Friday, August 1, 2008

Live report: Pitchfork Music Festival 2008

Hello everybody. I'm sorry for the late update. The Pitchfork music festival was two weeks ago, but I didn't have a USB cable for my camera until, well, just now. I don't have a great camera, so the only pics I got where those from when I was close to the stage. Also, I'm pretty tired right now, and want to get this posted, so I apologize for any glaring grammatical errors.


Friday marked the second annual installment (I think) of All Tomorrow's Parties "Don't Look Back" concert series. Mission of Burma played VS. Sebadoh played Bubble and Scrape. Public Enemy played It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. I wasn't interested in Mission of Burma, so I browsed through the two merch tents, and bought things. It was hard not to, so many cool things grabbing my attention. 
I wanted to be fairly close for Public Enemy's set, and didn't really know Sebadoh that well, so I got as close as I could to the stage early on. Bubble and Scrape sounded great; I'm not a huge fan, but it was enjoyable enough, and I got to see the performance from a bigscreen. 

Before PE took the stage, their production crew, the Bomb Squad, played a short, highly repetitive DJ set. Calling it a DJ set is being generous, actually. One of the guys pushed play on his macbook (probably running Serato Scratch or Traktor or something like that), and the duo rocked back and forth to a dub reggae cut for about twenty minutes. Occasionally, one member would push a button on his MPC, triggering a low bass drum sound. He proceeded to yell "That's that dub bass, y'all. Makes shit go crazy, it's the future of bass." Right. He actually yelled that about fifteen times during the "set". No joke. He also repeatedly made shout-outs to his "skateboard crew"; I'm not sure who they are, but I guess they're awesome.
        Finally, Public Enemy took the stage. Three guys in desert storm era camo lined up across the stage, and Chuck D, clad in basketball gear, ran out and tore straight into "Bring the Noise". His energy and delivery hadn't changed a bit since their landmark album dropped twenty years ago. I was impressed. I wasn't impressed, however, with his infamous foil, Flavor Flav. The PA was playing all of his vocals from the opening track, but he was nowhere in sight. It was clear that Chuck wasn't using a backing track, thankfully. Flav finally appeared at the beginning of the second track, making excuses for his absence. Replete in several chains and his iconic clock, he claimed that he wasn't lipsyncing ("Flav don't lipsync!"). Right. A few songs in, he thanked the crowd for making him the "king of reality television", and plugged his new family sitcom, Under One Roof. Sadly, Flav is the king of reality tv, and he's essentially become a caricature of his former self. Disappointed, I didn't stay for the whole set.


Saturday began cold and rainy. The grounds of the festival were wet, and huge mud puddles were forming everywhere. I watched Jay Reatard's set while holding my umbrella; halfway through, the rain ceased. Jay had a few good songs, but overall, I wasn't really impressed. I shopped (well, browsed, really) some more, and listened to Caribou and Fleet Foxes. Fleet Foxes were amazing (as usual), and played "Blue Ridge Mountains", one of my favorites. Caribou sounded good, but I was across the park waiting for Icy Demons to play. I'd never listened to them, but had seen Caribou, so I figured I'd give them a shot. And I'm glad I did. They were really fun, exciting, and sounded great. The drummer in particular stole the show (for me). Later, I realized that their he was Chris "Pow Pow" Powell from Man Man, so that explains a bit. 
         I watched Vampire Weekend's set from afar, as a huge crowd had amassed for their set. They sounded great, with one exception. "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" was changed. During the chorus ("Is your bed made? is your sweater on..."), he emphasized certain parts in a very annoying way. "do you wanna FUCK!" he screamed. It didn't have the same funny, awkward effect that it does on the recorded version; it was just annoying here. Their new song wasn't good at all. I'm hoping they clean it up before recording.
        The next set I watched was from Extra Golden, a band comprised of Kenyans and residents of Washington DC. Their sunny afro-pop sounded great, and the sun peeking out from behind the clouds was a perfect backdrop for their summery melodies and trebly guitars. They had great stage presence, looked like they were having a great time, and played very well. I'm glad that I didn't watch the hold steady. Actually, I wish the hold steady would have stopped playing for Extra Golden's set. 

Next up was Bradford Cox, performing under his solo guise, Atlas Sound. I was a little wary when he walked onstage with an acoustic guitar. However, my fears were gone as soon as he began playing his ethereal, drone heavy music. A melange of bell-like tones swirled around volume swells and heavily delayed vocal loops. It was beautiful, and a lot of the set was improvised, so I was all the more impressed.
I had no desire to see No Age, so I headed over to the main stage as quickly as I could to get a good spot for Animal Collective. Unfortunately, the crowd was already packed, so I had to settle for a patch of grass very far away from the stage. I could hardly see the stage, but the sound was incredible. I'm not sure what song they began with (they're known for performing new material live), but after manipulating loops for a few minutes, they segued into Panda Bear's sublime "Comfy in Nautica". Other songs from their nearly seamless set were "Lion in a Coma", "Walk Around", "Fireworks/Essplode", and "Peacebone". I think it was my favorite set from the weekend; I can't wait to see this band again. If you get the chance, make sure to do so.


Sunday began as Saturday, humid and drizzling. As I got to Union Park, though, the rains had stopped, and sun began to shine. I got to the park early, and got a great spot to see Dirty Projectors. I was one person away from the fence, and the show was even better due to the proximity. Dave Longstreth walked onstage, humbly thanked everybody for watching them, and tore into a song from 2007's Rise Above. The set consisted of songs from that album, and one new cut, which was very, very good. I can't wait for the new album after hearing it. The band was very tight, frenetic, exciting... just explosive. I really wish I would have seen them at Club Downunder last fall when I had the chance. Probably my second favorite show of the weekend.
Dave L of Dirty Projectors.

Amber Coffman of DP

Photobucket          There wasn't a band that I really wanted to see until the Dodos later on, so I walked over to the Balance stage (the smallest of the three), to see HEALTH. I got there as High Places were playing their set. I'm not a huge fan of their music, but it was very pretty, and complimented the breezy (if a bit muggy) atmosphere very nicely. HEALTH were alright; I wasn't expecting a whole lot (I love "crimewave", but that's about it). I heard the song I wanted to hear, watched a bit more, then headed back to the main stage for the Dodos.
I got to stand against the fence for The Dodos' set. I imagined they'd play a nice enough set, and wasn't really expecting a whole lot. I like their album, Visitor, quite a lot, and their set more than did the album justice. They played nearly the whole album, and often played strings of three or four songs in a row. Undeniably the hottest set of the festival, all three of them were dripping sweat when they walked off stage. I didn't imagine that they'd translate their music so well to a live setting, but I was wrong. Third best show of the weekend.


I had some dinner while listening to M. Ward. His set barely missed out on my top three sets. I was really excited to see Bon Iver and Cut Copy, so I headed over to the Balance Stage one last time. Ghostface and Raekwon were finishing their set as I got there. Ghost offered to sign autographs for a small fee. Lame. Bon Iver was very good, but I imagine their ghostly harmonies would sound better in an intimate club setting. Still, it was a solid set, particularly the sing-along of "the wolves (Acts I and II)". After the set, people pushed to the stage to see Cut Copy. After waiting for about forty minutes, Bradford Cox and King Khan walked onstage. I didn't hear all that they said, but overheard a bit, and a heard a lot of complaints. Apparently, Cut Copy's flight out of Australia was delayed, so they were going to be late. I left, not caring to see Cox and Khan perform an "improvised psych blues explosion" or whatever Khan called it. I'm sad that I didn't endure it, because Cut Copy showed up, albeit late.
         What is there to say about Spoon that hasn't already been said? Their set was great as always. I heard my favorite song ("I Summon You"), so I left happy. I also saw a woman interpretive dance to their music, something that I have a hard time picturing, even though I witnessed it firsthand. Overall, the Pitchfork Music Festival 2008 was a great time. Anybody want to come with me next year?

1 comment:

ae said...

I'm soo jealous!
and you're so close for some of these pictures, or you zoomed in. Either way I'm still jealous