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Pitchfork Music Festival Sun Jul 21 2013

Pitchfork Music Festival 2013: Saturday

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

With the hot afternoon sun quickly drying up any remaining mud or sign of Friday night's Bjork-ending torrential storm, day two of Pitchfork promised to be another scorcher for what is perhaps their most heavy lineup of artists all weekend. As tank top-clad kids, overdressed aging punks, and everyone in between filed their way into Union Park for the earlier gate opening, the sounds of some of the angrier, more confrontational bands of the Pitchfork roster were there to greet them, providing a stark wake up call to those still hungover from the first day's festivities. -Mike Bellis

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

Pitchfork Festival saw another soggy ending last night, but not before dishing out a deep variety of acts to a much less humid crowd Saturday. Things kicked off with a double punch of speed and punk from Vancouver's White Lung. Vocalist and guitarist Mish Way's voice wailed throughout the field as her band members kept up an impressive and on point beat. It was a much needed alarm clock to the start of the day, whether you wanted it or not, squelching anyones hope of an early afternoon nap laying in the shade. -Lisa White

Starting simultaneously on the Green and Blue Stages was White Lung and KEN MODE respectively, each bringing their own turn-of-the 90s flair (starting to see a pattern here?) to either edge of the punk spectrum. White Lung clocked in a charged, whip-smart set of grungy power-pop tunes, landing somewhere between Hole and Dinosaur Jr.'s post-breakup years due in large part to frontwoman Mish Way's clear Courtney Love complex, who somehow managed to take all of Love's charismatic presence and snotty, confrontational singing without any of the apparent baggage or over-the-top theatrics that she eventually became known for. KEN MODE was a throwback to the classic post-hardcore, metal-leaning power-trio, combining all of the macho stagecraft, hair thrashing, and apocalypse-as-exhibitionism that you might expect from a band that takes its name from a term found in one of Henry Rollins's tour diaries (their name stands for Kill Everything Now Mode, Rollins and co.'s mindset/philosophy for some of the band's later tours.) Combining a wasteland sludge tone with slower, dirge-y tempos, the band brought the same kind of urgency to the Blue Stage as Friday afternoon's Trash Talk if not turning up the existentialist intensity a notch with lyrics like "Religion is a cancer," effectively getting things off to a properly loud start for a diverse day of (mostly) guitar-focused music in the shaded, more secluded corner of the fest. -Mike Bellis

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CHIRP Record Fair photo by Joshua Mellin

At this point I was just killing time before catching Parquet Courts, and as I walked back over toward the CHIRP tent I could hear the open-plains '70s soft-rock lean of Phosphorescent, in all his Seger-esque glory, wafting across the park. So I walked on, eventually landing myself at the Flatstock poster fair, taking in the dozens of incredible artist booths filled with three-tone prints and intricately colored posters from local and national designers, among my favorites being a handful made by top-notch Chicago screen-printer Ryan Duggan. -Mike Bellis

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Parquet Courts photo by Joshua Mellin

At about quarter to three, I made it back to the shaded Blue Stage (again, really can't overemphasize the shade part) to find the Parquet boys getting levels and fine-tuning their mix to the "T" before launching into their set. When everything was just-so, they launched into the quick-jab combination of Light Up Gold standouts "Master of My Craft" and "Borrowed Time," all tightly coiled with dull, erudite guitars evoking Stephen Malkmus at his most basic or even a more tempered Sonic Youth. Which isn't to say these guys were soft: The band raved it up whenever they could, adding new dynamic intensity to Gold's tracks while even playing a couple new ones, all the while proving to the Blue Stage's new believers that, yes, they really are that good as a live band and, yeah, they somehow managed to sound more like Wire than the band itself. The dual lead vocals of Austin Smith and Andrew Savage came across like a mix of the Black Lips and The Fall, if you replace Mark E. Smith's dour, post-industrial ramblings with, say, songs about North Dakota and Swedish Fish. Their set felt quick, if only because I realized half-way through that I had been singing the words to almost every song right with them. Closing on an epic medley of "Stoned and Starving" and "Light Up Gold Pt. II," the Parquets proved themselves to be one of the more exciting and expressive indie rock acts to emerge from NYC in... well, I don't know how long. Let's say awhile and leave it at that. -Mike Bellis

It's been a long loud road for ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, consistently making some of the most intricate and abrasive prog and math rock since '94. Their 2002 release Source Tags and Codes garnered much deserved critical praise, a lesson in editing and subtle touches to create a rich big sound that any band would be lucky to figure out. The band spent a good portion of their set Saturday showcasing some of the material they are currently recording for their new album, the same energy and fervor that has been their signature for years, especially live. Although the band isn't spending as much time these days destroying their instruments live, they haven't settled down into the old age veteran status yet, both vocals and instrumentation as crystal clear and and fever pitched as ever. -Lisa White

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Pitchfork food lines photo by Joshua Mellin

The rest of the day continued to be sweltering, and I managed to catch the first few songs of Tampa Bay rockers Merchandise, who sounded almost like a deconstructed, power-pop Soundgarden (that 90s thing again), before heading out to see Savages over at the Green Stage at what was probably the hottest point of the day. Just as serious and on-point as reports from the London band have claimed, the band gave a no-bullshit performance of Factory Records-era post-punk with a near-religious fervor to tremendous response from the crowd. And as Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth sang about "wanting to feel like I deserve it", she even set the mood for the BDSM-leaning kinky Catholics that would be taking the stage later that night. -Mike Bellis


Swans photo by Joshua Mellin

Back on the Red Stage, Swans were as deconstructed, dissonant and dirge-like as you would hope, with Michael Gira leading the band through each corner of epic, slowed down sludge with a rock-kick at every turn. Kind of strange to see Gira and co. in such a sunny atmosphere (much less opening for Ms. Solange Knowles), admittedly, but nevertheless exciting to see the band still so vital and on point and daring to push their own boundaries after so many years. -Mike Bellis

The Breeders are one of those bands that I missed the first time around, born just a little too late to bare witness to a band when they were fresh and new. Like many I have to settle for reunion tours and revival acts to hear morsels of songs I grew up transfixed by a little too late. As much as I enjoyed hearing the bass line kick in on "Cannonball," The Breeders delivered a set plagued by low muddy sound and going through the motions stage presence that deflated quickly. Last Splash is a great album, but overall the set felt more like old friends getting together to jam a bit, reminiscent, and maybe get a paycheck and trip in the process. But here lies the problem with promoting an act playing their iconic album live; there is too much pressure to capture something special and important. This album is historic in music for a reason, so most people expect to feel something more when they witness it live. And some bands are great at this, for example Sonic Youth playing Daydream Nation at Pitchfork Festival in 2007. But The Breeders lacked the energy to get to this level Saturday. Kim Deal is still a rock god and a woman many aspire to be, and the band still can dish out an enjoyable set, but a set simply billed as The Breeders would have been more forgiving and more exciting for the band as well. "So, that was the record" Kim chuckled towards the end of their set. She sounded a bit bored and relieved to be done with the whole runaround of playing an album in one go. A carbon copy of nostalgia isn't everyone's idea of a sang song or rebirth, and it's a shame the Deal sisters and company weren't left to their own devices. -Lisa White

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

After a short break, the Green Stage was once again alight with screams for charismatic leading lady Kim Deal and her Breeders, who combed through Last Splash with an amicable looseness that was perhaps all too appropriate for the 90s nostalgia cloud currently affixed over Union Park. "Cannonball" sounded great, of course, though I can't say the rest of the album proved as memorable to the rest of the audience. The band took their time between songs, and both Deal sisters seemed to be in good spirits as the sun (finally) set opposite the stage. -Mike Bellis

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

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Solange photo by Joshua Mellin

Let's go ahead and get out of the way the fact that whatever is in the drinking water at the Knowles residence is pure magic. Sharing a supreme drive, sense of perfection, and two amazing set of pipes, the Houston household is responsible not only for megastar Beyonce, but also for Solange, the powerhouse vocalist that set a breezy tone late Saturday afternoon. After a foray into more traditional top 40 pop music, Solange has found her own sound with the release of her EP True. It's a subtle pop album, full of downtempo beats and harking back to the smooth vocals of 50s girl pop with a danceable beat. That beat was well utilized throughout the set, the crowd full of hips swaying in time. Solange herself looked flawless, her stage presence perfected, and her backing band engaging, showcasing an artist that clearly has complete control and approval of her entire artistic concept and product. She is a natural performer, charismatic, bubbly, and hitting notes that seem impossible effortlessly. She has found her groove musically, creating a sound and persona that is perfectly suited for her style, and it shows in the way her enthusiasm is infectious. Despite a shortened set, it was still one of the highlights and a breath of fresh air to kick off Saturday evening. -Lisa White

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Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian photo by Joshua Mellin

Belle & Sebastian took the stage promptly at 8:30, diving right into fan favorites from throughout their career like "I'm A Cuckoo" and "Another Sunny Day." Stuart Murdoch was in a fine mood (one tasteless joke about gun violence aside), playing his role as the Pied Piper of ardent twee to great effect throughout the night. The dozen or so members onstage (including a small horn and string section) deftly moved throughout their entire catalogue, and Murdoch occasionally plucked fans from the crowd to the stage to dance or sing along to big lyric posters that he held "Subterranean Homesick Blues"-style.Closing with a rapturous "Judy and the Dream of Horses", and playing a single-song encore of "Get Me Away I'm Dying", the band certainly leaned more heavily on tracks from If You're Feeling Sinister and their late 90s heyday; though as we've seen, they were hardly alone in their pre-millenial yearning. -Mike Bellis

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Photo by Joshua Mellin

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jason magicks / July 22, 2013 3:38 AM


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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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