As I noted previously, I went solo on Sunday. Boyo had other things (though he was somewhat disappointed not to be able to go). You’ve seen my so-called photographs. I considered taking a better camera than my phone, but even the one we havve isn’t much better and I didn’t want to carry too much stuff anyway.
Due to scheduling issues, I arrived late to the fest, but in fact exactly when I wanted to arrive: right around 2:30, in time to see Kurt Vile and the Violators start their set on the Green Stage. I moved in as close as I could get to take a couple of photographs, but then backed out of the sonic death zone and was able to listen to the music. Vile sounds like Iggy Pop, and the combination of his voice, the driving guitar and the lyrics, as well as the punishing sun, put me in mind of a lost highway out west, and a drifter standing by the side of the road.
I listened to most of the set, then went over to the Blue Stage, where I tried to listen to Twin Sister. Operative word “tried.” The lead singer’s voice – a high-pitched baby girl sound – put me off. I stayed long enough to snap a picture of her Crystal Gayle-length hair, but was not interested enough to stick around much longer.
Back to the sun-pummelled main area, where OFWGKTA was starting their set on the Red Stage. Angry, violent, misogynistic rap is not my thing, and I found it faintly disturbing that the crowd in front of the stage was so decidedly into it. (The band was called out in some literature being handed out by an anti-violence coalition that was a partner at the festival. It seemed to me like mild rebuke of the festival organizsers, kind of a “the band is free to make whatever music they want, but we don’t have to like it” thing.)
I wandered the merch booths, looking for something for Boyo and Girlie. I wanted a Pitchfork Music Festival t-shirt for him to commemorate his attendance; and a little necklace or something for her. Found both, though I was sad to find out that the official gear tent took cash only. I still had enough for some food later without hitting up the ATM, so Boyo got his shirt, but seriously, people, what fucking century is this?
By the time I had finished wandering, the next act I really wanted to see, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti, was setting up on the Green Stage. I moved in pretty close for photos, but by the time they started playing, I was seriously concerned that my phone was going to burst into flames, so I retreated to the nearest shade to listen. Very solid punk roots with nice melodic turns, kind of a psychedelic surf guitar sound. Also, keeping with the theme of the day so far, Ariel Rosenberg’s hair was phenomenal and bizarre.
I took a side trip back to the Blue Stage and checked out Baths, a one-man mixing venture. I thought his blend of African-sounding choral vocals and dance rrhythms might work in a club setting, but it was too hot to dance (though that didn’t stop some people, of course) and I didn’t think it worked too well. I will say that the man himself seemed to really be getting into it, although his moves looked like they weren’t quite jibing with the beats.
Back to Red Stage for a glimpse of Superchunk, who I think of as sort of “old masters” of post-punk. I basically missed their heyday in the 90’s, but my understanding is that their latest album is kind of a distillation of everything they used to be with a new gloss. The jangly guitars sounded a lot like 90s college rock to me, exactly what you would imagine a summer festival would sound like. I may check out their newest release.
I heard Deerhunter from inside the Axe tent, where I spent far too long waiting for my phone to recharge to a decent level; and then from outside in the wter bottle refill line. As a result, I don’t think I fully appreciated their stuff. I think if they were British, their sound might be called shoegaze – it sounded like very blissy pop mixed with solid rock riffs.
I grabbed a couple of pulled pork tacos and potato chips (health food, yeah!) and tried to check out Toro Y Moi on the Blue Stage. Another one-man mixing crew whose blurb on the Pitchfork Music Festival site sounded pretty interesting. Getting near enough to hear was like trying to walk through the world’s largest frat party – seriously, hundreds of people standing around jabbering at the top of their lungs – and I started to feel a bit claustrophobic, so I just gave up.
Besides, I wanted to try to get a reasonable view of Cut Copy, who were going up next on the Red Stage. Yeah, didn’t happen. But they were immensely audible, and oh so good. They have a sound very similar to 80’s disco – vocals like Tears for Fears, maybe, pop synth and pounding rhythms. But such rhythms. It was impossible not to bounce along with them. I predict that Cut Copy will be on the turntable 25 years from now at Teens Retro nights in clubs, and everyone will be dancing their brains out. (The band almost caused a riot when they announced, 20 minutes in, that their set was over… then added “Just kidding.”)
As the Cut Copy set proceeded, I made my way over toward the Green Stage because the main event was setting up: TV on the Radio. I have only recently found out about the band – always learning, that’s me – so I don’t know a lot of their stuff, or their history. They kicked off at 8:30 with three high-energy songs in a row – which I, of course, couldn’t name, but which I am informed were Halfway Home, Dancing Choose, and Wrong Way – then moved to some more downtempo, soulful tunes, including a couple I recognized: Will Do, Keep Your Heart. Their song Young Liars belongs on a soundtrack for a modern Western (musically, at least; I’m not sure about the lyrics). Like Saturday’s Destroyer, TV on the Radio had a horn section – one trombone, actually – but unlike Destroyer, he totally rocked. Also, nott for nothing, but Kyp Malone, the guitarist, sports a truly prodigious and impressive beard. I was in awe.
I decided to make my way out a little early to avoid the crush, but I was listening all the way back to the L stop. Truly a great close to a great festival. And so it’s done. I missed several of Sunday’s bands, but I heard a lot of great stuff and got only slightly singed. Wish you all could have joined me!