By Amrit Singh & Brandon Stosuy
Aaaaand we’re back. Quite a weekend in Chicago, and this is the post to put a Fork in our coverage of this year’s party in Union Park. For day last, the threat of storms were nonexistent, but after that sun set, and the weekend drew to a close, it appeared that a delayed flight from Australia might be a bigger festival-buster than the promised rain — or, at least for fans of electro ’80s-inspired heartthrobs Cut Copy.
When we arrived at the B stage — “B” stands for “best stage of the weekend,” with its scruffier bands (No Age, HEALTH, High Places, Fuck Buttons, King Khan etc.) and ample shade trees — we were told by a friend that the Aussie New Order-y quartet might not make it. The temporary replacement? Well, an ad hoc group pairing frontmen Bradford Cox and King Khan with the Ponys’ Jered Gummere on drums and occasional spastic vocal intrusions by Jay Reatard. You probably saw the pics. An amusing way to stall, but the generic bluesy garage stuff really was just an amusing way to stall. As Cox put it, “We’re stuck with you … and you’re stuck with us.” Or so it seemed.
After about 25 minutes, King Cox stopped, Bradford offered a few safety tips then announced that Cut Copy would be on in five minutes. This is when what remained of the audience lost their shit. By the time Cut Copy started playing, the crowd had swelled closer to it’s original size … and threw flowers at the stage, screamed like they were seeing the Beatles/Timberlake, dancing in a huge undulating throng.
There are a lot of festivals. There are a lot of bands playing these festivals, but maybe not as many different bands as you’d hope considering the amount of festivals (breaking news: festivals lineups are getting really repetitious…). Now and then, though, something transcends the ho-hum everyday and simple mechanics of these events. That’s what happened when Cut Copy dug into their abridged, but tight and exciting because abridged, set: All the disappointment and pent up energy that seemed like it would find no outlet was transformed into a bouncing mass. Were they good? Yes. They were good at Coachella too, but this time there was an urgency that didn’t exist last time. They were obviously feeding off the amazing energy coming from the crowd and vice versa.
Earlier in the day, another act transcended expectations.
Dinosaur Jr. Man. Hearing Lou on post-Lou songs like Green Mind‘s “The Wagon” and Where You Been‘s “Out There” remains very surreal. Hearing J’s slacker melodies and extended guitar solo remains very amazing. It was also strange to be standing next to Eric Gaffney who was watching intently and at one point seemed to be telling the guy next to him that he’d taught them everything they knew. Speaking of strange, the weirdness of seeing the subject of “The Freed Pig” rocking out with the guy who wrote “The Freed Pig” soon dries up — Beyond was a good record, making this much less than a pure nostalgia kick, though it has to be said: “Little Fury Things” brought the biggest shivers.
Otherwise: Spiritualized electric were suitably over-the-top and more fun than they were while battling sound issues in Indio (“Shine A Light,” “Soul On Fire” = great). Dirty Projectors were scary tight, Longstreth’s guitar tones and those three-part amazing harmonies perfect in the early afternoon. And that new song “Sunrise,” which we heard at Music Hall a few months ago, is making the wait for the new record unbearable. Dave, Amber, Angel, and Brian dipped in from Portland to be in Chicago this weekend. We’re glad for that fact.
High Places continue to get better and more assured in a live setting (and their new songs are just really fucking good). Boris brought their pink drums and gong and smoke machine. HEALTH brought their energy. Ghostface Killah & Raekwon did their best to battle the jetlag of having just arrived from an international flight, and did it well. Spoon were Spoon. That band’s so consistently great that it would almost be more interesting if they had a bad night. They didn’t.
There wasn’t too much mind-blowing activity, but there were solid sets and enough magic moments (Animal Collective, Cut Copy, King Khan, Dinosaur, the Hold Steady) to remind you why you keep shunning sleep and a normal eating schedule to attend these things. As always, the Pitchfork Festival remains impeccably run and perfectly sized in Union Park. Thanks for having us, guys and ladies. See you next year.
KING KHAN & THE SHRINES
LES SAVY FAV
GHOSTFACE KILLAH & RAEKWON