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« Pitchfork 2015 - Friday in Review Pitchfork Interview: Ought »

Pitchfork Music Festival Sun Jul 19 2015

Pitchfork 2015 - Saturday in Review

Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Heat! Sun! Rain! Wind! Thunder! Lightning! Saturday's Pitchfork Music Fest was one for the weather books. Miraculously, even though the park was briefly evacuated during the height of the afternoon storms, only one full set was cut completely (that of Vince Staples). Ex Hex and Kurt Vile and the Violators had abbreviated sets before and after the storms, respectively, and the stage and sound crews earned their paychecks and then some. For those of us who stuck around and came back after the evac, we were treated to some of the most spectacular sonic storytelling ever to grace Union Park. Oh, and a metric ton of mud.

On Friday, Mac Demarco and his band brought the comedy to Pitchfork festival. He was self-depreciating, poking fun at his smoking habit as his band members praised upcoming/nevercoming performers Thom Yorke from New York and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Saturday was lucky enough to have Jimmy Whispers dispensing his brand of jovial eccentricities onto the morning crowd.

Whispers jumped and danced around stage like a hyperactive kid. There was no stopping, especially once you realized that at one point he was donning a red dress, serenading the crowd with his particularly DIY songs. His later songs were backed by a fuller band, lifting up the charming iPhone recordings well past their origins into something great. He ended his set with a recording of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World", asking everyone to find a partner and dance. It was a weird but sweet note to end an absolutely fun set.
-Julian Ramirez

Ah, Ex Hex, what could have been? First the trio's set was delayed due to what everyone hoped to only be a smattering of rain. After it died down for a bit, the crew did some vigorous sweeping of the drenched stage. The rain returned, umbrellas and ponchos were put to use. Luckily, it wasn't too bad at this point. Mary Timothy, Betsy Wright, and Laura Harris were able to start their set, ripping through four songs before the rain returned with more intensity than before.

Despite the short time that Ex Hex had to perform, they were able to show off exactly what makes them great. They opened with "Don't Wanna Lose" before thanking the crowd for sticking it out in the rain and diving in to the ever appropriate "Waterfall". It was the sole serendipitous moment that the rain brought, giving the song a great effect. "Waste Your Time" and "How You Got That Girl" followed, with all three members jamming out quite nicely. Just when it seemed like only a torrential rainfall would stop Ex Hex, a torrential rainfall came. They unfortunately announced to the crowd that they had bee told to stop and a loud monotone voice announce that Pitchfork was closing in 20 minutes.

Hopes were dashed, but quickly reignited when the Pitchfork app announced the totally non ironic reopening time of 4:20.
-Julian Ramirez

Clothes were flying, water bottles were being launched, folks were crowd surfing (and often ending up with legs in the air, faces in the dirt) and Parquet Courts was getting down on the Red Stage post-rain.

The foursome from NYC brought their high intensity garage-punk-indie rock at its best. Working their way through their 2014 Content Nausea the band played favorites "Everyday It Starts" "Pretty Machines" and of course "Content Nausea." Switching off lead vocals between A. Savage and Austin Brown, with bassist Sean Yeaton sandwiched between the two at the front of the stage and drummer Max Savage hanging out in the back, the group got the crowd going especially on the fast tracks. The foursome would stand in complete and utter silence until on some hidden signal unbeknownst to the crowd they would launch headfirst into guitar jams, head bangs and fast paced lyrics.

Parquet court's grungy, sweaty, gem-filled garage rock comes across well in the live setting, and even more so outdoors where the crowd matches that grungy sweaty vibe. Hearing A. Savage yell "I am a bonfire of human bones!" as the sun peaks through the clouds and your clothes steam dry is a thing of beauty.
-Celeste Mallama

I didn't stay to see all of the Trap Lord's set, partly due to his unwarranted tardiness and eventual rowdiness. What I did see and hear was A$AP Ferg performing to a packed Blue Stage, all of whom were eating out of the pal of his hand. Ferg's flow is pretty good, but his set was too much of the same old rap tricks, from gunshot blasts at the end of every song to obscene hook chants. It all felt a little cheap, but there was no doubt that the majority of people in attendance were having fun. Maybe a little too much as the mosh pits grew and a crowd surfer opting to walk over his wave rather than ride it. I think there was even a couple making out in a tree and a full trashcan being tossed about in the middle of the crowd. A$AP Ferg's verses just brings out the wildness in people.
-Julian Ramirez

The New Pornographers (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Getting all the key Pornographers on the same stage can be a task. They were able to mostly accomplish it during their past tour in support of Brill Bruisers, but at Pitchfork they were short Dan Bejar's lovely odd cadence and Neko Case's heavenly voice. I figured this meant songs fronted by the missing members would be omitted, but this was only the case with Bejar's tunes. The New Pornographer more that made due with Kathyrn Calder, who took the reins on the Case centric songs with amazing confidence. "Mass Romantic", one of my favorites, was handled perfectly. Calder's voice wasn't a straight up imitation of Case, but she did such a great job it felt like Case was actually there.

The New Pornographers' set easily was the brightest on of the day. It's hard to not have a huge grin on your face as they play their instantly catchy tunes. I'm not one to sing along loudly to songs, but some bands just bring it out of me. The New Pornographers are certainly one and such was the case for a lot of the crowd. A.C. Newman was helped along during songs like "Twin Cinema", "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism" and "Sing me Spanish Techno", the Pitchfork audience just too happy not to sing along.
-Julian Ramirez

For those in the know, 20 year old Shamir Bailey out of Las Vegas was the reason to buy a Saturday ticket. Bailey was slated to go on at 6:45, but with the change of schedule due to rain and Vince Staples' delayed arrival, A$AP Ferg held the stage right up until 6:50. While a good deal of the crowd in the front was into it, there were definitely patches of insurgents muttering "when's this dude going to get off the stage? Where's Shamir?" and I was right there with them.

The hardcore fans stuck it out, and at 7:25 they were rewarded as Shamir took the stage. Wearing a blousy pink button up and with his long dreads perched lovingly on his head, Bailey started things off smooth and silky with "Vegas", and pretty much just gave the people what they wanted — playing his debut album Ratchet which he dropped this past spring from start to finish. From "Vegas" he moved into "In for the Kill" and then onto his single "On the Regular" which he prompted with an understated "You guys might know this one. If you do, sing along." We might know it? Based on the enthusiasm level of the crowd it might also be our life's soundtrack. But yeah, we might know it.

Introducing it by saying "This is based on my autobiography," Shamir moved into "Hot Mess" and in one beautiful swoop let down his dreads and let them fly. Bailey can definitely hold his own when it comes to dance moves (there are a lot of silken and flowing head and wrist rolls) but he's also got his crew to help him — a hype man on each side. A beautiful woman on his left and a handsome gentleman on his right were onstage for the singular purpose of getting down to Shamir's music — how do I fill out an application?

Telling the crowd "It's hard being under 21 in this country" Shamir launched into "Make a Scene" and followed it up with a moment of silence for the dead before moving into "Darker." Getting the crowd jumping and yelling, Shamir told us all to sing the chorus for "Youth" (which, as he explained, is easy enough as it's just "Youth, youth, youth, youth, youth") before he wrapped up his set with "Demon", "Call It Off" and finally "Head in the Clouds."

It was definitely a smaller contingent of Pitchforkers excited to see Shamir (there was plenty of space in the crowd, which was probably for the best, what with the amount of dancing being done) but what they lacked for in size they made up for in enthusiasm — and they were highly rewarded for it. As Shamir crowd-surfed his way off the set, everyone at the blue stage knew that they had caught one of the best acts of the weekend.
-Celeste Mallama

Future Islands (photos by Amanda Koellner)

I'd heard quite a few stories about Future Island's live set. I'd heard that Samuel T. Herring's jelly-legged dance is just as amazing live as it looks on TV. I'd heard that he also has a terrifying growl that he busts out mid-set. Both of these things are true.

I would love to recount every minutiae of Future Islands' set, but what with Shamir running 30 minutes late (thanks a lot, A$AP!) all I managed to catch was the tail end. It was perfectly timed though, in that the band was just launching into their single "Seasons" as I went sliding in the mud from the blue stage to the red stage (there was enough mud that all it took was a running start and you could do one continuous slide all the way from the red to blue without a single break in the slime.) The hit single got the crowd moving and Herring's legs wobbling. Who doesn't love that song? Even the bro packs in the back were into it — moving into a huddle/formation/group hug and wiggling in their sleeveless tanks. Before launching into their final song Herring dropped a piece of wisdom on the crowd "Everything we need to live is right here in the pit of our stomach." Personally I had a Chicago Diner gyro and a salted caramel Black Dog gelato in my stomach at the time so I was right there with him.
-Celeste Mallama

Sleater-Kinney (photos by Amanda Koellner)

I've seen Sleater-Kinney twice this year since their reformation. You'd think that be enough, but I assure it's not. Sleater-Kinney somehow gets better with every passing performance. This one however may take it as the best of the three. Sleater-Kinney's songs lend themselves to huge crowds. Their sound travels through the open air with a scary force. It's like a possession, a more guttural version of what occurred with The New Pornographers. The crowd was just in tune with Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, echoing nearly every syllable with vicious glee.

Sleater-Kinney (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Sleater-Kinney is definitely one of the sharpest and toughest headliners at this year's festival. They started with "The Fox," one of my favorites from The Wood and a perfectly loud note to start the set. It's the band at their most fierce with Janet Weiss just trouncing her drums to get that explosive sound just right. Browstein and Tucker don't just strum their guitars, they attack them. Their new songs carry the same weight as their tried and true favorites. "Surface Envy" takes Tucker's voice close to it most imperative while "No Cities to Love" combines Tucker and Brownstein is glorious harmony. "It's not the weather, it's the people we love!" Truer words haven't been sung. I don't think Sleater-Kinney can perform a lack luster set. Watching these three women shake the stage with their animated performance was the biggest highlight of the festival so far.
-Julian Ramirez

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