Pitchfork Music Festival 2009: Video!

So, I shot some limited video this weekend of a few choice sets I was at – most of them are in the pit. There’s a video of the pit at Fucked Up, two of The Mae Shi (including the one of the singer that I talked about yesterday, and one of the Thermals.

Obviously, they’re not necessarily the best shot videos, but I was doing my best to hold on to the camera.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my final Pitchfork thoughts, after I get a day to decompress a bit.

Enjoy!

The pit during Fucked Up’s performance on Saturday.

Under the tarp during The Mae Shi’s performance.

The singer of The Mae Shi jumps into the audience right in front of us.

The pit during The Thermals.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2009, Day 3

The Mae Shi: Three dudes with spastic middle school energy. Apparently they’re forming a different band after today’s set? I’m not too clear on that.

Totally great moments of this early afternoon gig. They threw a giant tarp in the audience that we covered ourselves with, and the vocalist walked right through the audience singing one of their jams.

The Mae Shi brought some of their friends out, rap duo Yea Kid and Big Static to help them finish their set. The band’s singer came into the crowd yet again for the finale, and plopped down right in front of me. I took some video I’ll upload later.

Overall, it was bit silly, but a fun way to kick off the afternoon.

Frightened Rabbit: Definately the favorite for those who aren’t here to see the Flaming Lips. I was a bit far from my vantage point, but their mix sounded poor. I admire the band’s earnestness, but again, I think it would be best to see them in a small space. Heartbreak is personal. Not for thousands in a field.

The Thermals: I’ve wanted to see them quite a while, so I got a good position center-left about 40 feet back. The highlights of the set were the band’s four covers from the 90’s: opening Sonic Youth’s “100%”, Nirvana’s wonderful b-side “Sappy (Verse Chorus Verse)”, The Breeders “Saints” and hilariously (but totally straight faced) “Basket Case” by Green Day. Also, there were kickass cuts from their last two records, including “A Pillar of Salt” and ending their set with the ‘woah-ay-oh’s’ of “Now We Can See”.

Grizzly Bear: I didn’t see much else on Sunday before I got in position for these guys. One thing is for certain: they’ve grown immensely as a group since I last saw them two years ago. Their material is so delicate and complex it sounds almost impossible to replicate live. Not true. “Knife” sounds just as hollow and haunted as it does on wax, “Southern Point” retains that strange bounce, and those four-part harmonies? Astounding.

The Flaming Lips: Don’t get me wrong, I love the Lips, but if you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it enough. I didn’t stick around too long, but it’s nice to see that they were trying out some material from their new record due this fall. I still geeked for the confetti explosions and balloons. It’s always a spectacle. Wayne’s ball and the customary “Race For The Prize” was fun too. I had my front row Lips experience already, and I don’t think I was ready for one today, though.

Final Thoughts:

Pitchfork 2009 was probably the most pleasurable, drama-free festival I’ve been to. Musically, most acts were exciting, the crowds were relatively friendly and the food and drinks were cheap. The kiosks and booths were relevant too. Great time this year. I’ll be back tomorrow with a supplemental portion with videos.

I’m looking forward to next year already.

Photos:

The Mae Shi

The Thermals

The Flaming Lips

Pitchfork Music Festival 2009, Day 2

Cymbals Eat Guitars: They were victims of a bad mix. Incredibly young looking band with a HUGE sound. It was clear after the first few notes that they were better on record than live. We didn’t stick around too long. They may need some more time on the road before they play another festival like this.

Fucked Up: LIKEOHMIGOD! Simply amazing, and it came in the early hours of Day Two. As the set got off to a rather auspicious beginning when Pink Eyes smashed a Pepsi can on his head. A giant pit formed immediately. He spent the next hour at the edge of the crowd and occasionally dove in, much to the chagrin of his fellow crowd surfers (there were many). Highlights include “Twice Born”, “Crusades” and a particularly powerful “Black Albino Bones”. Pink Eyes had the best quote so far, commenting to the crowd: “You’re better then that Animal Collective record that just sounds like Phish.” AWESOME.

DOOM: Heard a ton about him before, but never really heard of any of his material before.

Side note: The crowd is at their highest levels ever since I started attending the festival. It’s remarkable to see how this fest has grown since then.

Anyways, DOOM. Right.

He hit the stage in an entire outfit that had what looked like camo leaves on it – kind of incredible to see – along with a single hype man and a DJ. It was a spectacular hour of hip-hop. I’m not familiar with his song titles, but I’ll definately be checking out his material soon. It’s always interesting to see hip hop acts at festivals like this – kind of a bit of awkwardness mixed in with surrealism. It shouldn’t though, because all bands invited to this festival belong, regardless of how much they deviate from the terrible umbrella term ‘indie rock’.

Lindstrøm: Caught the tail end of the laptopper-dude set. Lots of high energy club stuff. Nice to hear for a few minutes.

Matt and Kim: Hands down, the set of the day belongs to these two. The keyboard and drum duo is infused with so much positive energy that it’s impossible to not dance and sing your heart out. Say what you want about them being elementary or samey-sounding, but during the set ending “Daylight”, you’d almost think they would be able to generate just enough energy to keep the setting sun up just a few minutes longer.

The National: I only stayed a few songs into these guys, despite them being at the top of my list before I came. Sticking around for Matt and Kim set me back pretty far for them. I’ve yet to see them in an ideal setting – two festival gigs and no clubs. Matt Berninger’s vocal stylings are better tailored to the nuances of smaller places. I can’t help but feel that the intimacy is lost on a larger crowd. With that said, the set was relying heavily on both “Alligator” and “Boxer” tracks.

Final Thoughts:

Day Two was a total success. The weather cooperated for the most part (some drizzling here or there), it was relaxed, and the crowds, although large, weren’t terribly overwhelming. Bring on tomorrow!

Photos:

Fucked Up

DOOM

Matt and Kim

Pitchfork Music Festival 2009, Day 1

Gates:

I got there incredibly early for two reasons –

1. My tickets were at Will Call and I didn’t feel like waiting in an incredibly long line to get them when the fest started.

2. I was bored.

Kind of the crowd you’d expect. Vintage clothing or ‘ironic’ t-shirts (some kid has some day-glo concoction from a Land of the Ozarks water park on), dyed or angular hair and backpacks and messengers of all varieties.

Some dude could even pass as Dov Charney’s doppleganger. (Wait, WAS that Dov Charney?)

Yo La Tengo: The breezy, overcast evening (for us, at least) got off to an equally dreary evening when YLT took the stage. Their first few numbers edged on sleepy, including the classic “Autumn Sweater” but that ended with the beginning of what woukd be several of the band’s more exciting cuts including “Mr. Tough”. One of their new cuts off of their upcoming September disc was dedicated to Ron Santo. It was the right set for that point of the evening.

The Jesus Lizard: David Yow is not a young man, but don’t tell him that. He looks like Alan Rickman with a drinking problem. The forty-maybe-fifty-something began his band’s first hometown show by jumping straight into the crowd. It was an incredible sight to see, and hopefuly the first of many “Holy Shit!” moments of the weekend. . These dudes haven’t lost anything in their long layoff. Razor-sharp rockers like “Mouth Breather” and the dirgy “Then Comes Dudley” sound just as good as they do on record. Okay, I lied. Maybe better.

Both bands took part in “Write The Night” where ticket buyers were provided the opportunity to vote on the setlist they wanted to hear.

We’ll see you for Day Two!

Photos:

Yo La Tengo

The Jesus Lizard

Astonishing

As most of you know, I see The Hold Steady quite often, and in several different cities. After graduating college recently, Kim and I decided it would be cool to travel to New York City to see some of the shows of the band’s four night stand there. The first two on June 8th and 9th were at Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan, and the second set was at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (North Six, if you’re nasty – or old school).

We did do another series of ‘VBlogs’ or video scrapbooks of our road journeys, which are always sort of fun because it brings the show to those who couldn’t get there.

Anyways, the first night at MHOW was extra memorable. As soon as the show was over, Thunder Road came on the PA, which instituted a mass sing along by the hundred or so people that were left in the theater. Then, “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” by Bruce Springsteen came on and ensued in the largest dance party ever. It was so impressive that the band even came out to thank those who stayed.

Anyways, here’s our VBlog from Wednesday night. Watch it in it’s entirety. It’s a bit shaky, obviously, but there’s a couple cameos that are certainly not worth missing.

One more thing: GO SEE THIS BAND. There’s nothing else like it. In fact, they’re playing Chicago’s Taste of Randolph Street on June 21. It’s a 10 dollar suggested donation. BE THERE.

Without further adieu…

Theresa Andersson at SPACE – Evanston, Illinois 3/13/09

I never really understood the whole loop pedal thing. As far as I was concerned, that little technological marvel was reserved for that jam band goon Keller Williams. (Sorry hippie kids, no bueno.)

That was until I heard Theresa Andersson.

As I’ve said very recently on this website, I’ve become enamored by the New Orleans by-way-of New Orleans performers densely layered pop compositions. She manages to create a full and varied sound using a combination of Guitar, violin, dulcimer, drums, and even her record player.

Last night, she brought her act to the trendy Evanston hotspot, SPACE, performing a set of songs off her latest record, Hummingbird Go!, as well as a few choice covers.

It’s safe to say she brought the house down.

picture-11

Andersson took the stage and broke into the Nina Simone classic “Be My Husband” accompanied only by tambourine. The sparceness of the performance coupled by the intimate nightclub setting was absolutely bonechilling. Not long after, she launched into the loop-pedal exercises of “Na Na Na” and the song she performed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the YouTube hit, “Birds Fly Away”. She explained that the TV show asked her to cut it down, and responded by an exhilarating extended version that ignited the crowd.

She likes to show off her technology. She broke from her set to show how her loop pedals worked on occasion, and also performed “Introducing The Kitchenettes”, where she introduced her backing band of the same name. In reality, its just Andersson looping four seperate pitches of her voice to sound full and robust. It worked, and fascinating to watch unfold in real time.

The show’s most transcendent moment came with her set’s closing song, the Crosby, Stills and Nash cover “Find the Cost of Freedom”. Andersson layed it all out on the line. Her voice, as rich as a classic soul singer’s, engulfed the room and proved that there is plenty of talent out there that deserves much wider recognition than playing shows in coffee shop sized venues.

View more photos of the set on our Flickr page.