menteparalela asked: Hi, you probably got this asked before but how was the performance and vibe of A$AP Rocky and A$AP mob @Pitchfork festival?
It was a fun set, but if you have any apprehensions about getting pushed around or shoved by rowdy people in the crowd, I’d advise against seeing them. There was a really high concentration of jerks in that crowd, and a lot of people got stepped on and trampled. Anyway, I actually enjoyed the parts of the show when Rocky was out there on his own more than the songs that the mob came out for. We had to cut out before he played the big hits to see Japandroids, but it was an enjoyable time while it lasted.
Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Day 3 Recap
I’m sorry for not posting this earlier. I meant to put it up yesterday but I didn’t get around to it. Anyway, the last day of the Pitchfork Music Festival surprised me by how great it was. My apprehension going in was not about the quality of the bands, but rather the quantity — the Sunday lineup was stacked with tons of great bands that I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch all of. Somehow, everything managed to work out nicely, and I ended up seeing more bands on this day than any other.
The day began with a 1:00 PM set by Dirty Beaches, the nostalgic rock & roll project of Alex Zhang Hungtai. Hungtai brought a silent, sunglasses-wearing guitarist along for the show, but his presence couldn’t really be felt until at least 10 minutes into the show. Dirty Beaches began with a lengthy and boring instrumental drone that they really could have done without, but once they kicked into “A Hundred Highways,” the show got a lot more interesting. Although they closed with the rollicking rockabilly number “Sweet 17,” they didn’t play either of their excellent quieter pieces, “True Blue” or “Lord Knows Best.” This was a disappointing start to the day.
As far as I’m concerned, the real kickoff to Day 3 began with the next band. Danish punks Iceage played the green stage, delivering their caustic brand of post-punk with utmost despondency. Numerous technical setbacks during their set only made the teenaged band even more despondent — It was hard to tell what they were saying due to their accents, but I’m pretty sure frontman Elias Rønnenfelt told the crowd to fuck off at least a few times. Nevertheless, the crowd ate it up. Iceage’s set incited the biggest and most intense moshpit at the festival since Japandroids’ set two days before. Iceage are frankly not an amazing band, but their set was loud and aggressive enough to get me into the pit, and ultimately that’s what matters.
Ty Segall Band
Although they didn’t surprise me quite as much as Sleigh Bells the day before, the next act definitely surpassed my expectations from them. The Ty Segall Band, who released their debut album Slaughterhouse this year after a string of Ty Segall “solo” albums, brought a rabid intensity to their live show that I only wish their album could have captured. When they played “Girlfriend,” a gem from 2010’s Melted, I couldn’t help but crowdsurf, eliciting a few surprised “It’s Intern Chris!” shouts from the audience. Damn, this band was just great. Although we missed Thee Oh Sees due to a set time conflict with Ty Segall, we headed over to the blue stage afterwards just in time to catch the second half of The Men’s set. The band performed mostly highlights from their new album Open Your Heart, including an awesome one-two punch of “Turn It Around” and the album’s title track.
The sun was beating down on Union Park by the time The Men wrapped up their set, and what other band’s music befits a sweltering hot summer day than that of Real Estate? We saw a sizable chunk of the New Jersey jangle pop band’s set from afar, and although John and I were itching to get back to the blue stage for Kendrick Lamar, it was really hard to tear ourselves away, even though I’d already seen Real Estate twice before. As it turned out, we probably could have stayed a little longer than we did; in keeping with apparent hip-hop tradition, Kendrick Lamar didn’t go on until well after his appointed set time. When he did go on, the mix was noticeably off and I found it hard to get into his set, even though I’ve really come to love Section.80. Also, Lady Gaga showed up for some reason and was hanging out on the side of the stage during Kendrick’s set. I guess that’s kind of cool.
The end of Kendrick Lamar’s set provided us with ample cool down time, so we headed over to the red stage to camp out for Beach House’s set. Although I’ve enjoyed everything that they’ve put out, I never really identified as a huge Beach House fan before their performance on Sunday. It suffices to say that their set thoroughly changed the way I view them as a band. I was blown away by the precision, the scope, and the sheer weight of their live sound, from Victoria Legrand’s majestic vocals, to Alex Scally’s lucid guitar lines, to the refreshingly real percussive sound of their newly added live drummer. Legrand’s vocals on tracks like “Norway” and 2012 song-of-the-year contender “Lazuli” particularly stood out, floating over the festival crowd like a welcome breeze under a setting sun. As great as Japandroids were on Friday, I’m tempted to say that Beach House’s set was the best out of all the performances at Pitchfork this year.
Frankly, I would have been content to have the festival end then and there, but Beach House did not close out Sunday night. That privilege was reserved for Vampire Weekend, the ludicrously popular indie pop band from New York whose first album, some might recall, is actually pretty good. Thankfully, much of their setlist was culled from that album, from which the band played every track save for “Bryn” and “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance.” The Contra hits were all there too, although they were considerably less enjoyable. The band also debuted a new song, featuring a classical guitar lead and some Elvis Costello-reminiscent vocal theatrics.
Of course, I’m not much of a Vampire Weekend fan, nor was I particularly excited about seeing them play at this festival, but I will admit that I enjoyed their set on Sunday. Standing under the night sky in a newly familiar city, surrounded by real life friends, internet friends, and people whom I didn’t know but I’m sure I would get along with, there was really nothing I’d rather be doing than singing along to “Walcott,” unironically enjoying music that I’d always thought I’d hate. Even though their set (which was full of annoying Ezra Koenig stage banter) reaffirmed everything I’ve always claimed to dislike about Vampire Weekend, I couldn’t help but have fun. I never thought that something associated with Pitchfork would actually bring out the anti-hipster within me, but that’s exactly what happened this weekend.
To check out all of my previous Pitchfork Music Festival coverage, click HERE.
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.
I crowdsurfed during Ty Segall’s “Girlfriend” on Sunday and Pitchfork photographed me doing it. Check out their full set of crowd shots from the festival HERE.
Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Day 1 Recap
The Olivia Tremor Control
The introduction. We arrived via El Train at Union Park before 3 PM, only to be met with a torrential downpour. We stood in line for upwards of half an hour, getting soaked with hundreds of other misanthropic festival attendees. Hearing that the gates were going to remain closed until 3:30 elicited a number of groans from the line, but soon enough the rain stopped and the gates were opened. Lower Dens delivered a strong set on the red stage that got more impressive and engaging as it went on. We cut out slightly early to get a decent spot for The Olivia Tremor Control — an Elephant 6-affiliated psych rock revival band from the 90s — who happened to have Neutral Milk Hotel’s Scott Spillane playing sousaphone and trumpet for them. Jeff Mangum was nowhere to be found, unfortunately. I’m still hoping for a full on NMH reunion in 2013. Before the OTC wrapped things up on the green stage, we bunny hopped one stage further to catch Willis Earl Beal on the blue stage. During the portion of his set that we caught, Beal delivered songs ranging from foot stomping, bellowing dirges to slow, heartfelt ballads. His versatility as a songwriter and his hoarse, mighty voice drew comparisons to Tom Waits, as did his affinity for liquor; Beal downed the majority of a freshly opened bottle of Jack Daniels during his set.
We felt the need to run over to the red stage once Beal finished in order to catch A$AP Rocky, but, of course, Rocky and his crew didn’t go on until well after their posted set time. That turned out to be par for the course with most of the rappers I saw at the fest, but I’m not complaining. Rocky’s set was actually pretty great, even though his crew looked a little ridiculous onstage playing hype-men (Also, who’s that one white dude? He sucks.). Unfortunately, we had to jet before we got to hear “Peso” because we wanted good spots for Japandroids. We arrived just at the end of Tim Hecker’s set, which was pretty depressing and miserable. Honestly, I like Tim Hecker on record, but I don’t think a single person there gave a fuck about him in that moment. The vast majority of the crowd was definitely there to catch Japandroids, who were supposed to play at 6:15 but ended up going on late.
Because of the late start time, Japandroids’ set was clipped to just 8 full songs. Nevertheless, it was an awesome and intense experience that will probably go down as the most enjoyable (if not the absolute best overall) set from Pitchfork 2012 for me. Plus, as both Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock prove, sometimes 8 songs is just the right number. Highlights included the opener “Adrenaline Nightshift,” which incited a mosh pit within 5 seconds of its opening chord, and the closer “Young Hearts Spark Fire,” which segued into “Sovereignty” at the end. The segue was a nice way of acknowledging the band’s older fans, many of whom recognized the deep cut.
Bruised, battered, and absolutely loving life, John and I managed to crawl our way over to the red stage just in time to catch the beginning of Dirty Projectors’ set. The setlist mostly focused on stuff from Swing Lo Magellan (which is excellent, by the way), but they also busted out some Bitte Orca art rock classics, including “Useful Chamber,” which was extremely intense live. Other highlights included the rousing new single “Gun Has No Trigger” and the gentle love song “Impregnable Question,” during which frontman David Longstreth and guitarist/vocalist/Longstreth’s girlfriend Amber Coffman seemed to be making heart eyes at each other. Mostly, I was just amazed at how tight the band was instrumentally and vocally. The four part harmonies, which are so jarring and angular on record, are equally attuned live. It’s almost scary how good they sounded.
Dirty Projectors were the last band on Friday that I really wanted to see, so after their set, John and I just hung around for a while, catching the first half of Purity Ring’s set before heading over to the green stage to catch the rest of Feist’s. I’m not a huge fan of either group, but both their sets were enjoyable. The highlight of the latter set came at the end, when Leslie Feist and her band transformed the gentle title track from 2004’s Let It Die into an arena rock-worthy power ballad. Watching from a distance, I was able to appreciate the scope of Feist’s vision, and in that moment I understood exactly why she was headlining Day 1.
Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Overall Recap
Well, that was a weekend. This year’s Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park was my first experience with a big out of state festival, and all in all it was an overwhelmingly positive one. Along with my great friend John Branch, I saw a ton of bands — many more than I actually expected to see — and immersed myself in the festival lifestyle to the extent that I genuinely felt at home as I stepped off the El Train platform each morning at the stop outside of Union Park.
Over the course of the past three days, I got the chance to see some of my favorite currently active bands perform. Many surpassed my expectations, delivering electrifying and engaging live sets, while others paled in comparison to their recorded material. Some bands even managed to surprise me with sets that far outshone their records. Overall, the performances were great, and I left the park each day viewing the music of numerous artists in a very different, more positive context.
The community at the festival was also wonderful. For the most part, the loud, snapback-wearing bros stuck to the shadows, coming out in full force only during the sets of acts with larger draws, such as Sleigh Bells and A$AP Rocky. Elsewhere, from the visceral moshpits at Japandroids and Iceage to the massive, silently adulating throng watching Beach House, the crowds were largely engaged and intentful listeners. Even though everyone was ultimately at the festival with the vague motivation of “having a good time,” the music was mostly respected. That made me happy.
Speaking of which, I must say that it was absolutely incredible and awesome (if a bit strange for me) to be approached by so many people who recognized me either from this blog or from The Needle Drop. I got to meet up with a lot of internet friends and met a bunch of new ones who appreciate my work. It’s especially funny to me because I had never been to Chicago prior to this weekend.
Anyway, in the next couple days, I’ll be rolling out recaps of some of my favorite (and least favorite) moments from this year’s festival. To view a complete list of all the bands I saw, head over to the Lewis and his Blog facebook page and check out my complete set of photographs from the festival.
Vampire Weekend. Alright, even I can get down to M79 #p4k (Taken with Instagram at Union Park)
Beach House. They added a drummer and I just fell in love with Victoria Legrande. #p4k (Taken with Instagram at Union Park)
Kendrick Lamar. Kind of disappointing. #p4k (Taken with Instagram at Union Park)
Real Estate. Vibing hard as always. Leaving to catch Kendrick Lamar soon. #p4k (Taken with Instagram at Union Park)
The Men. We arrived during “Turn It Around”… Just in time. #p4k (Taken with Instagram at Union Park)
I just stage dove during Ty Segall and overheard “It’s Intern Chris!” at least 3 times. #p4k (Taken with Instagram at Union Park)
Iceage. Their bass cab just died. It couldn’t handle the punk. #p4k (Taken with Instagram at Union Park)
Milk Music. Bringing the dad rock vibes #p4k (Taken with Instagram at Union Park)