The final day of 2010′s Pitchfork Festival was just as hot as Saturday, with stages that needed quick shots of energy to pull the audience out of its languor. Girls were pretty but wispy — though they sounded stronger as I walked over to Washed Out, who had the audience clapping along to his set. It also helped that Ernest Greene plays to the audience, not his instruments. Beach House played with several glittering, large diamonds behind them for their second Pitchfork Festival show (they played two years ago). Victoria Legrand stayed half hidden by layers of wavy hair, but Alex Scally paused to warn us: “If anyone has dry underwear by the end of this song, you have to leave the festival,” he said, before playing “Silver Soul.” Local Natives’ harmonies sounded impressively tight, despite some sound problems.
Lightning Bolt played the main stage at 4:15, and they were exactly what Sunday needed to wake up. They usually play on the floor and not on stage, but that wasn’t feasible at this show, so the band inched as close to the front of the stage as possible. It wasn’t close enough — our photographer Graeme Flegenheimer was kicked out of the photo pit as the audience threatened to jump the barrier. Maybe you couldn’t have seen this from the other end of the festival, or from the live feed, but you could hear it everywhere on the grounds, a sort of gut rumble that begged you to move closer. It was a weird transition to St. Vincent, but not as weird as you’d think: She played with new arrangements to keep things fresh, and her live saxophone player had something going on — hardware or software — that made every note sound like a car horn.
Major Lazer picked up the energy again, though, there’s no way they couldn’t have. Diplo only took breaks to ask the audience to applaud the Major Lazer crew (minus Switch), and to yell at people at dance. He even threatened to fire his publicist if she didn’t dance on stage (she did), and jumped on his table with enough force to shut down the music for a second. And that was Diplo. Major Lazer has Skerrit Bwoy and two backup dancers also made of pure muscle (Skirrit is probably 50% muscle, 50% Hennessy). There were people doing lion dances on either side of Diplo. “Let me see some crazy ballerina shit,” Skerrit Bwoy instructed two ballerinas, who showed up on stage as well. If this sounds chaotic, it was. If it sounds awesome, it was that too. There was only time for some water and shade, and a quick wander over to Big Boi before heading back to the main stage to get ready for Pavement (luckily I was still able to hear “Ms. Jackson” and “Bombs Over Bagdad” mixed in with Sir Lucious Left Foot. Unluckily, the performance wasn’t shown over the screens inside the festival.)
Waiting for Pavement was mostly talking about Pavement. We wondered if the same people who had been at this stage for Lightning Bolt and Major Lazer, especially younger people, would be disappointed by Pavement if they’d never seen them live before (Surprise! they can be really sloppy.) But both predictions were totally wrong. Of course kids sang along to opener “Cut Your Hair,” but they sang along with everything else too. And “Range Life,” “Stereo,” “Silence Kit” sounded locked in, though “Spit On A Stranger” was kind of a mess. Stephen Malkmus fidgeted throughout the set, once hoisting his guitar behind his head for some mock-showmanship. All of the familiar gestures were there: shrugs between bandmates when a song threatened to go awry, Malkmus mugging it up while singing a particularly sarcastic line, and moments that reminded us that, despite the occasional shambling performance, Pavement is also a guitar nerd’s band. Before they appeared, Q101′s Ryan Murphy came out to give us a speech on the importance and beauty of Pavement, a speech that bombed badly with the audience. We didn’t need it.