Upon arriving at the second day of the Pitchfork Music Festival on a sunny Saturday morning, I noticed one thing that was as different from any other big show or festival I had ever been to; everyone was nice and looking to make friends. This immediately showed me that this was going to be a different experience. The weather was a nice change from the muggy, humid Florida weather, and not only were the attendants nicer, but so were the security guards who would give away cold water whenever they got the chance. With the surrounding environment being so friendly, the only thing that was left was to enjoy the surrounding music, and so I did.
Chrissy Murderbot ft MC Zulu – Score: 3/5
Beginning the day with a local artist seemed like the right choice. Armed with his laptop and several mixes as well as a hype man, Chrissy Murderbot made the crowd dance more than any artist of the day. Instead of playing songs from his album, he focused on creating mixes on the spot. While he did a good job doing this, his partner MC Zulu just wasn’t doing too great as a rapper, being more of a hype man than an actual MC, which is really what brought this artist down a couple of notches.
Sun Airway – Score: 4/5
Right after Chrissy Murderbot left the Blue Stage, it was Sun Airway’s turn. Sun Airway is a band whose album is pretty decent but nothing too special. Their live show, however, is a different story. The band sounds tighter, catchier, and more upbeat, and despite the crowd not being too large there were still quite a few people who knew their lyrics, making it an enjoyable show.
No Age – Score: 4/5
Immediately after Sun Airway’s set, I made my way to the Red Stage, which was the biggest of the three stages, to catch No Age. The California duo seemed to have some trouble setting up, but once they got started they sure got it going. The crowd was the most energetic crowd I saw on either day. No Age’s mix of dream-pop with noise punk called for some pretty intense moshpits. While the band sounded great, and the crowd was even greater, their set list wasn’t as good as it could have been, focusing more on their previous material than their newest album.
Gang Gang Dance – Score: 3/5
After No Age I headed to the Green Stage to catch Gang Gang Dance’s set. Despite them playing a more than decent set, what really took away from this band is how much I like them, which isn’t a lot. They’re a good band, but they’re just not for me. They can get a little out there on record, and their live show was no different; the songs would go on for prolonged periods of time, and sometimes it would just be too much for me. Overall though the band sounded great, and fans of the band were definitely not disappointed.
The Dismemberment Plan – Score: 4/5
After hanging around the festival for a while I came across The Dismemberment Plan, which isn’t a band I’m particularly fond of, but I have to say I enjoyed their set a whole lot. Frontman Travis Morrison had a lot of charisma and had fun playing the songs, and while fans of the band were enjoying the show, others were mesmerized by Morrison’s stage presence and his yelps and screams. It’s always great when a band’s live show makes me excited for their album material, and The Dismemberment Plan did just that.
DJ Shadow – Score: 4/5
Before beginning his set, Joshua Paul Davis, A.K.A. DJ Shadow, came out to introduce himself as well as his music, and explained that he wasn’t a DJ who makes mixes of Top 10 Hits, but rather an artist. He then stepped into a white sphere, hid himself away from the rest of the crowd, and began his set. DJ Shadow played an array of new songs, old songs, and sampled stuff from every stage of his career. The music was accompanied by visuals, which were unfortunately barely visible due to the sun, which prompted DJ Shadow to step out of his sphere, and allow the audience to see him as he continued with his set. After finishing up, he silently bowed to the crowd and left the stage, as a true artist.
Fleet Foxes – Score: 4/5
Fleet Foxes was the perfect way to end the day. Once everyone was exhausted, all that was left was to lay down in the grass and listen to the sweet sounds coming from the stage. Fleet Foxes beautifully played through most of their latest album Helplessness Blues, accompanied by a couple of songs from their self-titled full length as well as from their Sun Giant EP. The songs went perfectly with the sunset and the night was closed beautifully, despite the fact that it was a calmer show as opposed to the energy of the other sets of the day.
The third day had one major difference from the previous day: it was hotter, a lot hotter, and this is coming from someone who lives with humid Florida weather. Regardless, I sucked it up and set off to see some bands.
Yuck – Score: 3/5
Yuck could have easily been the best band of the festival, but technical difficulties haunted their set. At first the band sounded better than ever, with a much cleaner sound than that of their recordings; it was a breath of fresh air. Seeing a band who sounds different than they do in their albums, while still maintaining the magic that makes them so great, is always a good thing. The problem came when the band began playing “Operation.” First went the vocals, then the guitar, then the bass, until all that could be heard was the drums. After the complications were solved, Yuck decided to just go ahead and close their set with “Rubber.” It seemed like it was over too soon, and things ended with a bittersweet taste that left me somewhat disappointed.
OFWGKTA – Score: 3/5
I have to say Odd Future was definitely the biggest disappointment of the festival. I had always been told that their set was filled with unmatched energy, but of course this fantasy immediately left my mind when Tyler, the Creator walked on stage with a cast on one leg. The rest of the members put on a good performance, and Tyler even stage-dived a couple of times, but I was expecting more, a lot more, and you could tell that the crowd did too.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Score: 4/5
Following Odd Future came Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, who were the band that fulfilled what I expected from Odd Future. Loud, energetic, and charismatic, frontman Ariel Pink had more to give than any other frontman in the festival. Going from headbanging, to mellowing out, to just shrieking and screaming, he seemed like he had a genuine bipolar disorder. The rest of the band also filled their duties well, but more credit should go to Haunted Graffiti’s bass player, who skillfully maneuvered through the fretboard like a real prodigy. Not surprisingly, Ariel Pink stormed off the stage mid-set for reasons unknown, leaving their keyboard player to say “Guess that’s it.” Now that’s the way to end a rock show.
Deerhunter – Score: 5/5
After much anticipation on my part (and that of many other festival attendees), Deerhunter took the Green Stage. The Atlanta band began playing “White Ink” as loud as possible, which led to “Desire Lines.” From there, the band went on to play their most commonly known songs, such as “Little Kids,” “Helicopter,” and “Hazel St.” However, it was “Nothing Ever Happened” that really wowed the audience. The band transformed this five-minute rocker into a ten-minute jam which included a portion of Patti Smith’s “Horses.” The band remained primarily softspoken, until frontman Bradford Cox shouted “It’s good to be back in the US. Fuck anyone who tells you that this isn’t the best country,” which prompted cheers from the crowd. Closing with an extended version of “He Would Have Laughed,” Deerhunter left the stage triumphantly.
Cut Copy – Score: 4/5
The Australian electropop band took the Red Stage immediately after Deerhunter finished, and were easily the best-sounding band of the whole festival. Their live performance was crystal clear, and everything was heard perfectly. The audience quickly caught on to the Australians’ dancey beats, and quickly began a party near the front of the crowd. Unfortunately Cut Copy never seemed to catch on to the party and their presence just wasn’t up to par with the excitement of the crowd. You could tell by their attitudes and banter that they were happy to be there, but their actual movements and energy didn’t show it. Most of the crowd seemed to enjoy their music, as did I, but I was not a great fan of their performance.
Overall, the festival proved to be a success. Most bands did what they could, and most of their faults weren’t intentional, and were mostly beyond their control. Unlike other festivals, there was a sense of unity and of real music appreciation. Everyone was enjoying themselves: the attendees, the musicians, the security, and the people working the merch and food stands. I only wish more festivals were like this one.