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Pitchfork Music Festival Sat Jul 14 2012
My Pitchfork Music Festival weekend began as I sat in Big Star in Wicker Park, grabbing some celebratory margaritas with some other writers, as the mood changed when we noticed the monsoon downpour outside. Yes, Pitchfork 2012 is destined to be a wet one. But a little rain never hurt anyone too bad, so onward we march to a (now wet) weekend full of indie rock, record fairs, and plenty of bad fashion. -Lisa White
Being a veteran of outdoor music festivals, you'd think at some point I would learn to prepare for any and all weather conditions. But as Pitchfork Music Festival kicked off on Friday in the pouring rain, I realized that I didn't have an umbrella, or a poncho, or a ziploc bag to store my electronics (this last one is the largest offense, considering both my iPod and my iPhone were sacrificed to the Lollapalooza rain gods last year). Luckily Union Park has a copious amount of trees to hide under in case of emergency, plus the CHIRP Record Fair tent and various other booths around the park. -Stephanie Griffin
After stocking up on some rain gear, I made it to the festival in time to chat with Outer Minds (check back later for our interview with them) as I heard in the background the tail end of The Olivia Tremor Control and Willis Earl Beal. The first sounded just like any '90s era Elephant 6 associated group would sound like, which means bright guitar driven rock that after the rain added a nice lighter touch to the afternoon. From across the park Willis Earl Beal sounded like he was channeling some serious Tom Waits. I was sad to miss his set, but just the few bars I could hear moved him up to an act I have to catch live sometime soon.
After my interview, I headed over to the Electromusical Energy Visualizer with Stephanie to check out this newest edition to the festival. The set up was really cool, and both Stephanie and I had our photos taken. Here's is below, and I'll spare you readers from witnessing mine. Needless to say I'm not a fan of Beach House, since I looked liked I wanted to murder someone while listening to them. My aura did show that overall I was passionate and magical while listening to the selected artist, which given my years of coverage and fandom of the festival seems about right. -Lisa White
My phone survived, mostly in thanks to the eMusic booth at the south end of the festival. They've got this Electromusical Energy Visualizer where you can listen to songs from various bands playing at Pitchfork, place your hands on some sensors, and a photobooth will take a picture of your musical aura. Pretty cool. Apparently I am peaceful while listening to Lower Dens, Iceage, and A$AP Rocky, but magical and passionate when listening to Beach House. Seems accurate. -Stephanie Griffin
The rain let up with just enough time for me to catch the second half of Canadian rockers Japandroids' set over at the Blue Stage, partially aided by the bands at the stage running significantly behind schedule. I was greeted with an overpowering wall of sound as they swept through the end of the set hard, fast, and loud, with little to no chit chat. The Blue Stage is my favorite place to see music at Pitchfork because it is hidden away from the rest of the festival and conveniently located next to the food and beer trucks -- but it is also walled in by fences and trees, and as I learned during Japandroids' set, if you arrive late and are in the back of the crowd, sight-lines are minimal. But from my vantage point, I could see a lot of head banging, hair flying, arms flailing, and an all-around enjoyable musical start to my weekend. -Stephanie Griffin
Following Japandroids I headed over to catch Dirty Projectors, a band I'd heard a lot about but for some reason never really got into. As the set started and they were halfway through the first song, I pegged them as a stuck-in-the-'90s college rock band, and dreaded a set I was sure to bore me to tears. Boy, was I wrong, as every song they played became more interesting and weird in different ways, as they seem to explore new territory and genre with each song. -Stephanie Griffin
I've seen Dirty Projectors a few times, and although their new material is great, I've heard a lot of praise about producer Clams Casino. So, I headed over to the smaller Blue Stage to check him out. If you were expecting some sort of entertaining show to watch, you would have been let down. It was very much a guy leaning over his technology type atmosphere. But if you wanted a chilled out mix to relax in the shade with friends, this might have been the best bet for the day. The music was a slower tempo blend of electronic and hip hop, a chopped up blend of samples that rolled heavy and soft across the crowd. Just one of the many acts over the years that I've discovered at Pitchfork, knowing that I'll head home and download more music thanks to being intrigued by the live set. -Lisa White
One of the acts I was most excited to see Friday at Pitchfork was Purity Ring, the Canadian duo that again is riding the similar wave of popularity by mixing electronic and hip hop beats together to create some trippy downtempo tracks. I was a fan when I first saw Corin Roddick in Gobble Gobble (also now known as Born Gold) a few years back at a loft party. If you like Purity Ring but want something more insanely energetic and somewhat schizophrenic in sound, check out Born Gold.
The stage setup was perfect for a night headliner, bouncing colors of lights and orbs that look like spun cotton candy hanging over the stage. The band has a hushed sound to them, singer Megan James' vocals chasing the prize of most likely to sound like Bjork at this year's festival. The music has an ethereal feel to it, yet still pounces onto the audience with some more abrasive electronic beats. A lot of the production and style reminded me of the other Pitchfork favorite from awhile back, The Knife, so I'm not surprised the site picked Purity Ring as a closer for Friday night's Blue Stage show. -Lisa White
Feist's set was a bit shaky, especially toward the beginning when she was almost drowned out by the noise pollution coming from Purity Ring's set over at the Blue Stage. That was only the beginning of her problems -- at times she suffered from a broken guitar, forgotten lyrics, and loud audience chatter during the quieter moments of her music (moments where, in a smaller venue, she would have enchanted the crowd). She was backed by the charming indie folk trio Mountain Man, who were able to aid her in these weak points in her set. However, once she got loud, she really brought it and more than made up for her set's shortcomings. To be honest, as this was my first time seeing Feist live I wasn't expecting her to rock out as much as she did -- but man, can she shred that guitar. -Stephane Griffin
Check back all weekend for more coverage from Pitchfork Music Festival 2012.