Saturday, August 12, 2006

Pitchfork Day 2

Continuing my review of the Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago, IL, July 29 & 30:

Sunday was a little different. Most of the friends (including my cousin) that I knew from Saturday were not going on Sunday. I was, however, more excited for Sunday's lineup (beyond the Mountain Goats on Saturday) and I got going early.

Fortunately it was cool and stormy. If those clouds had been over Phoenix that early (noonish) we'd be in for a downpour; as it stands I felt some drops a few miles North but at the festival we just had some clouds (yay for shade) and cooler temperatures for the first hour or two (it was about 73 F at this time.)

My extra tickets went very quickly (I could've sold twice as many at twice the price) and I actually waited in line to get in. Doors opened around 12:30 and I was going to wander a bit when I remembered that I had not brought enough shirts to have a clean one for the plane ride (only 16 hours off, at this point) so I got a Mission of Burma one and headed to stage C and chatted with someone I met Friday and waited for

Tapes 'n Tapes. They actually started a few minutes early, even with the odd intro from their internet marketing manager (actually pictured! wearing a suit jacket.) He commaneded us to blog about and post pictures from the set. This included threats ("If you don't I will kill your dog... if you don't have a dog I will hurt the weakest member of your family" [paraphrased]) which was kinda funny... because, I mean, if you're not on the internet for ridiculous threats then for what? (Continued: and if you're not on the internet, how do you know about Tapes 'n Tapes/Pitchfork/the music festival?)

There was music too. I like their songs. Their set was good. Nothing killer (ha!) but a good start to the day.

Danielson was up next on stage A. It's achronological to compare Sufjan to Danielson but that'll work for most people (Sufjan got much of his musical sense/ideas playing with Daniel Smith's series of "Danielson..." bands.) Only there's none of the slow, soft folk and Daniel's voice is more Coyne than Stevens. So big, bright, poppy and full of orchestral color. They played a good set consisting mostly (if not entirely) of songs from the excellent Ships.

I saw them in Phoenix on what was actually a hotter day, in a packed venue without air conditioning... I spent half that concert outside (where you could hear near as well) and I left this one early, to get a good spot for

Jens Lekman. He was funny, telling amusing, aloof stories and playing lovely chamber pop songs. He had a full backing band, complete with people playing sax, trumpet and trombone which was great for songs like "You Are the Light." I wanted to leave early but didn't.

I still was fairly close for the National. The park was starting to fill up but the stages were not yet packed tight. The National had a violinist with them and all but two of their songs were from Alligator. Matt Berninger managed the crazy screaming climaxes of songs like "Mr. November" and "Lit Up" as well as I could've imagined. They were a clear highlight.

I met up with a friend at the start of the National and we headed over to the labels tent (where he worked the previous day.) It was surprisingly cool so I stuck around and browsed. This was basically outlet stores for Sub Pop, Absolutely Kosher, Southern Records and other indies.

OK, I looked it up. It was called the WLUW Record Fair. Yeah, I forgot, they also had a good deal of used vinyl and CDs from various vendors (they offered to hold the vinyl if you wanted though I saw several people carting records around the park.)

I had glanced at the Biz 3 Stage (where CSS and then Cage were playing) but it looked to packed for me to try. Liars were the mainstage band and I wasn't too upset about missing them.

After the record fair we wandered around Flatstock for a while. They had some interesting posters but what was best about that was the shows they advertised.

Aesop Rock & Mr. Lif were the next artists I caught. That was nuts. They did my some of my favorites like "11:35" and "No Regrets." And they did Lif's songs too, like "Brothaz" and "Phantom." DJ Big Wiz (or something, I forget/don't care) did his own scratch solo from scratch... which turned out almost entirely differently than the one he had done in Phoenix the previous Monday. I considered leaving early (they were my number 2 artists for Sunday) but I'm glad I didn't as they closed with "Daylight" which got a great response.

I ran over to stage C for Mission of Burma. A no-nonsense set of the old hits ("Academy Fight Song" and "That's When I Reach For My Revolver") and second-incarnation tracks ("The Enthusiast" and "2wice.") The music was strong and hard and driving.

After Burma I was hot and tired from the jumping. I went and got some Phat Thai and sat in the shade. Devendra Banhart (not picutred) was on the mainstage and though I like his music I'm a little sick of him. He was at ArthurFest (saw the whole set), he was at Coachella (saw a few songs) and he was here (saw almost nothing, sort heard from afar most of the set.) The noodles were good, though. I ran into another friend from the day before and we sat in the shade and chatted and relaxed before heading out for

Yo La Tengo. Buy this point there were many more folks around to be waiting at the stages and we ran into some other folks who were getting ready to leave. Anyway, Yo La Tengo. They played mostly songs from their upcoming album I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass like "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind" which is about 12 minutes and loud and droney and poppy. Most of the new songs sounded kinda light, though and I wasn't entirely pleased. I'll bet they are another band that really should be seen in a small little dive or something.

I forget what I did next. I might've used the restrooms (I brought my own sanitizer for the second day) and gotten some water. I dunno. Not a fan of Spoon (not pictured) so I took

pictures of the grounds and the crowds and

myself (go Tigers!) and got in a good spot for

Os Mutantes. I was not very familiar with them. They sounded like fun sixties semi-psychedelic pop with lots of orchestral color. They had two drummers (both playing kits, even.) There were a lot of people there. There were even a few crowd-surfing.

Eventually I got home. I even slept for an hour before walking to the L stop and riding that for half an hour and waiting in the airport for my sold-out 5 am flight home. I read Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan and listened to music (not pictured.) Eventually we landed and I took a shuttle van to my parent's house, got my car and drove home and then sat around for a bit before falling asleep around 9 am.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pitchfork Day 1

I'm not gonna promise to come back and post more text this time. I mean, I would like to but you know as well as I do that it's probably not going to happen. But here are some pictures and some text inspired by said pictures. And inspired by missing pictures. (Note: the pics are about 25% larger than shown, so you can view image for a slightly larger shot.)

I hear there was about 18,000 people. It was about 95 F with high humidity. Certainly high for me (from Arizona) but it seemed high even for Midwest folks. The water was cheap, the food was decent and not so bad in price, the people overall were fun and there wasn't much of the pushing and forcing to the front.

The first band I saw was actually Chin Up Chin Up (not pictured.) I missed Hot Machines (not seen, even) entirely, arriving around 1:45 pm. We took the bus down from Bucktown and then I had to sell an extra pair of tickets... which didn't take much effort at all what with the show being sold out. Anyway, then I got inside and saw the last song or two by Chin Up Chin Up and then moved to Stage C for Man Man (pictured above.) They were weird. Covered with war paint and feathers, jumping around and being loud. Around this time I parted ways with my cousin (not pictured, but he could be if he so desired) and met up with friends from Ohia (not pictured) to see Band of Horses (not pictured.) I enjoyed them better than Man Man, partially because I was more familiar with their music. I wasn't, however, fully commited to the set and left Stage A early to get a good spot for the Mountain Goats (pictured below.)

Oh, yeah. There are two stages, A and C (plus the dance/whatever tent, B.) The two stages were completely offset, a band would finish their set from stage C and then within about 5 minutes the next band would start on stage A. Even right up at the front you could sort of see the other stage (askew, that is) and you could sort of hear it if they were playing loudly. It wasn't terribly conducive for really listening. So when Band of Horses closed with "Funeral" I knew they were playing it but I can't really comment on how it sounded because I was in the wrong place.

The set by the Mountain Goats was one of the most amazing I have ever seen. John was in a great mood, hilariously telling stories as intros to his songs, jumping around and actually kinda acting like a goofy rock star in front of a large, receptive crowd. I mean, he asked us to sing "No Children" and it is shocking to learn that there are thousands of other people that know this song that well. The setlist was ridiculously great including my favorite, "Source Decay" (which I've never heard live) other songs such as "Dance Music" and "Cubs in Five" and several new songs. They closed with "Terror Song." I was in shock and overwhelmed with joy almost the entire time.

Franklin Bruno (see Nothing Painted Blue, the Extra Glenns, Franklin Bruno) played piano or guitar for most of the songs.

After the Mountain Goats I needed to get some water and cool off and calm down. I really wanted to see Destroyer (see below, kinda, if you squint/imagine it) but... well, the Goats are a tough act to follow.

I did hear Destroyer from afar, thus not really getting into the set. It sounded good enough, though.

Then there was some resting in the shade and eating and chatting with new friends while Art Brut (not pictured) and Ted Leo (not pictured) + The Pharmacists (also not pictured) performed. I did catch a song or two by Ted Leo but I failed to noticed him bloodying himself.

I did see the Walkmen (pictured above.) They were good. They played songs like "The Rat" and "Thinking of a Dream I Had." And a couple guys from Man Man came out to play horns (not pictured.)

Next up was the Futureheads. The sun was starting to set but it was not yet starting to cool off. Who am I kidding, it never really cooled off. The loss of the sun (not pictured) was nice, though.

Decent Days and Nights
View (I can't figure out what I meant.)
Back to the Sea
A to B
Favours for Favours
? (I did not recognize this one and I failed to record any lyric snippets.)
Skip to the End
Hounds of Love
He Knows
Carnival Kids
Man Ray

Then I saw the Silver Jews (not pictured.) There was resting and there was "Animal Shapes," "Horseleg Swastikas" and "There Is A Place." It was good but I can see how it would be much better in a club.

We then walked around a lot trying to catch a cab and then we found one and we got home and it was fun.


Heh. OK, I went to Pitchfork Music Festival, several other great shows and read some books.

I am planning on writing a review of what I saw at Pitchy and posting some pictures but I've been lazy/busy/whatevs.

So, uhh, soon, eh.

Mellowdrone, Monsters are Waiting @ Modified

modwheelmood opened the show; their set was kinda like their songs; they took a while to get going, had some cool bits in the middle, then they kinda trailed off. There were three guys in the band; all played with pedals a lot, sometimes doing only that. The songs I enjoyed the most where the ones where they used the electric guitar and actually used it and the guy playing bass really played it and such. Also they covered "Home" by Depeche Mode.

Monsters Are Waiting played second. One of the guys was one of the founding members of Eve 6. But they were good. Really. All three bands sounded well matched, atmospheric indie rock; the vocalist at times reminded me of Karen O or Emily Haines in her stage demeanor (but certainly not Karen's vocal style.) I dunno. They never really flat out rocked but they built some pretty damned good songs. Oh yeah, also they covered "I Wanna Be Adored" and pulled it off.

Mellowdrone sounded fuller, better and more together than either opener. They knew what they were doing and they did it well. Again rather atmospheric but they brought more of the rock. I don't know. I'm tired. I don't know what I'm saying. I liked them.