Friday, July 25, 2014

Some Music I Liked At Pitchfork


Pitchfork Music Festival

After a pit-stop in Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday night to see Sharon Van Etten on the University of Wisconsin Madison Memorial Union Terrace (quite the title, quite the view), we forged our way on to Chicago, through horrible traffic, to Pitchfork's annual music festival. After dropping off our things in Wicker Park, we walked the two miles (as we did every day) to Union Park in time to catch Sun Kil Moon, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks and Beck. I won't bore you with a list of everyone we watched last weekend, but below I've highlighted a few of my favorite moments.

Music aside, Wicker Park is filled with like-minded folks in their 20s and 30s, for the most part, and we did our fair share of early-morning and late-night neighborhood sightseeing. We paid for overpriced (albeit delicious) gourmet donuts, took in a farmers market and debated whether or not it was worth it for me to buy a tiger print shirt (I didn't, and it's cooler than you think). At the festival, each of us bought prints at the Flatstock poster sale (I opted for this bright tUnE-yArDs print), I snagged an album at the record fair, and we all got free haircuts!

All-in-all, it was a pretty chill weekend. Limiting the festival to three stages allows for you to witness most artists. And because there are so many new or emerging artists, most of the festival attendees are pretty laid-back, willing to listen to whoever you put in front of them. Not to mention you could subsist on shade trees and free handouts all weekend - things like Chipotle tacos, KIND bars, Hostess snack cakes, suntan lotion, frozen Kefir bars, etc.).

Alright, enough chatter, here's who I loved last weekend:

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Photo: Robert Loerzel

New Favorite: Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks had quite the coming out party in their hometown of Chicago. From what I can tell, they're a group of dudes in their early 20s and this was the largest audience they'd ever played for. They kicked off Saturday at the park, and as you can see above, one of their members performed entirely from a wheelchair to ease the burden on his broken foot (it probably would have been more punk rock to hobble on it and stage dive like Tyler, The Creator did in 2011).

Throughout their set, each of their three frontmen alternated taking lead vocals and they captivated the crowd from the moment they struck their first chord. We stood safely to the side while the local youths started a mosh pit (it also saved us from being hit in the face by the smashed guitar one member threw into the crowd), but that didn't stop us from feeding off their frenzied energy.

Their new record, Wild Onion, comes out in August.


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Photo: Chandler West

Old Favorite: Beck

I didn't know what to expect from Beck. He's been a staple of the alternative rock scene for almost 30 years. And his records cover a pretty wide range of styles, which is impressive for someone with a moderately limited vocal range. But career opinions aside, this dude knows how to put on a great show. For casual fans, he played every hit you'd want to hear. And for me, he played "Debra" - at least I assumed it was just for me.

The background graphics were stunning and his band was a mixture of wildly talented musicians and dudes with quirks just as charming as Beck's. If you're a mild fan of Beck and a major fan of bizarre undulating dance moves, don't miss an opportunity to take in his show.

"Debra"


All Apologies: Neutral Milk Hotel

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Photos: Anam Merchant and Jessica Tezak

Best Consumed Live: Deafheaven and Perfect Pussy

Typically you won't catch me listening to much metal or lo-fi noise-rock. But at an outdoor music festival, you'd be hard-pressed to pull me away from such acts. Deafheaven, a sort of shoegaze metal band from San Francisco, California, and Perfect Pussy, a punk band from Syracuse, New York, absolutely blew my mind. The hardcore screaming of Deafheaven frontman George Clark and the all-around noise created by Meredith Graves and Perfect Pussy exit the speakers into infinite space, drowning any spectators who dare to come near in a wave of distortion. I hesitate to use the word chaos when describing Deafheaven, because their backing music is beautifully structured, but organized chaos may be a fitting term for Perfect Pussy.

If you're curious about their live acts, click here and here to witness it for yourself. But be warned, the experience you'll hear in your headphones is merely a fraction of what you'll feel in your entire body when you're there live.

"Dream House" by Deafheaven


"Big Stars" by Perfect Pussy

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Photo: Joshua Mellin

Best Set: St. Vincent

Without question, the most memorable set vote goes to St. Vincent. Annie Clark is an absolute force. Every detail of their set is meticulously choreographed, from the way Clark shuffles to her marks, to her jerky dance moves and the brief pauses as a stagehand eases a guitar over her head as she locks her arms and rigidly tilts her torso. But don't let these gimmicks fool you, she is an immensely talented musician, and the way she manipulates a guitar with such ease is mesmerizing, especially while she's writhing on the ground, or shredding on someone's shoulders over the crowd as fevered fans reach out to touch her.

And then to cap off the performance, she smashes her head in time into the bass drum before curling up in the fetal position while her band drones on. I mean - come on! Really, just look at her up there!

As I admitted a few months ago, I was on the fence about St. Vincent. But after listening to her most recent record and soaking in this performance, I'm not only off of the fence - I'm wide-eyed and sprinting after Clark as she floats on towards her home planet.

"Severed Crossed Fingers"


All Apologies: Kendrick Lamar, Beck, tUnE-yArDs

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