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  • Pitchfork Festival 2012: Grimes, Danny Brown, Sleigh Bells & More
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Grimes & Alexis Krauss

At ginormous festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, it’s pretty tough to craft a narrative — when there’s something like 200 bands playing over a weekend, it’s next to impossible to really sew a singular thread through the weekend’s performances. Pitchfork Music Festival is much smaller — 45 bands in three days — so, it’s a lot easier to derive the daily theme. And while Saturday brought forth another occurrence of Friday’s soaking, poncho-industry-fueling rainstorms, Saturday’s lineup also featured a few tack-worthy talking points, with Grimes going head to head with Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Flying Lotus and Sleigh Bells catering to the youth’s culture’s unquenchable thirst for electronic music, and more understated, but brilliant, acts Nicolaas Jaar and Chromatics playing to crowds larger than they are normally accustomed. Check out Carmelo Espanola’s photos up top and read more about Saturday below.

Hairy, loud acts like Psychic Paramount, the Atlas Moth and the ever-energetic Cloud Nothings got things going Saturday, but the interesting juxtaposition of Lotus Plaza on one stage and Atlas Sound on the other attracted most of the early attention. Lotus Plaza’s set showcased Lockett Pundt’s increasing confidence as a performer, while Bradford Cox hammed it up hard in the rain, using his set as both a platform for his reverberating solo work and as a lectern for his freewheeling rambles (“Get her room temperature water, not cold water,” Bradford Cox said as he spotted someone having some trouble in the audience. “Cold water will put her into shock. That’s something I learned in Boy Scouts before they kicked me out for being a queer.”) The green stage is probably the best-sounding stage at the festival, for whatever reason, and that fact set up Flying Lotus and Sleigh Bells for bombastic sets; both artists are basically in their natural environment, with respect to the audience, at Pitchfork Festival, with Sleigh Bells’ drawing the day’s biggest crowd. Though I don’t think Flying Lotus’s show benefits from the hypeman (is this a thing he does now? “Were we in Africa just now?” the hypeman screamed as FlyLo dropped something vaguely tribal-sounding) he gets bonus points for leaving the vocal of “Headlines” untouched and sampling other drug-addled, festival-approved production in his mixes, tracks like “I’m God,” “Yonkers” and his well-known “I Feel Like Dying” remix of Lil Wayne.

The Blue Stage hosted acts that got less attention from the festival at large, but arguably drew the most passionate fanbases. Nico Jaar showcased a sharp set of electronic music, establishing an interesting tension between the digital aspects of his sound and his band’s jazz-leaning acumen. Schoolboy Q riled up the crowd, playing the class clown, attempting to namecheck the Chicago neighborhoods. “Who’s from the north side? Who’s from the south side?” he asked, before realizing it was pointless. “Who’s from the good part of Chicago? Who’s from the bad part of Chicago?” he asked, laughing, before dropping the line of the set, “I fuck with white people.” Q passed the torch to Danny Brown, who has, in the course of two years or so, gone from a notable, if not memorable, performer to one of rap’s most entertaining live acts.

As it was growing closer to 8:30 when G!YBE and Grimes were set to perform, the grounds very much seemed like a two-way thoroughfare with people in stuffed-animal backpacks going one way, and older fans, several with toddlers in noise-cancelling-headphones, going the other (we’ll let you do the work there). Last year’s festival saw venerable acts like Superchunk and Guided By Voices stand out among their younger, less-experienced peers. One could certainly argue that those bands have a lot more at stake — Guided By Voices eventually used the momentum from that performance (and others) to successfully tour again and record a new album. With respect to that theory, Godspeed! You Black Emperor sounded pristine, the audience along for every step of the group’s entrancing, dark build. But across the field, you could hear peals of Grimes, who was charming her way through one of her best performances ever, complete with Grimes-look-alike dancers and a more fully-wrought live setup and sound thanks to help from pal Blood Diamonds. When her set ended, though, Godspeed! was entering their final movement, and together we went into the darkness.

Comments (11)
  1. The most memorable moment of day two for me was losing consciousness about five songs into Chromatics. I’ve gotten lightheaded at concerts before, so when the head rush started I knew what was going on. I just needed to sit down for a few minutes and I would be fine but I was in a tightly packed crowed about 8 rows from the stage so I didn’t have much room. I tried to tough it out but it got pretty bad, I eventually HAD to sit down and I actually passed out for a second. Luckily I was with a nurse who helped drag me through the crowd. My vision was blurry and my legs were numb, I collapsed near a beer vendor and was able to sit up against the stand. I felt fine in a minute but I still ended up going to the first aid tent which turned out great because I got free power aid and granola bars, plus I got to listen to Hot Chip while I was in there. Also I later heard the Chromatics set ended a few songs later so I didn’t miss much.

    A funny thing was I lit up a blunt(certainly didn’t help my cause) during the first song(lady) and some random dude asked me to hit it. I let him get a rip, and several minutes later he watched me fall to the ground. I can’t imagine what he thought he must have smoked. I hope he didn’t freak out.

    I am going back for more today, although I might stay on the outskirts of the crowds with the other old people. Hopefully I’m able to stay upright.

    Also, is that girl from Cults sexy or what? I had no idea.

    • Also, I’d much rather be at the fest right now watching Unknown Mortal Orchestra live than watching them on the feed, but my buddy I’m going with is dragging ass coming to my house. Fuck You Jeremy…

      …just kidding, get here as soon as you can.

    • Same thing happened to me and about 30 other people during Radiohead at Coachella. Three rows from the front the crowds are so tight and the fans are crazy.

  2. “holding my head. keeping it g [...] whatever ‘keeping it g’ means to me. i’ve sorta zoned in on my own definition.” plb102 wrote that on December 27, 2011– the same day he wrote the “first love” letter he published last week. Both missives, along with Pitchfork Festival Day 2′s comment assessment itself, carry the same spirit of confident, open-minded redefinition; he’s living in his own world, but also fascinated with what’s around him. Currently, his Stereogum bio reads: nothing. In plb102-speak, that’s not a statement of ignorance but rather one of wisdom. — 9.5

    It’s also not only really rude of “Jeremy” to hold you up, but for him to not respond to your above comment letting us know that he eventually arrived.

  3. i would be the older fans with noise cancelling headphone toddler crowd ( if i was there, oh G!YBE come play asia will ya??)

  4. My favorite part was getting to kiss Alexis Krauss on the mouth.

  5. I thought Wild Flag’s set was amazing. They translate so well live. Really bummed that I missed Cloud Nothings…I caught the last song and it sounded spectacular.

  6. Not a word on Hot Chip? It’s too bad, they were my favorite set of the day…outside of the moment everyone said “fuck it” during Cloud Nothings’ set, stood there in the pouring rain and sang the chorus to “Wasted Days” when their audio cut out.

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