Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pitchfork Music Festival, Day 3, 7-17-11, Thoughts, Setlists, Videos and Reviews

Was fortunate to head up to Chicago for the Sunday lineup of the 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival and despite the hot, hot, sunny weather, found enough shade here or there to outlast the muggy July weather. A big cheers to Troy who's made this trip several times before and provided transportation and logistics (HA!). We'll work at getting there again next year. A couple things before I get to some of the music we checked out, Union Park is a fantastic facility for a festival. It had an almost intimate feeling compared to the size of some larger festivals happening around the country. And secondly, thank you to the Pitchfork staff for keeping the water flowing to keep up with safety and for keeping thousands "Hydrated". If you didn't buy a cold water, they were handing
out water left and right and even had refill stations for your bottles. Now only if you had some other type of beer besides Heineken (like New Castle or 312)....but that's small potatoes. Enough with accommodations, let's get to some of the acts.

Kurt Vile & The Violators
At 2:30, Vile was the first act we got to see as there was no rush to go stand in the blazing sun. Since others weren't in a rush to get out in the sun yet either, we got as close to the stage as we would all day and Vile didn't disappoint. As the sun basked down, the Violators proved to be a perfect blend to combat the heat as Vile spun out some great renditions of "On Tour" and "Freeway" as well as spirited versions of  "Society Is My Friend" and a rave up of "Freak Train". Vile and drummer Mike Zanghi (who was fantastic to watch playing some songs with just one bare hand and a maraca on the drum kit) stripped down a nice version of "In My Time" to end the set. The real treat was watching Vile work the guitar as he used his hands to strum a rich delicate sound. Vile has the charisma of someone who could be an identifiable true rock icon. With more albums like this year's superlative "Smoke Ring For My Halo", Vile may just be on his way to something along those lines. One of the most fulfilling highlights of the day.

I highly recommend watching the full 50 minutes of set...click here for Pitchfork broadcast via youtube while it lasts...it sounds really good.

Kurt Vile & The Violators Setlist:
1. Overnite Religion
2. On Tour
3. Jesus Fever
4. Hunchback
5. Runner Ups
6. Society Is My Friend
7. Freeway
8. Ghost Town
9. Freak Train
10. In My Time 

We chose not to swag. But I've read that Tyler the Creator (or diplomat) handed out cupcakes to advocacy groups protesting the band's presence there.

Shabazz Palaces
So instead of OFWGKTA, we opted for shade and Shabazz Palaces. Being on the side of the stage a bit, really didn't get a chance to fully embrace their act. But just like a couple songs I've heard from their new album, Digable Planets' "Butterfly" has a good thing going and a lot of people seemed to be enjoying the groove. We got about half their set and moved on....

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Got the latter half of their set in the late afternoon heat from afar (found more shade in the back) and am immediately reminded of early 80's mod with big lo-fi sounds intertwined. I'm reminded of Dexy's Midnight Runners' "Searching For The Young Soul Rebels" before "Come On Eileen" and how good that was. But not being familiar with Ariel Pink, it may have been the afternoon heat or the Heineken making me think "L'estat" with it's knock, knock, knock refrain was "Geno" or "Seven Days Too Long". Either way, I want to hear more. Worth checking out.

Perhaps the biggest conundrum in scheduling was having sets from Deerhunter and Toro y Moi going on at the same time. It became a catch some Deerhunter and race off to see Toro y Moi type thing. Deerhunter embraced the big stage in the evening as they started things off with one of my favorites from "Halcyon Digest", "Desire Lines" as well as a cover of Patti Smith's "Horses".  To Deerhunter's credit, they sound a lot more comfortable and  they rocked things out more than I thought they would, especially on "Don't Cry and "Revival", which were both much fuller than on their studio album. The drawback was I'm not sure if they engaged the crowd that well as it seemed like others had the same idea of getting to Toro y Moi as people filtered out song after song. We made it to three minutes of feedback, decided to disperse ourselves and heard the beautiful "Helicopter" start out behind us. After seeing full setlist, glad we did get to see 8 of 10 songs.

Deerhunter Setlist:
1. White Ink
2. Desire Lines
3. Hazel St.
4. Don't Cry
5. Revival
6. Little Kids
7. Nothing Ever Happened
8. Horses (Patti Smith Cover)
9. Helicopter
10. He Would Have Laughed

Toro Y Moi
With the sun fading, what a better way to start an evening than with the quaint blue stage setting for South Carolina's Toro Y Moi and their concoction of Michael Jackson/Stevie Wonder/Badly Drawn Boy blend of light, smooth funk grooves. I haven't had a chance to review their latest album "Underneath The Pine" on the blog, but have listened to it quite a bit this year and love songs like "New Beat", "Go With You" and closer "Elise". Also, the stuff from their debut album which got a lot of play sounded just as good. Chaz Bundick has the vocal smoothness and keyboard chops to be a new generation Stevie Wonder but time will tell where his band is heading to next. In the meantime, they're sounding pretty damn good right now. Fantastic dancing abound in the audience during their set but.....

Cut Copy
....nothing as monumental as the Aussie dance party that broke out for Cut Copy. By the time we got to their stage we were witness to a pure disco of thousands in front of us. Cut Copy had the no brainer slot of the day at dusk with the sun down and people finally had the energy to dance without it being sweltering, and Cut Copy was happy to provide the beats. "Zonoscope" has three fantastic lead singles and "Need You Now" has a chorus every AOR music programmer would kill to have paying on their radio station (Really, it could be a top ten breakthrough hit). So while Cut Copy is not my whole cup of coffee, I admired what they transformed. A dance party that made you feel you were at some out of the way European festival. It showed Cut Copy is made for these events. A toast to that.

Cut Copy Setlist:
1. Feel The Love
2. Where I'm Going
3. So Haunted
4. Corner Of The Sky
5. Lights & Music
6. Blink & You'll Miss A Revolution
7. Take Me Over
8. Pharaohs & Pyramids
9. Saturdays
10. Hearts On Fire
11. Need You Now

TV On The Radio
I've never had a chance to see TV On The Radio live so I was pretty excited about this. I never thought when I heard "Staring At The Sun" several years ago that this would be a band that would close out a festival to thousands of fans but after several great releases since then, it was appropriate. And they didn't disappoint, playing with a good inspirational fire behind them as they tackled a couple songs from each of their albums, a handful of standouts from their latest "Nine Types Of Light", a fantastic version of "A Method" with special guest appearance from members of Shabazz Palaces and an incredible cover of Fugazi's "Waiting Room". It really was a fitting way to end a great day of music.

TV On The Radio Setlist:
1. Halfway Home
2. Dancing Choose
3. Wrong Way
4. Blues From Down Here
5. New Cannonball Blues
6. Will Do
7. Caffeinated Consciousness
8. Keep Your Heart
10. Young Liars
11. Staring At The Sun
11. Repetition
12. Wolf Like Me
13. A Method (with Shabazz Palaces)
14. Waiting Room (Fugazi Cover)
15. Satellite

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