News for the ‘Pitchfork Music Festival’ Category

Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 – Day 3 Review by Eric Berman

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 – Day 3 Review by Eric Berman

The final day at Pitchfork Music Festival provided the usual array of adventurous music including indie rock, experimental sounds, electronic dance music and much more hip-hop than has been featured in previous years.

Highlights included the return of Grimes (aka Clair Boucher) whose brand of electronic dance music has grown in stature over the last couple of years. Even though she hasn’t released a stitch of new music since her last Pitchfork appearance in 2012, she has managed to attract a much bigger crowd on a bigger stage in the penultimate slot of the festival. Her set consisted of tracks from her 2012 album Visions including her big hits “Oblivion” and “Genesis.” We also got a glimpse of one new track that she said was not quite finished yet, but sounded just fine and was well received by the crowd.

One of the most unusual sets of the day belonged to Canadian electronic duo Majical Cloudz featuring Devon Welsh who writes and sings the songs accompanied by the sonic soundscapes of Matthew Otto. We caught the last twenty minutes or so of their set but apparently they had a malfunctioning keyboard which forced Welsh to perform many of his songs a capella accompanied only by the hand-claps of the audience. This happy accident presented Welsh in the best way possible as a singer with a terrific voice who could carry the show on his own. At the end of the set, Otto smashed his keyboard for the crowd after both musicians apologized for the malfunction. No worries, they practically stole the show for the many members of the audience who stayed around for the end of the set. (As I write this review I’m listening to their 2013 album Impersonator and it’s definitely worth further investigation. Check out the song “Savage” posted below.)

Today also saw the return of Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt whose bravura on stage made up for some rather sophomoric lyrics. Nevertheless, he’s got charisma to burn and a now-considered-classic hip-hop album under his belt called Doris. He had the crowd chanting “Hot soup in my mutha-f@#ckin’ bowl,” and “I’m gonna f@#k the freckles off your face.” Indeed, I liked him more than his music because at he’s a skilled performer with a wicked sense of humor who knows how to give his audience exactly what it wants.

Other highlights today included the girl-group garage rock of Dum Dum Girls, the newly reunited ‘90s rock band Slowdive and the psychedelic rock of New Jersey’s own Real Estate who also made a return to Pitchfork this year.

We also caught sets by Top Dawg rapper Isaiah Rashad and Deafheaven whose brand of noise rock wore thin shortly after they took the stage. We left just as headliner Kendrick Lamar took the stage satiated and also ready to see Jack White in Milwaukee tomorrow night.

Edited: July 20th, 2014

Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 – Day 2 Review by Eric Berman

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 – Day 2 Review by Eric Berman

The second day of Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival was all about the ladies with stunning performances by St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) whose theatrical set leaned heavily on her latest self-titled album that came out late last year and is better than any other record that I’ve heard this year. Vincent played guitar throughout while she and her band synchronized their movements to vibrant versions of “Digital Witness,” “Prince Johnny,” ”Birth In Reverse, “Bring Me Your Love” and “Rattlesnake” which opened her set.

tUnEyArDs also killed with their set today. The group, who returned to Pitchfork for a second time, is the brainchild of Merrill Garbus who plays ukulele and creates vocal and drum loops on the fly, and synthesizer/bassist Nate Brenner. This year’s version of the group jettisoned the two saxophone players they’ve toured with in the past in favor of two additional vocalists and a drummer who also sang. While the group’s latest album, Nikki Nack takes some getting used to, the songs heard tonight came off much stronger than in their studio incarnations, and the additional live vocals added another dimension to Garbus’ daisy-flavored Afro-pop.

Other highlights of the day included Ohio based indie punk rock trio Cloud Nothings who have also played the festival before, the ‘80s influenced British band Wild Beasts whose danceable sound was often reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen, and the psychedelic garage rock of Circulatory System featuring Will Cullen Hart of Olivia Tremor Control.

I also heard plenty of hip-hop today including sets by Kanye West’s homeboy Pusha T who made up for starting twenty minutes late with a short likable show featuring a couple of tracks from the GOOD Music compilation, and Danny Brown who for was afforded an ear-splitting 75 minute slot that began to wear out its welcome much before it actually ended. (That said, I watched the show from a distance while those who were right up close were completely enthralled.)

The night was capped off by the reunion of Neutral Milk Hotel who released two well-received albums over twenty years ago and then went on an extended hiatus. During their absence, their music began to grow in stature as the group’s influence could be heard in the recordings of a new generation of artists including groups like Bright Eyes, Bon Iver and Arcade Fire. It was great to see the adulation the band received all this adulation at this late date, although I find the somewhat whiny voice of Jeff Mangum an acquired taste…one which I never acquired the first time around.

Until tomorrow…

Edited: July 19th, 2014

Pitchfork Music Festival – Day 1 by Eric Berman

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Pitchfork Music Festival – Day 1 by Eric Berman

It was an exceptional first day at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.

Every year I go to this festival and come away with all kinds of new bands I would never otherwise have heard that become new favorites. Day one was no different with a great chill soul singer named SZA (Solana Rowe) who is part of Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment crew. Her debut album entitled Z” came out this past April and I’m listening to it on Spotify as I type this.

Also amazing was Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks an Animal Collective offshoot project that was as wiggy and psychedelic as the mothership but with added guitar crunch.

Other highlights of the day included Beck who opened with “Devil’s Haircut” and performed no less than three tracks from the “Midnight Vultures” album which, judging by crowd reaction has surely grown in stature over the years. Giorgio Morodor’s DJ set touched on almost all phases of his career as images of his protégé’s including Donna Summer drifted on and off the screen.

There was also the welcome return of Neneh Cherry (daughter of Jazz trumpeter Don Cherry) who performed much of her new album and, of course also performed her 1989 hit “Buffalo Stance.” Another early highlight of the day was Factory Floor, an industrial dance band from London, England.

Edited: July 19th, 2014