Monday, July 19, 2010

My Favorite Acts at The Pitchfork Music Festival

If you've read other Pitchfork 2010 recaps already, you may get the impression that the fest wasn't very good this year. And while, in terms of amount of quality acts, it may have been the worst one I've been to (I've been to four), I still enjoyed it very much. As I sit here reflecting and typing with my newly tanned fingers--it was very sunny all weekend--I find that the last three days were pretty awesome and three of the best days of my summer thus far. So suck it Jim DeRogatis.

It's hard to rank live acts; different artists take such vastly different approaches to performing. Also, what makes the best live act? Is it one that sounds exactly like the record? Is it one that has crazy visuals or lights or acrobatics? I don't know, but I'm gonna list my twelve favorite acts of the fest, in order, below. So join me in recounting this past weekend, one filled with shirtless hipsters, vegan curry, and oppressive sunlight. Oh, and great music, too.

1. LCD Soundsystem (Saturday, 8:30)
A giant disco ball, a near-perfect setlist, a beautiful Chicago evening, and an ever-sarcastic and ever-brilliant James Murphy made the fest's most anticipated (by me) set the best set as well.

2. Lightning Bolt (Sunday, 4:15)
Though a big, sunny stage may not be Lightning Bolt's ideal venue--I think a shit-covered stairwell would probably be better--the band was loud, exciting, and just what I needed to hear.

3. Pavement (Sunday, 8:30)
They're legends for a reason; their songs are amazing, and, though they didn't do anything super fancy during their performance, they played those songs well and with spirit.

4. Panda Bear (Saturday, 7:25)
The bloggers weren't so keen on Panda's set, but, well, I thought it was pretty enjoyable. He coupled ethereal droning with his usual detached vocals and a crazy accompanying video.

5. Cave (Sunday, 1:00)
Sunday openers Cave brought the psych, layering kraut-y grooves over organ drones. One of my favorite things about Pitchfork is how they always bring in awesome local bands--like Cave.

6. Beach House (Sunday, 3:20)
I've seen 'em before and they always sound the same. The thing is, I like how they sound. Their Pitchfork set was another bout of hazy, dreamy pop that was thoroughly relaxing.

7. Robyn (Friday, 6:25)
Friday was definitely a duller day, especially after Modest Mouse's disappointing finale, but Robyn was a bright spot--she danced and boogied her way to the day's only great set.

8. Dam-Funk (Saturday, 3:45)
Though he came on late and his music isn't entirely fresh or unique, he gave a very fun and charismatic performance. And I can't say anything bad about a guy with a huge keytar.

9. Free Energy (Saturday, 1:00)
Free Energy are as fun as they are unoriginal, but at a festival populated with plenty of artists who stand still and moan, their long hair and hyper dance moves were very welcome.

10. Liars (Friday, 5:30)
Friday's only other saving grace, Liars were manic and sweaty and drone-y. And while I was expecting to be a little more excited by them, they were still very worth seeing.

11. Wolf Parade (Saturday, 6:15)
I've hardly heard a single measure by Wolf Parade post-Apologies but Wolf Parade's set was pretty darn good regardless. Plus, few bands can pull off sprawling jam sessions in 9/4 time.

12. Girls (Sunday, 2:30)
I had moderately low expectations for Girls, but they played their throwback '60s pop quite well and included a couple energetic noise freakouts to break up the hooks.

So there's my top twelve, all of which were nice to see and made Pitchfork 2010 a very nice time.

Other things I liked at the festival: $1 water, vegan food, an abundance of Sriracha sauce, my new Washed Out T-shirt (even if I didn't see them play), not getting too sunburned, Rian Murphy's intro to Pavement (after I realized that it was a joke), getting a free LCD Soundsystem poster, and that guy selling water next to the L stop that was describing the act of drinking water as though it were something else (sex). Also: a special shoutout to Titus Andronicus, whose show at Subterranean after the fest on Friday was one of the best shows I've been to this year.

That's what I think. Only about a year until Pitchfork 2011.

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