Photos coming Monday!
Unlike yesterday’s recap, I need to make this one quick(ish). To sum up why, let’s just say I stayed out way too late and have to be up very early so the sooner I finish this the better. If this winds up too short, I may do something more lengthy and appropriate in regards to Day 2 before I finish the weekend’s worth of coverage. That said, here’s what I saw today at Pitchfork Music Festival, good and bad.
Real Estate started my day with their effortlessly sunny melodies. They’re the perfect band for the beach, the only problem was that we were nowhere near a beach. Instead we had the beach-like sand that was the softball field dirt, and the park pool which was behind the stage and hidden by a fence. The set was heavy on new songs, but they sounded a lot like the old songs so everything worked quite well. Despite the sweltering heat, Real Estate’s set made it feel just a little cooler in the park.
Delorean seemed to be out for blood. That’s figuratively speaking of course, because the way they threw down danceable melody after melody was nothing short of impressive. It looked mighty hot up on that stage, and it was mighty hot in the crowd, but the band never let up and the crowd never stopped dancing. They were a few songs in when people started body surfing, and that’s always a great sign the crowd is into it. It made for one of the best sets of the day.
Next up was Titus Andronicus, who would like everyone to know that they’re Americans. If the large American flag draped from the keyboard on stage wasn’t an indicator, singer Patrick Stickles has a mini flag tied to the base of his guitar. As is the case with the band’s punk rock epics, the set was very high on energy and on stage antics, with lots of guitar playing in sync and jumping around. Stickles at a couple points jumped into the crowd, which was thrilling enough, and the stage banter was equally amusing. But the music spoke for itself and the band delivered on all counts. Quite frankly, their set made me prouder to be an American.
It was at this point I decided to get a drink and take a break, because Raekwon was set to start and I wasn’t very interested in seeing him. Turns out Raekwon was more than a little late for his set, and I was surprised when 15 minutes past the scheduled start time I heard no sound coming from his stage. I heard he showed up a few minutes after that and put on a lackluster set simply running through the hits with little to no enthusiasm. Sorry if you were excited about it, I’m glad I skipped out.
I did have a moment to see part of the Smith Westerns, which was surprisingly crowded. Having seen them before, I pretty much knew what to expect, and the band delivered on those expectations. That is, they were decent, but not great. They’re young guys with one album under their belts, so to hold them to a higher standard might be unfair, but one hopes they’ll get better with time and more new music to play.
“Blues Explosion!” Jon Spencer of Jon Spencer and the Blues Explosion kept yelling that throughout the band’s set, and it became almost a mantra after awhile. Really he said it enough that I wanted to yell it randomly at friends for the rest of the day. Dressed in black with some very tight fitting leather pants, Spencer cranked out song after song with enthusiasm and vigor, like he was channeling all the heat his body was absorbing into his performance. It turned into quite the exciting set, with a whole bunch of classic ramshackle numbers that played well as the sun began to set. Jon Spencer may be nuts to the point where he’ll slam a microphone on the ground over and over again until it’s obliterated, but his showmanship is only one part of a complex arrangement that sees the three-piece band deliver a raw and uncompromising set that’s a wake up call more than anything else.
Wolf Parade played out well with the slowly setting sun and following up Jon Spencer’s wild man performance with something still energetic but not nearly so over the top. Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner both seemed to be in great form when they weren’t spending time saying hello to their friends and family watching them via the webcast. The set seemed to lean more heavily on Krug’s Wolf Parade songs, but at this point it doesn’t matter so much given that Boeckner is remarkably close to him these days when it comes to writing lyrics. They hit all the marks they needed to, played the best songs off their new album, went for the throat with a more than stirring rendition of “I’ll Believe In Anything” and capped it all off with the 10-minute “Kissing the Beehive”. Well played gentlemen.
Panda Bear’s set was of interest to me, and I did recommend it largely based on the strength of his albums. I also offered the disclaimer stating that hopefully Noah Lennox would play his songs as they appear on record and not pull an Animal Collective and just simply play an extended jam session that included parts of songs. Well, it turned into that extended jam session, with Lennox all by himself on stage and using looping pedals among other things to craft bits and pieces of ambient noise mixed in with segments of some songs. With the rainbow-infused psychedelic pictures appearing on the monitors as well, the only way you could probably really enjoy his set was with the assistance of hallucinogenic drugs. Sorry Panda Bear, your spaced out set wasn’t for the timid, especially after such a long and hot day.
Finally as the sun was nearly gone from the sky, LCD Soundsystem took the stage. It was every bit as exciting as you might imagine. Fun was the name of the game, and James Murphy seemed to be having a whole lot of it. One of the more surprising things about the LCD set was how the band didn’t seem to hold back any of their best moments, choosing to play songs like “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” and “All My Friends” earlier in the set rather than closing with them. Getting those out of the way was a gambit that worked really well, and maximized the amount of fun that could be had over the course of the entire set. If this was indeed the last time Murphy and his band played the city of Chicago, they left it destroyed with their supremely enjoyable set that was a dance party from the start until the sobering moments of closing song “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”. Might this be the best headlining set of the entire festival? It was definitely better than Modest Mouse, but can Pavement do better? Only one way to find out, so stay tuned for the conclusion of my Pitchfork Music Festival coverage on Sunday night/Monday morning for your answer!
LCD Soundsystem Set List:
Us v. Them
Daft Punk Is Playing at My House
All My Friends
I Can Change
Losing My Edge
New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down