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.
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.
The Mae Shi
The Flaming Lips