Pitchfork 2010 Festival Recap

<div> <a href="features/pitchfork_2010_festival_recap/"><img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/pitchfork10recap.jpg" alt="Pitchfork 2010 Festival Recap" /></a> </div> <p> The fifth annual Pitchfork Festival, held in Union Park, Chicago, turned into a three-day heat-fest, testing the resolve...
Pitchfork 2010 Festival Recap
Pitchfork 2010 Festival Recap

Recycling StoreThe fifth annual Pitchfork Festival, held in Union Park, Chicago, turned into a three-day heat-fest, testing the resolve and endurance of indie rock fans who had been driven there by the promise of seeing and hearing quite a few of indie’s top acts, with some rap thrown in for seasoning.  Some fans decided not to attend all day but instead half a day of Saturday and Sunday because of the heat.  Three-day tickets sold out in about a week, and all three days of single tickets sold out as well.  At times the stage choices offered a battle of options that ranged between pop, rap, chill and alternative/fusion.  The heat made water and shade become valuable properties, as were cigarettes by Sunday.  However, food and water were reasonably priced, so no one was going around really deprived of necessities.

Pitchfork is a very green festival.  Biking was promoted for the festival, and generators were run on bio-diesel fuel.  Besides recycling bins attached to each trashcan in and around Union Park, there was also the Recycling Store, where people could gather used plastics, including cups, and bring them in for trade for goods including festival posters.  At the end of the festival, huge dumpster bins were filled to the brim with recyclables.  Pitchfork’s website said they were shooting for over 50% recycling for the duration of the festival.  It will be interesting to see what the results are.
look at this booty!

 

Day One

Day One

Union Park in Chicago was filling up with anxious concertgoers on a sunny Friday that was fast approaching the mid-90s. Water was being sold on the street before people even enter the park.  Inside the park, water prices were reduced from the reasonable two dollars to one dollar by the evening, and many bottles were given out free from the stage by security to the front rows.  The smell of ganja was present in the air within the first hour.

 

The Tallest Man on Earth
The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on EarthClick image for full gallery

The Tallest Man on Earth, a.k.a. Kristian Matsson of Sweden, took the stage right on time, and proceeded to tell the audience, “I am extremely jet-lagged and it’s so hot up here.”  His ruggedly handsome looks fit his role as acoustic balladeer.  His folk ballads, delivered in perfect English, sounded a lot like they could be American, especially considering one of his great influences is Bob Dylan.  There was no whine in The Tallest Man’s voice but it did occasionally get gritty.  It looked like he drew some fans in to the show today.  Many women in the audience were enamored with his music, sing along and carry his records.
The Tallest Man on Earth

 

Liars
Liars

Man at WorkClick image for full gallery

Liars took the stage by storm.  They had the highest energy of the bands of the day and were said by some to steal the show.  Their music was much louder and heavier live than on recordings, and music styles ranged from ‘60s style garage & pop to experimental.  One song had nearly no lyrics, instead just vocalizations, reminiscent of Korn’s “Twist”.  The rock and keyboard band stood up well in the heat, with one member wearing a towel draped over his head.  Singer Angus Andrew’s performance was wild and fun, his tall body dressed in ‘70s shorts and a Men At Work t-shirt.  it's hot out hereHe danced fluidly using arms and hands a lot, pointed a good bit, and shook his head in circles and back & forth.  At times, his mouth actually surrounded and enveloped the mic.  He improvised some lyrics on the spot, using sharp, high screams and an effects machine in front of his mic stand for echoes and sampling.  After announcements regarding water at the start of the show, he announced that he has a watering station in his pants for those who wanted to come up on stage.
Liars

 

Robyn
Robyn

shy Robynlaughing RobynClick image for full gallery

Robyn is a pop sensation and apparently a dance queen.  She delivered an interesting, almost ‘80s flashback performance while wearing hair that looks like a cross between Madonna and Bowie’s Let’s Dance era.  She used slightly choreographed dance moves at times, but fortunately had no backup dancers.  Her band pumped out the dance tunes on keyboards and drums while dressed in white jumpsuits.  The audience was appreciative, singing and dancing along.
Robyn's fans
Robyn #1! U.S.A. #1!

 

Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene

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Broken Social Scene brought their guitar-driven ‘baroque pop’ music to the festival with special guests from Chicago playing with the band throughout the performance, swelling the band’s numbers to nine to twelve, depending on the song.  Kevin Drew announced, “I love this city and I love this country” at the start of new song, “Texico Bitches”.  Brendan Canning (QRO interview) Andrew Whitemanwas dressed in a blue and white vertically striped tank top, while most of the band was wearing color-coded outfits of blue, white and black, and beige straw hats were the headgear of choice.  In true BSS fashion, the band tore through most of their popular songs with ease, occasionally sprinkling in new tunes.  The end song was a fairly long but interesting instrumental piece.  Guest performers were John McEntire of Tortoise John McEntire(QRO live review) and The Sea & Cake (QRO live review) on drums (producer of new album, Forgiveness Rock RecordQRO review), Paul Mertens on sax, flute, trombone, Susan Voelz on violin and Alison Chesley on cello.

 

Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse

Isaac BrockClick image for full gallery

Modest Mouse went with fog machines and traditional stage lights for its performance.  Isaac Brock’s vocals were strong, and the sound mix was perfect.  Brock used banjo on many songs, and some sort of horn and a clarinet complimented the rock instruments and keyboards.  Fans of the band seemed happy with their performance, and the band seemed very entertained by the audience.  However, the band’s biggest hit, “Float On”, was not played, which disappointed many. 

 

Day Two

Day Two

As Saturday progressed, there seem to be more people than Friday.  The temperature was in the mid-90s and there was a lack of wind in the Windy City.  Frisbee playing was happening in the dirt sports areas of the park.  This caused small dust funnels, which flew up in the air and covered everything, including people’s mouths and noses.  Water was sold for a dollar, Pepsi was two at some stands, and food was reasonably priced.  Whole Foods had a stand, providing wholesome alternatives to standard festival fare.  Shade was at a premium today.  Those watching performances at Stages A and C were at the mercy of the glaring, unrelenting sun.  This caused a bit of an oppressive atmosphere, but some claimed it was the best day of the festival.

 

Raekwon
Raekwon

RaekwonRaekwonClick image for full gallery

Raekwon took the main stage with a DJ set.  Technical difficulties delayed the show, but he kept spirits up by conversing with the audience, telling them he wanted to play some classic tunes for them.  Once things get started, he played many Wu-Tang Clan classics and kept the audience entertained through what seem like slow breaks between songs.  His casual, laid-back style complimented the laid back grooves the DJ laid down.
Raekwon's fans

 

The Smith Westerns
The Smith Westerns

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The Smith Westerns were the adventure pick of the day for out-of-towners.  The Chicago band has members that are aged between 18 to 20 years.  Although some music fans may think young bands are a The Smith Westernsnovelty or will play music not worth listening too, this band was definitely an exception.  Confidence and experience The Smith Westernswith the instruments is key to determining whether a young band is worth taking the time to see, and this band had both.  Their set list was based upon the CD already under their belts, which is filled with Nuggets-inspired pop and garage sounds, available for download via MySpace.  They had fans in the audience who sang along, although there wasn’t a lot of dancing, probably because of the heat, which there was a respite from at this side stage.
The Smith Westerns

 

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Jon SpencerClick image for full gallery

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion were full on energy.  There was no way to forget their name as they yelled “Blues Explosion” after almost every song throughout the show.  The moniker is fairly accurate, with blues primarily the groove mixed with rockabilly and garage rock.  Jon Spencer is the main focus of the trio, dynamic in performance and style.  He even wore a long sleeve shirt and painted jeans, and sounded like Elvis at times.  Spencer amazingly didn’t drip sweat from his face much at all because he was almost always moving; however, his pants became soaked during the performance.  The band’s shot of energy kept the audience energized.
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

 

Wolf Parade
Wolf Parade

Dan BoecknerClick image for full gallery

Wolf Parade hail from Montreal but make music that sounds like it’s from the post-punk music scene of New York City.  Their keyboard-driven music is a bit like Spencer KrugInterpol (QRO album review), but more accessibly danceable, airier and less dreary sounding.  It was music that fit the afternoon well, but could also be played in almost any atmosphere, whether it be car, working out, hanging out, dancing.  This is definitely a band to introduce friends to if you’re into their sound.  The audience was taken by their sound and danced along.
Wolf Parade

 

LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem

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LCD Soundsystem’s main stage lights were amazing, and so was their dance music.  James Murphy, co-founder of DFA Records and producer with looks that don’t say ‘rock star,’ is said to have a penchant to want to stop performing live, but this night he let the music take him away.  Murphy seemed a bit shy when he came onstage, but that didn’t last long at all.  Soon, he was settled in James Murphyand grooving, almost making out with the old-style straight-up mic while projecting his strong vocal range.  The live band was excellent and there were no sound or technical problems other than when Murphy had to ask for the main lights to be turned on during song one.  The music boomed through the huge bass speakers of the main stage, making many dance to the beat, even reaching across Union Park to make the Port-a-Potties shake along.
LCD fans
LCD Soundsystem

 

Day Three

Day Three

The last day of the festival was the one that sold out the quickest; perhaps because of headliners Big Boi and newly reunited ‘90s band Pavement.  There was a slight rain scare, but it turned out to be only be a strong, short shower that lasted about twenty or thirty minutes at opening time.  Fortunately, this helped dispel the intense heat of the day before and created more breezes, which allowed the crowds to be more relaxed.  The wetting of the ground helped the dust situation, but the park grounds were dry and still grassy.

Water was now being sold at two-for-a-dollar.  Whole Foods didn’t wait long to mark down all their goods to a dollar, including wraps and pastas, everything but cherries, which were marked down to five for a huge bag.  People found out, lined up and nearly sold them out within two hours of the markdowns.  The free water station, just a single group of fountains, still boasted long lines despite the marked down water.

 

Girls
Girls

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Girls took the stage casually, then unfortunately never picked up steam.  Out of all the bands at the festival, they may have even beat Panda Bear (QRO photos at a festival) for the prize of most unexciting at the festival.  Three band members wore generic clothing, and the two others, the singer and guitarist, just wore strange clothing.  The guitarist wore a cut out shirt that said girly GirlCatwomanCatwoman and looked handmade.  The singer wore a very flowery ‘80s style shirt with large sleeves, pleated khaki colored plants and even sported Howard Jones’ 80s curls.  On top of the singer’s clothing issues, he may have been the most femme guy at the festival, bringing flowers onstage with him.  But then he played a Rickenbacker!  The clothes issues might have been tolerable if the music and performance been more interesting, but in the bright sunlight, it just seemed bizarre and out of place.
Girls

 

Washed Out
Washed Out

Washed OutClick image for full gallery

Washed Out, a.k.a. Ernest Greene, performed his minimalist-based chill electronic music to the side stage in the mid-afternoon.  His laid back tunes, performed in his slow, Georgian drawl with slow and delicate precision, were enjoyed mostly in the shade, and made a great departure from the mainly rock format.  Although some songs inspired spacing out or thoughts filled with imagery, some with faster beats also made people dance.  Greene even joined in on a few songs, showing off his long purple and white striped tunic and stepping away from the Mac for a few moments and loosen the mic from its stand.

 

St. Vincent
St. Vincent

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St. Vincent featured maturing vocals by Annie Clark (QRO interview), Annie Clarkyet her performance still involved her usual quirky stage banter and references to song titles.  In addition to constant member violinist Daniel Hart (like Clark, also of The Polyphonic Spree – QRO album review – and also his own solo project, The Physics of Meaning – QRO album review), she had Daniel Hartadded a flute/sax/keyboard player, and her bassist was pulling triple duty as well, also playing clarinet and keyboards, while the drummer just drummed.  Adding more instruments may be viewed as a good thing for some, but it significantly cuts down the time that the wonderful Daniel Hart had for playing.  Keyboards seemed a bit unnecessary to add to the mix, but perhaps it was something Clark felt was needed.  multi-instrumentalistIt’s only natural to wonder if Annie misses the eclectic bands she played with before (Polyphonic Spree, Sufjan Stevens), and will keep adding instruments and people as time goes on.
St. Vincent

 

Here We Go Magic
Here We Go Magic

Here We Go, girl!Here We Go, girl!Click image for full gallery

Here We Go Magic contained probably the second strangest collaboration of musicians at the festival.  The lineup included three regular looking guys and two beautiful women; therefore the music seemed less confusing when not watching the band directly.  Nice harmonies accompanied pop keyboards, roots-y rock, and, on occasion, screaming guitar solos or hand claps.  The band’s set progressed from slow, sometimes dreamy, sometimes jam-band type songs to a loud, guitar frenzy at the end of the set.  They definitely left with a bang that will place them in the attentive audience’s memories.
Here We Go Magic

 

Neon Indian
Neon Indian

Alan PalomoClick image for full gallery

Neon Indian is a dance-based electronic band whose music is created by Alan Palomo.  The music has pop beats but fairly low vocals, creating an interesting sound that would be good for almost any occasion excepting maybe those who prefer slow songs for romance.  At times, Palomo appeared like a mad scientist while watching over the keyboards, adjusting effects and turning on backing music, and playing the theremin amazingly.  At one point, his obviously non-waterproof mascara made him look raccoon-eyed and slightly resembling Gene Simmons, especially since he sported the largest, best-maintained afro of the festival performers.
Neon Indian

 

Big Boi
Big Boi

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Big BoiBig Boi wasted no time getting onstage and jumping into action.  No DJ warm-up, no rap partner antics… just straight on to the rap, the funk, the rock and the good times.  He brought a full band onstage, with horns that were prominent throughout, and it’s a welcome change from most other rappers seen at Pitchfork.  Also backing Big Boi later in the show are a young break-dance group from Chicago, a couple of whom also got to have some time speaking into the mic.  Outkast songs were heavily featured and the dancing, jumping audience was pleased, although Big Boi does perform some select songs from his new solo album, while looking like a playboy in his sunglasses, nylon shirt and shorts.  It seemed from this performance that Big Boi brings the funk and Andre 3000 brings the jazz to Outkast’s music.
Big Boi

 

Pavement
Pavement

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Bob NastanovichPavement was highly anticipated by loud chants repeating the band’s name for about a good five minutes.  However, their performance was delayed by a spoof speech performed by ‘DJ Rockin’’ Rian Murphy, a fake local radio celebrity who is in fact the co-founder of Pavement’s former record label, Chicago’s Drag City.  Words spoken about Lollapalooza’s superiority as a festival and other misquotes involving the date of Pavement’s last gigs, and Murphy’s endorsement of illegal downloading, made the audience throw drinks, shirts and other things at him.  Then, finally he announced Pavement and shook their hands as they appeared onstage.

Spiral StairsRight away, Pavement launched into a set of their most popular songs that entranced the mixed audience of young and older fans alike.  This is a reunion tour for Pavement after a long ten years, and many fans were glad to be in their presence – and the Mark Ibold & Steve Westband seem very happy to be there as well.  The band performed under draped party lights that started in the center of the stage.  Sound was fairly good but the bass parts must not have been balanced or perhaps bassist Mark Ibold (also of Sonic Youth – QRO live review) turned his volume control up too high because, for a little bit, the large bass speakers of the main stage over-modulated and overtook the band’s quieter sounds.  Although many of the band’s songs are fairly quick in tempo, the last half of the set included much slower songs, causing the non-enthralled in the audience to slowly trickle out.
Pavement

 

water station

Things went pretty well at Pitchfork Fest’s fifth year. Other than the occasional technical difficulty making stages run late on some sets, by the evening, scheduled times were running on time, so mostly things ran well without many complaints.  littlest PitchforkerOnly having one watering station was one of the complaints about the festival, with the other biggest complaint being the change from Goose Island beer to Heineken.  Other complaints were too much “boring” music, the fact that Lightning Bolt’s almost heavy metal “didn’t fit in with the aesthetic of the festival,” and that the room allotted for the side/B stage wasn’t large enough to hold the audience when popular acts were on.  Also, on Friday night, the comedians left the stage early because they felt they couldn’t be heard over the music playing at the nearest stage.  These are things that Pitchfork will hopefully improve or change for next year’s festival, but all in all, the festival was a blast.
water station line

 

 

Pitchfork 2010

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