On the surface level, I think it’s natural to have some preconceived notions of what a festival put on by Pitchfork may be like. Pretentious I would imagine is the first thing that would come to many people’s minds. An uppity crowd filled with music snobs and young folks more focused on style than substance. You’d probably also assume that following suit with any other festival/venue it would provide nothing but overpriced food and beverages that would be moderately annoying to wait in line to get as well. The lineup can also be a bit off-putting for some. Unsure of all the names on the lineup seems to be a problem for even dedicated music followers at times as Pitchfork likes to stick with very highly acclaimed (even if it is themselves in fact acclaiming them) list of acts. Not to mention the staggeringly small number of acts for a three day festival that pales in comparison to that of a Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, or Coachella.
After attending this festival for the second time, I have to say that I am continually amazed at how far off base all of these notions are. Every one of them. The crowd is amazingly genuine. It is smaller than most fests, but people there seem to be genuinely into music. I attribute this largely due to the fact that Pitchfork’s lineup is not conducive for the teenie-bopper types that are looking to attend a three day festival to simply see one show a day whether that be Monsters of Men or fun.. All of the fans at Pitchfork seem to genuinely be there to enjoy all music. As far as price goes, there is hardly a bar in Chicago where you can get craft beers for $5, let alone a spectacle venue. Food is also moderately priced, from local Chicago restaurants, and very delectable. The lineup, whether you know the artist or not, is wonderful. Every act you see there (or at least that I saw there) is someone I would pay a full priced ticket to see as headliners. And the fact that this number of acts on the list is smaller than most, only provides strong set times, and less conflict from overlapping acts. All-in-all it has to be the US festival with the most bang for your buck. Now let’s get down to brass tax shall we?
I attended this year on Saturday/Sunday only. Friday I was at a Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field that will be worthy of it’s own post at a later time. So below is my quick few-sentance recap of what was one of the more surprisingly great festivals/weekends of my 2013:
The album may wear thin after a few listens aside from “Bathroom Laughter”, but their live performance keeps you entertained and moving throughout. These guys are annoyingly good/fun live.
Phosphorescent made for an absolute perfect mid-day show. Sporting a full 5+ piece backing band made for a beautifully reproduced sound that left me realizing I need to dip more into his back catalogue, as well as a hankering to listen to some Tom Petty.
90’s grunge throwback to the max. Think Weezer’s Blue Album meets Pavements Wowee Zowee. If you have a love for this sound and any sort of love for their album, you will certainly have a love for their live show.
This was my first time seeing Savages live, but it sure as hell will not be my last. Next time I hope to see them in a darker venue to adequately fit their dark thematic sound and stage presence. I also hope to make it to the pits and experience this ferocious spectacle from a mosh circle.
I decided to watch these guys from the crowd this time rather tan the pits, and not only did I avoid another broken nose, I also actually still enjoyed this hyper-active low-end punk-ass shit show in a new light.
Ass. Danced. Off.
Watching The Breeders at sundown was an experience I never expected to enjoy so much. It was like watching an all female version of the Pixies, with a few slower moments to provide one of the more blissful/memorable concert moments I’ve ever had.
Providing I only saw Beyonce’s bombshell beauty of a sister perform 2 songs at Bonnaroo, I’d say I was able to enjoy this performance a bit more. Her voice is absolutely angelic, and her cover of Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness Is The Move” was one of my favorite moments of the entire weekend. Interesting that between Hemsworth’s “About To Die” Remix and Solange’s cover, Dirty Projectors did not fail in being a part of some of the better 2013 Pitchfork moments, without actually even making the lineup
Belle and Sebastian
For a show I had little-to-no expectations for, I was very surprised to enjoy these mellow monsters of nostalgia. They also proved to sound exceptional live, as well as be more danceable than one would think.
Killer Mike loves his crowds like a fat kid loves cake … or I guess probably much as he loves cake. Either way, it provides for a very warm feeling while watching him perform … and that’s not just whiskey warmth.
El P, although being a bit more of a d-bag than expected, delivered what was maybe one of the best sounding hip hop sets I’ve seen since Jay-Z. Tha man kicked off with “Drones Over Brooklyn”, played a few more of his own, then brought out Killer Mike to “Bad to the Bone” (yes, George Thorogood’s B2TB) and rocked some Run the Jewels until they booted him off set. The energy of the two performing together trumped nearly anything else I saw all day.
Why it took me 27 years to see these fuzz fanatics live is beyond me. They aren’t the most incredibly exciting live show, but they sound great through their wall of fuzz.
I’ve never wanted to buy an iPod Nano so badly in my life.
Being completely honest, I really only saw Toro in passing, but he clearly was a lot of fun. Seeing him briefly also cleared up a few questions for me. Namely the fact that he is in fact a male and his name is Toro, not Torrey.
Going in, M.I.A. was my most anticipated show of the weekend. I would not say she disappointed, but I would say her sound mixers did. For a good portion of her set, her vocals were nearly inaudible over her music. She also could have used some better set structuring, spreading out some of her new material rather than front-loading on the beginning half of the set. All that to say, it was still a great, high-energy show that kept me dancing throughout.
I am beginning to be convinced that you can’t find a better headliner these days than R. Kelly. He never lets up, nor disappoints, and everyone knows all of his songs. And yes, he again released the doves during “I Believe I Can Fly” like he did at Bonnaroo. Which may be the best stage trick ever.
Pitchfork After Show
Pure. Sex. Nothing like cooling down after Pitchfork like heating up to some of 2013’s sexiest music. His voice is not quite what you’d hope live (although remember, this was his second show of the day) but it was close enough to make every ounce of energy expelled worth it.