Monday, July 18, 2011

Pitchfork Fest 2011 day three: Cut Copy, OFWGKTA & more

By Andrew Hertzberg

An unnecessarily large crowd for Odd Future
Anyone who was in Chicago yesterday knows how ridiculously hot it was. It takes a certain amount of crazy in a person to want to stand, outdoors, in that heat, in the sun, shoulder to shoulder with other sweaty human bodies all for just the sake of music. Unfortunately I’m not one of those crazy people. I thought I was. I thought I would try it. Instead, Sunday was a day of floating between bands, catching bits and pieces, literally too hot to commit to one act. With already a flurry of posts including photos, reviews and criticisms of the festival already unleashed upon the internet, why not one more? 

Twin Sister
Thinking I could man up to the heat for at least a little bit, I moved my way up close for Twin Sister at the Blue Stage. Lead singer Andrea Estella came on stage with a wig of straight teal hair that went past her knees, as they started off with "Milk & Honey." There were some minor feedback issues during the set, but we were treated to some new tracks. They still retained a bit of the dreampop they’re known for, but with a bit of Roxy Musicesque funk thrown in. It was interesting to note the disparity within the crowd: the ten foot gap between those of us braving the heat and those who were standing in the shade. Eventually I would join the latter camp as they closed out the set with "All Around and Away We Go" and "I Want a House."

Well, despite all the controversy and pseudo-morals I preached, curiosity got the best of me as I walked over to the Red Stage for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. I missed out on lead Golf Wanger Tyler, the Creator stage dive with a cast on his leg, which would have been pretty cool to see. And it was also a bit, um, "odd" to see the bobbing red afros of the Mysterious White siblings on the side of the stage. Other than that, the set was pretty much as expected. Lots of white people moshing to mediocre beats, throwing up middle fingers when prompted, like some brainwashed mob trying to escape their own privilege. At the end of the day, it was really just whatever. They can call themselves geniuses all they want (is the phrase "fuck the police" still considered creative?), they’re really just the product of an overhyped media and I regret perpetuating the buzz in the past. No mas. Moving back to Blue Stage.

Shabazz Palaces like to remain a mystery. The lead of the Seattle based avant-rap group Palaceer Lazaro and former member of Digable Planets and Cherrywine doesn’t name who else works with him, doesn’t like interviews or promo shots and the music certainly reflects this philosophy. Highly reverbed vocals (a bit of a misnomer for conventionally lyrically based music) and rarely a discernable beat to get a groove to, the Sub Pop artist was certainly more left of the dial, darker, and all around interesting than the rap collective making waves on the main stage. 

I found myself wandering around a bit, catching a little bit of Ariel Pink. Was disappointed to learn from Twitter a few minutes after moving back to the Blue Stage that he did indeed leave the stage early, of what can now just be considered his shtick. I don’t really care how great your records are: if you commit to performing a set and can’t follow through, you’re just wasting the fans, the event’s staff and curators, and your own time. Save the stage space for a more deserving artist and find a new job, man. 

The majority of my view for the mid-afternoon
Considering how shaded the area is by trees, the Blue Stage is the best place for the more low key artists. It’s not too interesting to watch a dude work a laptop, especially on a hot day (see: Washed Out last year), but the sounds are pleasant to take a brief nap to. So I headed towards the back of the Blue Stage area, claimed some grass and chilled out to Baths. And then, in the exact same spot, I got my ass kicked by Kylesa. As OFF! were the obligatory punk band the day before, so were Kylesa the obligatory metal band of the year, a position formerly held by Mastodon and Boris in the past. It seemed most of the crowd from Baths dispersed to catch either Superchunk or Deerhunter on the main stages, thus missing out on the dual drumming and Kim Deal meets Rob Halford screams of Laura Pleasents. And immediately following this? Back to the chill with South Carolina’s Toro Y Moi. Although the brainchild of Chaz Bundick, he had a full band to back him up Sunday night. As things were a little behind schedule on the side stage, only caught a couple tracks before heading over back to the Red Stage for what turned out to be the best set of the day. 

Cut Copy not letting the energy die even at the end of the weekend

Although I’ve gotten more into electronic based pop-rock and have started to find at least some relevancy in synths, for whatever reason I still cannot get that much into Cut Copy. A friend had continued to rave on and on about how great they were live though, so I had to submit. And literally, the whole field was packed. Didn’t even bother to try to get up close since there were just people dancing all over the place. There was more energy than when LCD Soundsystem closed out the night last year. From the start of the set with "Feel the Love," the first track off 2008’s In Ghost Colours, following the route of the setting sun until the end of their set, it was non-stop dancing throughout the park. The band does a great job getting the crowd into it, running around the stage themselves, running into each other, backed by a much brighter lightshow than the one DJ Shadow exhibited 24 hours earlier in the same spot. The biggest tracks got the crowd going the most. Highlights were for sure "Lights and Music," "Need You Now," and "Where I’m Going," the uber-poppy electronic Beach Boys jam that never resonated any filling but boredom from me before they played it live. Pretty sure I’m officially converted into a Cut Copy fan after this show. 

After an already long day, a blatant disregard to basic hydration rules (despite the festival’s numerous, numerous pleas to do so) and the entirely thrilling Cut Copy set, I hardly had much energy left for TV on the Radio. Another band I have little familiarity with, but figure, hey, if they’re headlining, gotta check ‘em out. They kicked it off with the lead to 2009’s Dear Science, "Halfway Home," a driving beat and catchy ba-ba-bas. Cut Copy was a tough act to follow, but they certainly did their part to keep the energy going, playing tracks what seemed faster than their recorded counterparts. However, the combination for me of unfamiliarity and the on setting exhaustion led me to book it a bit early. 

Overall, the fest was great. Literally three days of shirking responsibilities, sitting around a park with friends and listening to music. Not gonna complain about sound issues, rising ticket prices, or the commercialization of the fest. A lot’s changed in six years, mostly for the better. Although I was initially disappointed in the lineup and swore not to buy tickets next year before the bands were announced again, I think I was reminded why Pitchfork is Christmas in the summer. Looking forward to it again next year.

Check out the day one recap here and the day two recap here.

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