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« Xylouris White Quickly Captivated Schubas Pitchfork 2015 - Saturday in Review »

Pitchfork Music Festival Sat Jul 18 2015

Pitchfork 2015 - Friday in Review

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Friday the thunderclouds built up north and south of Union Park, but the rain held off while the heat ramped up. At one point, the lightning show over Lake Michigan was only rivaled by the dripping LED display along Wilco's stage. Our team spread out over the park and soaked up as much music as sun. Here's what they had to say about Friday's Pitchfork performances:

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Natalie Prass (photos by Amanda Koellner)

There's nothing Canadian indie rocker Mac DeMarco can't make look cool. He's the kind of guy who can give you fomo simply by dint of existing. Sure your Pitchfork after party is fun, but I bet wherever Mac DeMarco is, it's just a little bit more so. From gap teeth to shaggy locks to cigarettes, if Mac DeMarco touches it, it turns to gold (and speaking of gap teeth - check out this interview between him and Shamir Bailey. Jenga and popcorn never looked so good.)

DeMarco took to the red stage right as the blazing hot sun checked out behind a cloud (much to the audible appreciation of the crowd) in a Nirvana t-shirt that said "I hate myself and I wanna die" and a pair of red converses, smoking a cigarette and flanked by his shirtless guitarist and his bassist. Sticking his cigarette into his guitar clamp for safe-keeping, DeMarco launched right into his set with "Salad Days," "Stars Keep Calling My Name," "Blue Boy" and "Ode to Viceroy."

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Mac DeMarco (photos by Amanda Koellner)

DeMarco's goofball demeanor came across endearingly on stage, as he pulled faces and squared off with his bassist on the guitar solo for Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years." At one point DeMarco told the crowd "We have a new album coming out" to which the crowd responded enthusiastically, thinking that he was going to play some. DeMarco then told the crowd "Oh no, no. We're not going to play those songs, we don't really know them. I just wanted to say that it's probably been leaked and you guys should download it. I don't really give a shit." Wrapping things up with "Chamber of Reflection" and a final song, DeMarco flashed his gap toothed grin and left us all wondering where he was headed after the set and if we could pull an invite.
- Celeste Mallama

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Panda Bear (photos by Amanda Koellner)

The music that Noah Lennox's Panda Bear emits can be a mixed bag. It can go from lovely and soothing sounds underlined by his equally calming voice or an assortment of electronic noises and screeches that can get lost in a festival crowd. If you thoroughly enjoy Panda Bear at home, you'll likely love him live. The repetitive but wonderfully flowing of "Untying the Knot" carried just as much enjoyment in the outdoor heat as it would in an cool room. However his one man show fell a little short at the Green stage, mostly due to the timing of his set.

Lennox's performance was simply him on stage twisting and endless supply of knobs and components while clutching his mic. He belted out distorted lyrics in front of his menagerie of multicolored wires. His minimalistic performance was accompanied by a mixture of glitchy psychedelic visuals that unified Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper neon lines with the weirdness of everything post Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam. It looked good, but would have been amazing a little later in the evening. The blaring sun was angled just a little too low, lending itself to completely wash out what should have been perfect visuals for his songs.
- Julian Ramirez

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CHVRCHES (photos by Amanda Koellner)

I think that CHVRCHES' pristine pop was made for these sorts of festivals. Laura Mulberry's voice has a clear and completely confident timbre that cuts through audiences. It's a little It's actually uncanny how easy it is to like CHVRCHES amidst the growing crowds at the festival. The trio arrived at the Red Stage clad head to toe in black, casting themselves in contrast to the huge pastel banner with their band's stylized name scrawled on white rectangle. Everything about their presentation screamed professionalism but never distracted from the fun that could be had, such as kicking beach balls and CHVRCHES performed a few songs from their forth coming album that actually popped just as big as their previous hits. "Leave a Trace" was particularly impressive, putting Mulberry at her most confidant and the bands synth-pop at its most sprawling. They ended their set with their debut single "Mother We Share", a reminder of how great this band has been.
- Julian Ramirez

Ought as a band are completely unassuming, never really letting the buzz and praise to get to their heads. They stepped out atop the Blue Stage to crowd cheering their arrival, but were merely setting up. Tim Beeler waved at the crowd and with little warning lead the band into "Pleasant Heart". Ought's energy is completely unparalleled, mostly due to Beeler's dizzying showmanship. His tall and lanky frame thrashed about as recklessly as his voice. He jumps around from impassioned wails to nasally spoken word moments that grip listeners better than any other band.

Ought treated the crowd to a few new songs that fell right in line with their frantic sound. As excited as the crowd was for the bits of newness from the band, it was songs like "The Weather Song" and "Habit" that had the audience jumping in line with the band. With their time was winding down, Beeler quietly let everyone know there was only three songs left so people can go watch the rest of Wilco. Save for a small handful of people, everyone stayed where they were, completely devoted by the quartet. Ought did not disappointed with those last three songs, topping of their set with one of the most raucous versions of "Gemini" I've heard from the band. Beeler ripped through his guitar strings, which flailed around his body as haphazardly as his arms. Those final moments were pure punk madness, exactly what the Pitchfork crowd needed.
- Julian Ramirez

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Jeff Tweedy of Wilco (photos by Amanda Koellner)

In an age of instant online leaks and seemingly interminable hype-cycles for new releases, Wilco pulled off a coup this week when they dropped an entire album that basically came out of left field. Their set at Pitchfork Friday night seemed to serve as theatrical punctuation, with them opening the show with a complete run through of all 11 new tracks off of Star Wars, and what amounted to a checklist of greatest hits to finish out. After the new stuff, they went right into a half set of Wilco fan faves, including "Handshake Drugs," "Impossible Germany" and, naturally, "Via Chicago," all the while, the LED lights in the back of the stage were dripping down like digital rain.
-Dan Snedigar

 
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