|« Interview: Hundred Waters at Pitchfork Music Festival||Pitchfork 2014 by Tweet »|
Pitchfork Music Festival Mon Jul 21 2014
By day three at Pitchfork Fest, we had seen a wide range of musical and non-musical spectacles. From sets that packed the park to its capacity, showing no boundaries to where the audience ends, to an array of eccentric place-holding signs (the Kevin Spacey sign will always, always win), to wildly zany outfits turning Pitchfork into a fashion show, the three days kept us entertained in ways we did not anticipate. Day three brought about standout musical acts and allowed the festival to close out in an absolutely grandiose way.
Shortly after Speedy Ortiz gracefully shredded apart the Blue Stage to greet the last day of the festival (and where Sadie Dupuis not-so-sincerely apologized for making out with all your friends), Meredith Graves and Perfect Pussy appeared to obliterate anything that remained. Playing their longest set in the city to date, clocking in just over a cool half hour, the band attacked their instruments with true disregard, playing material from their new LP so furiously that you could barely hear Graves screams above the din. Which was unfortunate, as much of Perfect Pussy's appeal lies is in Graves's gender-politicking lyrics and confrontational come-ons. Graves is a visceral and aggressive performer, and her I-dare-you-to-call-me-cute-to-my-face brand of gleeful intimidation is at the heart of her charm: In the throes of any given Perfect Pussy song she'll be screaming until her face turns blue, but somehow she'll manage to smile bashfully between songs and take the obligatory Polaroid of the adoring crowd at the set's end. Who said hardcore couldn't be endearing?
- Mike Bellis
Dum Dum Girls
I always notice that for each festival I go to, there has to be just one lackluster set. It's not bad by any means, however it doesn't have that spark. You don't feel a connection to it like the others you had seen that weekend. By day three, I had not yet seen the lackluster set, yet knew it was on its way. Throughout the Dum Dum Girls' set, I realized that this was the set from this particular weekend. They appeared adorned in black, looking edgy as ever, and their sound quality was great. However, they didn't have a phenomenal stage presence that caused me to crave more from their set. Watching them perform caused me to wonder if they just were not allowing their true musical identity to come forth, as they played mostly their new material which at times felt stale. Again, the set was not bad in listener's terms by any means. However, in comparing them to other sets of the weekend, I felt that it fell just a bit short.
- Sarah Brooks
In classic fashion with the hip-hop acts present throughout the weekend, Schoolboy Q did not emerge in a super timely manner, however was assisted by a hype man who churned out electronic hits to get the crowd going. Schoolboy Q stepped on stage five minutes later, and riled the crowd up quickly, a red bucket hat the focal point of his ensemble. The audience size was akin to Danny Brown's the day previous, with lines blurred as to where the audience ended on the main festival ground. He sounded fantastic as he played hits such as "Hands On The Wheel," utilizing a beautiful Lissie Sample from her "Pursuit of Happiness" cover, and "Collard Greens." What was so wonderful about his set is that he played most of his own material, and not tracks he was featured on, unlike other hip hop acts during the weekend, in which it was more of a blend. We got to get a feel for the original material that he creates, as he was able to amp up the hype for his set and build the momentum for Kendrick Lamar to continue later.
- Sarah Brooks
This New Jersey group comprised of sunglass-donning, Oxford-shirt wearing men amassed a large crowd to play their relaxed indie rock for, as the sun began to dip just a bit. Playing wanderlust-inducing songs from their newest record, Atlas, and some of their older material, their sound reverberated into the crowd and beyond and created a sense of peace and ease throughout the audience, especially after more rowdy sets. Real Estate's show became a respite from the hustle and bustle of the Pitchfork crowd, as most people could be seen sitting on the grass with sprawling blankets, conversing with friends, or standing watchful, dancing and smiling. It was a nice departure from sets with heavier material, as their sound was pristine in the space and could just merely be enjoyed.
- Sarah Brooks
Slowdive might have given my favorite set of the weekend, offering their ringing, wall-of-noise guitar ballads with ear-shredding clarity and precision just before sunset on the Green Stage. While I certainly have a soft spot or two for 90s-era guitar thrash, the reunited shoegazers' sound was bright and immaculate (and loud, thankfully) with the texture of melding fed-back guitars and breathy vocals from Rachel Goswell approaching the peak of the form. It's a shame that these guys are so often mentioned as an afterthought to a band like My Bloody Valentine, as the songs on Souvlaki alone (anyone else get a chill when they plunged into the minimalist echoes of "Souvlaki Spacestation"?) rank with some of the best of the decade, let alone the genre. And something tells me Kevin Shields and co. could never pull out a cover of Syd's "Golden Hair" as effortlessly as these guys, though I wouldn't mind hearing the dueling coos of Goswell and Bilinda Butcher if they ever decide to try.
- Mike Bellis
Sipping from her thermos casually between songs, the spritely Grimes took a moment to inspect the crowd of adoring fans evenly split between drooling dudes and fawning females, wondering what to do next. Flanked by backup dancers, her set to this point was a master class in whispy vocals, flirty expressions and Eastern-leaning, aggressive synth pop, and Grimes demonstrated once and for all her true pop star meddle. She'd been here only two years ago, playing an almost identical set of Visions-heavy material amid cautious onlookers too eager to shrug her off as another pop wannabe within Ryan Schreiber's star-maker machinery. But while songs like "Oblivion" and "Genesis" have only grown more ever-present in the past few years (and with good reason), her star-power is now undeniable. And somewhere in the middle of Sunday night's set on the Red Stage, she knew it. She knew we knew it, even, and decided to throw out a handful of roses to the front row as a gesture equal parts "gee, thanks!" and "I have fucking arrived, so, here, catch." By the time she launched into "Go," her entry for Official Summer Jam of 2014 originally penned for Rihanna, she could do no wrong.
- Mike Bellis
Kendrick Lamar was an interesting choice to bring in as a headliner. He is arguably just as popular in the hip hop scene as his Pitchfork predecessor Danny Brown, however his commercial success and best new music nod from Pitchfork likely landed him this headlining spot. I was eager to see if the set would match up with the expectations the festival placed upon him, as it is a major duty to close out the festival itself. Luckily for us, Kendrick absolutely exceeded expectations. He delayed the set backstage for fifteen minutes (I was not even surprised at the late entrance by this point and honestly was expecting it) as the crowd filled in, leaving barely any space to move, even from the corner on the side of the stage near the front that I occupied. Kendrick opened the set with "Money Trees," which had everyone singing along to the chorus and raised the level of intensity in the crowd immediately. He next wound through his most-adored ballads such as "Poetic Justice," "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe," and "Backseat Freestyle" in the beginning portion of his set, which caused everyone around me to rap along, the energy unwavering. The most prime moment of the show was when he played "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst," and asked that everyone utilize their phone backlights and wave them in the air. As he sang the lines Tell me that you will / Sing about me with a subtle, jazzy backdrop, and tiny lights illuminated the field, it was a magical moment in the festival weekend's reign, as we all stopped for a moment to just be. Kendrick ended the set with "A.D.H.D.," and I'm quite certain that he was able to gather the largest crowd of the weekend. Well done with the final set, Kendrick. Well done.
- Sarah Brooks