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Tuesday, December 12

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Transmission
« Pitchfork Music Festival: Friday James Iha Premieres New Music Video »

Pitchfork Music Festival Sun Jul 15 2012

Pitchfork Music Festival: Saturday

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Pitchfork by Sara Pieper

Well, it's still not as bad as Lollapalooza last year, but after another early afternoon round of heavy showers, Union Park is starting to resemble a giant mud pit. Thankfully Pitchfork Music Festival has come well prepared, as they've continually tried to dry out the grounds all weekend and installed plastic pathways in high traffic areas to keep people out of the muddy mess. It seems like the weather might be dampening spirits, as I witnessed more people hiding in the shade and napping today. But some acts still rallied the masses to salvage the day with some spirited sets. -Lisa White

I arrived at Pitchfork early Saturday afternoon only to be greeted with torrential downpour. After immediately seeking shelter underneath some trees in front of the festival's entrance, I remembered that I'd once again left my umbrella at home. Drats. Luckily the sun came out shortly afterward and the skies stayed clear for the rest of the day. I don't mind a little festival rain -- it can be refreshing on a hot summer day and the creative ways fellow festival-goers MacGyver trash bags, festival programs and trash lids into makeshift rain gear can make for some choice people watching. -Stephanie Griffin

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Cults by Sara Pieper

The sun came out just as indie pop duo Cults took the stage. Unfortunately, the band suffered sound issues through the first portion of their set and vocalist Madeline Follin couldn't be heard at all during the first one and a half songs. Once the technical bits were squared away they ended up putting on a phenomenal set that ended up being one of my biggest highlights of the festival so far, likely due to my affinity for goth-tinged female-fronted pop acts (see also: Grimes). Dressed in a black lace dress, wearing bright red lipstick and with her long black hair covering her face through most of the performance, Madeline spent the entire set stationary in the middle of the stage, cocking her head back and forth and swaying her hips, a sultry woman of mystery. Until their last decidedly anti-goth hit song "Go Outside," which prompted an audience singalong after which Madeline jumped up and down and yelped with joy like a teenager. -Stephanie Griffin

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Flying Lotus by Sara Pieper

After chatting with some more acts this afternoon, I was able to catch most of Flying Lotus's set (or at least hear it booming over towards the press tent). I saw him a few years ago at North Coast Festival, and it was one of my favorite sets that weekend, full of intensity as he spun mostly his own work. Saturday was a lot more relaxed, showcasing an artist that clearly doesn't have to work as hard this time around to prove his worth. Catering to the crowd, FlyLo dropped a mix of well known samples from other artists (of course some Kanye made an appearance, it is Chicago after all) amongst his own work. It felt more DJ set than the first time I saw him, but it was still a thumping heady mix of tracks to warm up the afternoon crowd. -Lisa White

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Chromatics by Sara Pieper

By the time Chromatics hit the Blue Stage I thought I was about to pass out from the heat and exhaustion, so I spent the first few songs of their set at the CTA cooling station. Pro tip: If you plan to spend a full day at Pitchfork, always hit a cooling station! You'd be surprised at how much sitting in air conditioning for 10 minutes can really rejuvenate you, and you can still see and hear everything at the Blue Stage from the cooling bus. Chromatics perfectly fit my mellow mood at this point in the day, while still staying with the goth theme that seemed to take over my Saturday. -Stephanie Griffin

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Sleigh Bells by Sara Pieper

While Stephanie caught Chromatics and cooled off, I headed over to get a good spot for Sleigh Bells. I saw the band play both Pitchfork and the Metro a few years ago, and at the time it was enjoyable but still full of rookie mistakes, which wasn't surprising given how new the band still was at the time. The kinks have clearly been worked out, as Alexis Krauss burst onstage, full of bad-ass tough bitch swagger, the kind of persona she went for on the first album but live still seemed a bit shy to achieve. In front of a backdrop of Marshall amp stacks, the duo (trio while touring with the addition of an extra guitarist) launched into a well balanced set, mixing together rowdy fan favorites along with some slower songs to offer a cool down from the sun. Krauss now knows how to work an audience, bouncing around, head banging, screaming like a banshee from the stage. Sure, it's a formulated rock caricature, but it's fun and it works. The sound started out a bit low, which has always been the problem when I've seen the band before. This is music you should turn up and almost blow a speaker, and thankfully the volume did increase as their set wore on. I wonder if possibly the levels were lower because Krauss sometimes struggles to stay on key, but if that is the case I'd almost rather have some backing tracks help her out. I just want it loud. Overall the band is getting more comfortable in their own skin, and it was the perfect loud and fun abrasive rock music to get sweaty to under the hot sun. -Lisa White

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Hot Chip by Sara Pieper

After roasting myself in the hot field for Sleigh Bells, I took a break and hung out farther in the shade for Hot Chip. I've always been a fan of their music, but have never seen them live, so I wasn't sure what to expect from their set. What everyone got was a breezy discotheque worthy set, a nice mix of hits mixed in with new material. It was one of the few bands I've seen at Pitchfork this year that got a large majority of the crowd (even in the back) moving their feet a bit since the groove was clearly infectious. Breakout tracks obviously included hits like "One Life Stand" and "Over and Over," and had people shuffling and mouthing the words along. It was one of those sets you wish for in the late afternoon at a festival, something to cool you down a bit but still keep the energy going. -Lisa White

To be honest, I wasn't too hyped for Detroit rapper Danny Brown's set and really only stayed at the Blue Stage to secure a decent spot for the night's headliner, Grimes. I'd heard nothing but fantastic things about his live performances, but then I caught him opening for Childish Gambino at the Riv in May and he completely bombed. There must be some sort of inverse relationship between the wackiness of his hairdo and quality of his performance because his hairstyle was relatively tame but he was more energetic than ever. -Stephanie Griffin

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Grimes by Sara Pieper

Grimes has been my most anticipated act of the entirety of the festival and really one of the biggest reasons I wanted to attend Pitchfork this year. I was a bit apprehensive about her set once it had been announced that she would be headlining the festival Saturday night, because when I caught her at Empty Bottle a few months ago she only played for about half an hour and apologized that she didn't have very many songs. Unfortunately my phone had died by the time she took stage so I wasn't able to note the exact time of her set, but I do know that the Blue Stage was running behind schedule so she had to have started late and then her set ended around 9:40 pm.

Grimes led off with her highly dance-able pre-Visions track "Vanessa," backed by Mike Tucker of Blood Diamond and two non-choreographed dancers. Grimes' voice is so high-pitched it is otherworldly, abetted by her twee lisp, which perfectly complements her infectious beats. Her short set included audience-pleasers "Oblivion" and "Genesis," which got the whole crowd moving. If only her set were a bit longer, I wouldn't have been left wanting -- especially with the omission of what would have been the perfect way to end the night -- "Nightmusic." She made some quick apologies about sound and city ordinances and quickly left the stage. Even with the short set, I can't say I was too disappointed -- I probably danced more during her set than through the rest of the weekend combined. -Stephanie Griffin

I was unsure of how I'd react to headliners Godspeed You! Black Emperor, since long instrumental tracks have never been something I actively enjoy. But after a bit of coaxing from my dear boyfriend, despite the long isolated drone that began their set, I stayed put to give them a chance. After one of the slowest song buildups I've ever heard, the Montreal outfit crashed down, spiraling and twisting their melodies across the field. Since it is long-form instrumental, I loved pulling out each instrument's part, isolating and hearing each sound to better understand the texture of their work. Styles varied all over, from Eastern European folk flourishes to muddy metal and even some light modern classical minimalism. Their work can be difficult and long, but it really showcases the dedicated talent and craftsmanship of their work. I was bummed that the crowd thinned out a bit, but I applaud Pitchfork for booking a headliner that was polarizing yet deserved the respect of top bill. This music wasn't going to keep everyone sticking around to the end, but it showed just another example of this festival having a deep respect for the music they love. -Lisa White

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Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag (just because she's awesome) by Sara Pieper

Keep checking back for more coverage from Pitchfork Music Festival 2012.

 
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