This last weekend, Matt Wisecarver and I were fortunate enough to visit Chicago for the Pitckfork Music Fest. It was also our first time visiting Chicago, so we got a lot of awesome stuff under our belts.
Before I get to the bands/festival, here are some quick highlights:
- Ate pizza for pretty much every meal.
- Drank roughly 4 troughs of Goose Island Beer, a brew out of Chicago but available in the Midwest.
- Stayed with my old friend Katie, who studies eyeballs but is very nice regardless. She was an excellent host.
- Visited Reckless Records, Intelligensia Coffee, and Nookie’s Diner.
- Saw two crazy boys jumping speed-bumps on a yellow moped, holding each other and giggling.
- Experienced Wrigleyville game-day madness (didn’t go to the game, though).
- Paid $10.95 for a pack of cloves.
- Visited a mega-bar called The Sheffield, and met crazy weirdos.
- Visited a comfy, worn-in dive bar called Nisei Lounge and did a Jager-Bomb with the bartender.
- Hung out with Doane pals Julia Worth and Brandon Anderson.
- Was spied on by window-men.
- Visited the lake, played the “t-shirt” game.
Now, a rundown of my Pitchfork Music Fest experience:
First of all, it was a very well-run event. There were no fights, riots, altercations, or anything. Everyone there seemed to be pretty cool, although some d-bags were throwing cardboard show-flyers into the air, which is cool if you’re 10, but I digress. The water was cheap (1 dollar), the food and the beer was reasonably priced (4 dollars for a microbrew and about 5 dollars for a meal), and they had various activities like basketball and beanbags to keep people busy, plus mist-spraying cool-down tents. And now for some comments on the bands.
Grizzly Bear- Seemed like they’d be awesome to listen to while relaxing or on a road trip or something, but didn’t own the audience like a band should at a huge outdoor festival. They were ambient and had weird arrangements, and I guess I just wanted to be smacked in the face with music. I think the goal for any festival playing band is blow the audience’s minds. But they sounded pretty cool.
Battles- I had high expectations for this instrumentalish experimental dance-rock band, but again, I was kind of let down. I mean, their stuff sounded pretty cool, and I’m sure I would have loved it if I saw it in a small club, but during some of their set, they just sounded so SMALL. And kind of unorganized. They were at their best when the drummer was going nuts.
Iron and Wine- I had hardly heard any of their stuff, but they had plenty of people onstage doing stuff to really round out the sound, and they were excellent, beautiful, and totally captivating, besides some crackling on the vocals during part of the set. Folk music rules. I heard some Calypso in there, too.
Mastodon- Holy Shit. METAL! They owned. They were awesome/aggressive/terrifying. They played my favorites. There was even a mosh-pit (!!![???]). They put on a SHOW, and had a gigantic “Blood Mountain” banner behind them. Yikes! I wish I could pull off that kind of facial hair.
Clipse- The highlight of Day 1. The hip-hop duo just came on and made the crowd GET DOWN! Their skills were awesome, the beats were sick, and they were very gracious, especially when expressing their gratitude towards the Pitchfork community for giving them so much love and support. Hip-hop shows are hard to top, and these dudes just came out and went NUTS!
Cat Power- I thought I might be more pumped on this motherfolker, but for whatever reason, I was a lot less interested than I thought I’d be. Probably because I was buzzed, tired, and dehydrated.
We didn’t stay for Yoko Ono, although I guess she brought out Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth. I just don’t know ANY of her songs. Plus, we wanted to beat the crowd on the train. She’s 74!!!!!!! DANG!
My second day of Pitchfork was just as cool as the first. I think I heard some more cool bands, anyway.
Menomena- I caught about 3 of their songs, and they were awesome, but I can’t remember what exactly they sounded like. Visit their myspace!
Junior Boys- Cool awesome dance music with rock vocals. Totally fun to listen to. The program likened them to Justin Timberlake beats, and I wouldn’t say that, but they ruled either way.
Jamie Lidell- this was one of the highlights of the festival. Lidell, from the UK somewhere, is this guy who writes and records the backing tracks for his music. Then, when he plays live, he’s by himself, and he sings along, and these songs are SOUL SONGS. And he totally captivates the crowd. Like Sam Cooke or some shit. Other times, he’ll just play some grooves on his turntables, but it’s all very fun to listen to. He had a terrific voice, and he looked like a “homeless bloke” (his words). He was wearding this weird shitty leopard pring shirt and he had all sorts of paper or something streaming from his head.
Stephen Malkmus (from Pavement and The Jicks)- It was mostly just Stephen, although he was periodically accompanied by a drummer friend during the set. He played some gnarly classics including “Spit On A Stranger” from Terror Twilight. Which was beautiful. The only bummer is that, because he was so quiet compared to the rest of the bands, you could REALLY heard Of Montreal sound-checking at the other stage I mean, it was necessary, but I couldn’t help feel that Of Montreal were being rude. But…
Of Montreal- ROCKED! I just started listening to these guys a few months ago, and they are awesome fun psychadelic pop music from Athens, GA (and yeah, they are connected to Elephant 6/Neutral Milk Hotel/Elf Power/etc.). They are weird and profound and sexy, and put on one of the WEIRDEST live shows I’ve ever seen. Lobter-handed debutantes (sp?), golden-jumpsuited women painting themselves, dudes in fencing outfits, an alien pretending to sing, and the lead singer, Kevin Barnes (who swears he’s straight) looking pretty in red eye shadow, a black corset, a black biker hat, black leather panties with a zipper in the front, and a black garter belt. Yuck! And, BOING!
New Pornographers- Sounded cool but I was too busy drinking and chatting to really pay a ton of attention. I was tired.
De La Soul- Okay, so they sounded the best out of every single band there the whole weekend. They were awesome, energetic, funny, and they sounded HUGE AND AWESOME. Unfortunately, we were exhausted again, and we left during their set. It was a necessary evil, as we also had to beat the MASSIVE CROWD to the train station. I mean, it would have been nasty. I hope I get to see them again when I’m not totally burned out.