The War On Drugs - “Come To The City”
- 20. Sigur Ros - “Untitled #4”
- 21. Idaho - “You Were A Dick”
- 22. Morrissey - “I’m Not Sorry”
- 23. Andrew Jackson Jihad - “Big Bird”
- 24. Neutral Milk Hotel - “Ferris Wheel On Fire”
- 25. Sharon Van Etten - “Love More”
- 26. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - “To The Janitor, To The King”
- 27. The Smiths - “Oscillate Wildly”