Pitchfork Festival 2011: Saturday Recap

Pitchfork Fest Friday inspired thoughts about the intimate and situational appeal of much of today’s crop of independent artists, and the challenges inherent to translating that allure in sunny festival climes. Fittingly, Saturday’s most successful performers were those that were malleable enough to play to the festival, not in spite of it — or just had the charisma and experience to dominate on their own terms. Which is why Gang Gang Dance ruled the afternoon — experienced, charismatic, and shape-shifting in equal measure — letting Eye Contact jams vamp on, pleasant and comfortable and just slightly on edge, reflecting the shape of the 4 o’clock hour’s blissful breeze and harsh sun. Lizzi Bougatsos traipsed off stage and along the security barrier while her group offered their sunny seance, later giving those musical interludes texture with exotic vocal stylings. She’s a star. Everything about that set felt perfectly calibrated for, and reflective of, the place and the moment. For the likes of Zola Jesus and Twin Shadow, the fest’s attention was commanded via the sheer force of their personae, and charisma. The Dismemberment Plan, despite being only recently reunited, won on the grounds of being sharp players with years under their belts. No Age’s attempt to blast punk energy into the sunstricken crowd was appreciated, though it was Woods’ early day set, full of pocket bong jams and lo-fi psychedelic rambles that felt most dialed in, with an onstage lineup that rotated in and out with Real Estate’s Alex Bleecker and Matthew Mondanile (Ducktails, on drums). And Woods’s success anticipated the headliner’s.

Sub Pop beard merchants Fleet Foxes played a day set on the same stage some years ago, with Robin Pecknold seated and a great many J Tillman jokes. Yesterday Robin stood while strumming and singing forcefully, symbolic of the pretty psychedelic folk group’s always surprising, dynamic vitality onstage. It was the headliner the day, it’s sun, it’s mellowness, and it’s weather, deserved. Check photos of the day’s lineup above, by Mr. Graeme Flegenheimer.