Rolling Stone Tells You What To Listen To While Stoned

People love music. They also love to get high. Put the two together and you’re talking about pretty happy humans, provided you pick the right music. What music is that, you ask? Well, Rolling Stone has some, er…ideas. The leadoff choice of Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky with the opening phrase “irony alert” makes us wonder if this wasn’t originally some Father’s Day tribute to dad-rock.

Then there’s Fleet Foxes’ self-titled album, which, wow did I not remember that that existed (too much weed, maybe?). It’s even odder slotted amid a lot of solid reggae, jazz, and stoner hip-hop. For the requisite Flaming Lips entry, they go Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, even though The Soft Bulletin is clearly their masterstroke in the genre of dozing-off-on-a-beanbag music. I won’t even touch the eternally overrated My Morning Jacket.
 
Truly, it’s not all that bad a list, at least until you get to the end. Beck in the top ten, just because the album is named after a strain of marijuana? Goddamn Merriweather Post Pavilion—are we still pretending to like this borefest? What stoned person wants to be freaked out for the rest of the evening by Kid A? When you get right down to it, it feels like the only music you don’t want to listen to when under the influence is the kind that music writers picked for you.

BlackBook Tracks #31: It’s Too Cold to Exist

Word on the street is that we’re in the dead of winter right now. (Another compelling reason to be at Sundance right now is that it’s actually warmer in Park City than it is in New York.) Summer music may be more fun, but this is the time to curl up with a mug of cider and songs that come from cold places.

Torres – “When Winter’s Over”

My current favorite pastime is listening to Nashville singer-songwriter Torres and emoting deeply. Her music sounds perfect when everything is numb except for your feelings, and “When Winter’s Over” hits the spot. Unfortunately, winter is not actually over yet.

Beach House – “I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun”

The temperatures keep dropping, but at least Victoria LeGrand’s voice will keep you warm. Let’s pretend that is physically possible.

Niki & The Dove – “Winterheart”

My heart is frozen. So is my soul.

JEFF the Brotherhood – “Hypnotic Winter”

Nashville rockers JEFF the Brotherhood manage to sound pretty optimistic about the season, which we could probably all do with.

The Dodos – “Winter”

If you’re already starting to get angry about Valentine’s Day coming up, this is for you. The bittersweet jangle works wonders.

Belle & Sebastian – “Winter Wooskie”

“Who’s that girl? She must be nearly freezing” is a semi-iconic Belle & Sebastian line that’s apt for this week. In classic fashion, “Winter Wooskie” paints a wistful portrait with just the right amount of detail.

Nico – “Winter Song”

John Cale recently paid tribute to Nico with a host of other artists, including Sharon Van Etten and Alison Mosshart. Since you’re not going outside anyways, now seems like the perfect time to revisit Chelsea Girl.

Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal”

Because with those harmonies, it’s easier to pretend that this is just “crisp” and “refreshing.”

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Listen to a New Song From Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold

After a successful 2011 which saw the release of their successful sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, 2012 has gotten off to an odd start for Fleet Foxes, but luckily, one that’s yielded some new music. The Foxes’ drummer, J. Tillman, left at the beginning of the year to pursue a solo career under the name Father John Misty and released a haunting, cinematic single about the graveyard-turned-venue Hollywood Forever Cemetery and a corresponding trippy video starring Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza. Then they were an answer on Jeopardy!, which made us wonder how many Jeopardy! contestants were up on their emotionally-present acoustic indie folk tunage. Then, this week, they were nominated for a BRIT Award for Best International Act but lost to Foo Fighters.

Now, hirsute Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold has released a new solo demo track, "Olivia, In A Separate Bed." According to 107.7 The End, the sparse acoustic track was likely the result of Pecknold’s breakup with a long-time significant other, based on a string of tweets that indicated such (which have since been deleted, save for this one, which is kind of super heartbreaking). 

Listen via SoundCloud:

Olivia, In A Separate Bed by Robin Pecknold

Aubrey Plaza Stars in Ex-Fleet Foxes Music Video, ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’

Aubrey Plaza has already firmly established herself as Hollywood’s most visible alternative darling, but here’s a further way to stay on top: by appearing in this music video for ex-Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman’s song, "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings." She plays a goth brat intent on throwing a fit at a wacky funeral, eating flowers, throwing chairs, and stumbling around in a drunken, bloody mess. You can watch the video at EW.com, or listen to the mp3 after the click.

 

Tillman’s official name is Father John Misty, and he’ll be releasing his debut album Fear Fun on May 1. The song itself a nice, gloomy-sounding folk dirge, a bit fuzzier than the work he did with the Foxes. Plaza remains the defiant alt-queen, of course.

Afternoon Links: Elton John and Husband Take On Madonna, Rihanna Kicks Back In Hawaii

● Elton John didn’t think Madonna had "a f-ing chance" of beating him in the best original song category at last night’s Golden Globes, but then she did, and John’s husband David Furnish joined the fight via Facebook. "Madonna winning Best Original Song truly shows how these awards have nothing to do with merit," he wrote in a vengeful post, adding also that "Her acceptance speech was embarrassing in its narcissism" and her recent criticisms of Lady Gaga "desperate." It’s on! [NYDN]

● Fleet Foxes-styled cover band, Fleet Foxes Sing, had bloggers all in in a tizzy this morning with their impeccabe Fleet Foxes cover of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own." [PopDust]

● Russell Brand says he’s handling his divorce "quite well" thanks to one of his favorite American authors. "The brilliant American author Kurt Vonnegut, he’ll tell you that if you imagine reality as experienced simultaneously, events become redundant," he told the inquiring press, adding that "right now," he’s "happy." [People]

● Kush rolled, glass full, and leggings on, Rihanna seems to be enjoying a real relaxed Hawaiian holiday. [YBF]

Downton Abbey‘s Countess of Grantham and her daughter Lady Mary are recording an album together, set for release later this year. [Express]

● The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn has got a new Friday Night Lights’ saluting solo album called Clear Eyes Full Hearts, and it’s streaming for free on NPR. [NPR]

Fake Fleet Foxes Cover the New Classics

Have you always wanted to hear watered-down acoustic versions of pop hits like Whitney Houston’s "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and Robyn’s "Dancing on My Own"? Do you think every song should sound like it was recorded by a poor man’s CSN&Y? Well, now you can! A dude with a pretty voice has formed a Fleet Foxes cover bandsort ofwith himself. He’s posing as Fleet Foxes on a blog called Fleet Foxes Sing and, man, people really are into this sort of thing.

This isn’t a diatribe against Fleet Foxes, whose Helplessness Blues was one of the best albums of 2011. They’re a great band that mixes terrific songwriting with interesting instrumentation. They also sound like a five-part Simon and Garfunkel, and that ain’t so bad either, because it’s kinda pretty. But while it’s easy to look past the merits of the band and suggest that they’re a bunch of harmonizing hippies whose music is a throwback of the tired sounds of the folk-rock scene of the ’60s and ’70s, they’ve got some great tunes and abilities that are worth listening to in 2012. 

Having said that, the idea of a guy overdubbing his voice to pose as a successful indie-rock band to record covers of popular songs on the internet is… weird, no? First of all, nowhere on the blog does he admit that they are not, in fact, Fleet Foxes. He even has a link to a Facebook page, which any internet novice would assume gives him some credibility. The blog does, however, link to an interview from back in September, in which the anonymous singer admits that he is not actually a member of the Fleet Foxes.

I’m an aspiring musician, so I’m always trying to be creative and practice my craft as an artist. One day I had “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” stuck in my head. I had some ideas as to ways I could deconstruct the song and make it my own, so I recorded a short demo of the chorus and the “don’t you wanna dance” part as an experiment. The demo had 12 vocal overdubs, reverb and acoustic guitar. A couple days later I played it for some friends while drunk and one says “What is this? The Fleet Foxes?” so I ran with it. Seemed like a great meme that’d be popular on tumblr.

Is there nothing more annoying that a guy with an acoustic guitar recording a sad-sack version of a dance hit, therefore killing all of the joy so prominent in a song like Rihanna’s "We Found Love" or Mariah Carey’s "Dreamlover"? Apparently so. This is next-level boring. The only interesting thing, I suppose, is that he created melodies with his own voice, but the idea of trying to put some other band’s spin on a song runs the concept of covering songs into the ground. 

Deciphering the Pitchfork Readers Poll

Sure, it may be a brand-new year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take some time to reflect back on what was awesome and what was terrible from last year. People love giving their opinions and others love to hate said opinions! It’s pretty much the only thing to read on the internet in the last two weeks of the year, so it’s unsurprising that it’ll carry over to the first business day of the new year. Take Pitchfork’s year-end lists, for example: the staff lists were full of considerate and well-written criticism, which is somewhat dissimilar to the point-of-view of most of the site’s detractors, who still associate Pitchfork with pretentious hipster snark. The 2011 Pitchfork Readers Poll, on the other hand, does without the commentary, and instead compiles lists of the so-called best albums of the year, as well as the most underrated and overrated albums. 

The list of Pitchfork’s readers’ favorite albums of the year is not so surprising. Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, M83, James Blake, and Girls all top the list, meaning it was yet again another stellar year for sensitive dudes and their emotions. It’s nice to see that other Pitchfork favorites like St. Vincent, PJ Harvey, tUnE-yArDs, Feist, and Lykke Li also made it into the boys’ club of whatever we’re calling the broader genre of "indie rock" these days. 

What’s more entertaining, however, are the next two lists of the most under- and overrated albums. Panda Bear’s Tomboy and Radiohead’s King of Limbs is made it not only in the top 50 but also the overrated and the underrated lists. The Strokes’ Angels is the sole album that only shows up on the underrated list; the others, which range from Childish Gambino to Yuck to Wilco (Wilco! So underrated!), show up on the top fifty list. I guess means that The Strokes are actually the only underrated band of 2011. What a long way they’ve come from the heady days of 2001 when I couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing "Last Nite."

Of course, the list of the most overrated albums is hilarious, because Bon Iver’s self-titled release takes the number one spot just as it does on the top fifty list. The collection of overrated albums also includes popular titles like Adele’s 21, Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto, Foster the People’s Torches, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV,  and Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials, none of which showed up in the readers’ favorites. 

So what have we learned here? Some people who read Pitchfork really like Bon Iver! And also some people who read Pitchfork do not like Bon Iver. They also don’t care for bands and musicians with chart-topping albums (unless, in the case of some of them, they are fans of Bon Iver). But I think the most important part is that we can all agree that The Strokes are so underrated; it’s really unfair that no one ever talks about that band! A fascinating study, for sure!

[via Annicka]

The Best Dang Concert Diary in Texas: Takeaways from Austin City Limits

After three days of battling excruciating heat, rain storms, and the escalating crowd size at Austin’s Zilker Park, I was actually very sad to see Austin City Limits end. Similar to years past, I’ll leave the great state of Texas with a deepened appreciation for the “weirdness” of Austin, Tex Mex cuisine, and the wealth of opportunities for a good ol’ fashioned adventure this festival has to offer. For more ACL accounts and a gallery of the weekend’s festivities, read on.

1) Less is not more. Everything is bigger in Texas, and this includes Queso serving sizes, golf umbrellas, the ambition behind Kanye’s stage construction, the ACL bike lot, and the hype surrounding headlining music legend Stevie Wonder. Over the past few years, I’ve learned to come to ACL overly prepared, as the weather is almost always unpredictable this time of year and, hell, anything can happen. While here, I always load up on runny Tex Mex queso dip, nachos, and hard tacos, so this year, we hit up Guero’s and Maudie’s in Austin and sampled the nachos from The Salt Lick and Tim Love’s Love Shack inside the festival grounds. (The Salt Lick won our blind taste test.)

For me, the most ambitious performance was Kanye West’s and his troupe of ballerinas on Friday night. For his opener, “Higher,” Kanye descended into the crowd from a hydraulic lift and casually swaggered onto the stage. The following hour and 45 minutes was remarkable in its aesthetic simplicity and near-perfect execution. Unfortunately, the ever-so-anticipated Stevie Wonder’s Saturday performance was marred by some technical sound issues (My Morning Jacket could be heard pretty distinctly even from Wonder’s corner of the park). Dedicated fans set up shop around the Bud Light stage starting that morning in anticipation of this headlining performance, but the impression shared by the exiting crowds was generally nonplussed…To go out with a bang, the weekend ended with recent Grammy winners Arcade Fire; the closing honors served as a homecoming of sorts for band members Win and Will Butler (who grew up in Houston suburb, the Woodlands). They played an aggressive show for the festival’s most-coveted time slot and bid adieu to Austin with Regine Chassagne twirling around in multicolored ribbons and the sad announcement that they wouldn’t be back for a few more years.

2) Be open to try new things. I’ve heard the name Skrillex before, but realistically knew very little about the LA-based electro DJ and producer. Now I do. His performance at the Google + stage on Saturday was surely one of the most crowded, rowdiest and high-energy shows of the weekend. Crowd surfing fans started coming over the front rail in waves as soon as Skrillex took the stage, and the thousands surrounding continued jumping in unison through his hour of glory. At one point, he lifted a fist-pumping, little, blonde boy from backstage onto his soundboard. That kid is going to be so much cooler than anyone I know…I’m now also a converted Tito’s Vodka fan, thanks to the Vodka slushie concoction booth in the media area (amazing idea).

3) Timing is everything. I came with two friends from New York, a camera and a rough itinerary for our 72 hours in Austin. We ended up with an arm full of wristbands, some sweet cowboy boots and backstage access to Cut Copy’s Saturday afternoon performance and Fleet Foxes Sunday show. On Saturday, while standing on fold out chairs in an attempt to catch a glimpse of TV on the Radio from the Google + lounge, a concerned concert-goer approached us and explained that he’d lost his girlfriend, Bridget, and asked if we would hold up a barcode he’d drawn on a piece of cardboard with Bridget’s name. Trying to be polite (we’re in Texas, after all), we obliged, and within seconds Bridget and her man were reunited. Incredible…Like many other surprised festival-goers, we had a few Terrence Malick/Christian Bale sightings (Fleet Foxes, TV On the Radio, Bright Eyes), and have been informed via the Twitter-sphere that they were indeed shooting a film throughout the weekend’s festivities…In addition to hosting some of the festival’s biggest names and attractions, the Bud Light stage also acted as a backdrop for the weekend’s most cringe-worthy-but-cute public engagement. An adorable Aussie fellow took the stage on Sunday afternoon and asked the crowd if he could use it as a forum to ask a “very special question”. The lucky lady joined him, and (phew) she said yes. They also announced that they’re moving to Austin just because they like it that much.

image Austin native Terrence Malick directing Christian Bale backstage at Fleet Foxes

An Exhaustive Review of the 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival

The hipster gradation begins on the subway. You know you’re getting closer to the Pitchfork Music Festival as the crowd on the El, Chicago’s famed elevated subway system, begins to shade from downtown office workers and tourists coming in from O’Hare to twentysomethings in cut-offs, neon, and free-range beards. Unlike other music festivals in more remote locations – Coachella, Bonnaroo – the caravans to Pitchfork aren’t composed of Subaru Outbacks, but rather the Green Line, the Ashland bus, and bikes. Indeed, one of the best things about Pitchfork is the extent to which it identifies with the city of Chicago, home to the e-zine’s headquarters (there’s also an office in Brooklyn, of course).

"It feels good to have established Pitchfork here in Chicago. It really is, I guess, an institution at this point," says Ryan Schreiber, founder and CEO of Pitchfork Media (author’s note: no relation). Chicago pride is on display throughout the weekend–vintage Bulls jerseys abound, and more remarkably still, you can catch glimpses of naked arms displaying Chicago-flag tattoos.

The three-day fest, held in Chicago’s Union Park, provides that rare combination of big-name talent (Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes and TV on the Radio were this year’s headliners) with an intimate, community vibe. Compared to larger behemoths, Pitchfork only sells 18,000 tickets per day; to put that in perspective, the attendance at Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza each hover between 70-80,000 fans. Rather than having every sensory organ pummeled – competing guitar chords, the musky scent of sweat not your own pervading your nostrils – Pitchfork allows its attendees a high-quality experience, where you can actually take in and be aware of your surroundings rather than be overwhelmed by them. Incidentally, it also makes finding your friends and bumping into people you know easier.

"We’ve done it in this park for seven years, and there are many other opportunities to move it to a bigger park or do something different with it, but I just like this. I feel like this is the perfect size. Get much larger and you have to walk for miles to get to where you’re going," says Schreiber.

Because it’s sponsored by the influential online music magazine rather than a big marketing firm, there can be, at times, a distinct ‘industry vibe’ (the ratio of industry-to-non industry folks is higher than at bigger fests, even if overall numbers are low). You can’t go more than two feet without seeing someone prance by in a "VIP" pass, "Artist" pass (which managers, agents, and publicists may wear in addition to the bands), or "Press" pass. All of this is a long way of saying that this festival has cred, both geeky and cool.

In addition to the previously-mentioned headliners, buzz-worthy acts like Das Racist, James Blake, Odd Future, Toro y Moi, Deerhunter, Ariel Pink, and Cut Copy were joined by veterans such as Guided By Voices, Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth), Off!, and DJ Shadow. The process of choosing the lineup is "about booking the artists we really love," according to Schreiber. "We [the Pitchfork staff] come up with sort of a dream list, collectively." image Twin Shadow image Das Racist

Battles was one of the first acts to kick off Friday, playing a high-energy set that included LED screens of Gary Numan and Matias Aguayo singing in the background. Perhaps it was the heat, but the crowd, though receptive to the show, seemed to be conserving its energy, failing to match the moxie onstage. Towards the end of the show, guitarist Dave Konopka shouted "Afterward, everyone’s invited to my house, 857 Marshfield. We’ll have a party there." (A quick and stalker-y perusal of Chicago’s White Pages was unable to verify if the Battles guitarist had actually just invited thousands of people to his house.)

Despite the fact that they didn’t humor the audience by playing "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," Das Racist provided some on-stage rowdiness, enhanced by their hype man, Dap, deliriously jumping and running around onstage. The crowd erupted and girls were hoisted onto dudes’ shoulders when the three rappers came onstage and played "Who’s That? Brooown!" The energy (both that of the group and of the crowd) dipped a little towards the middle of the set (at one point, a rapper named Danny Brown from Fool’s Gold hopped onstage, and although his performance promised a talented new MC, the crowd was just hankering for more Das Racist). Finally, towards the end of the show, hands were back in the air when Das Racist launched into "You Oughta Know" before ending the set with "Rainbow in the Dark."

James. Blake. James Blake is perhaps the most buzzed-about artist to play Pitchfork this year and, perhaps, one of the must buzzed about new artists anywhere. Let’s not mince words: Blake did not disappoint. Whereas, after listening to the slow and sparse songs on his debut self-titled album, it can sometimes be tricky to see how his music is affiliated with dubstep, his pitchfork performance was a new (and exciting) experience entirely. The powerful, heavy bassline that’s so characteristic of dubstep came across more clearly in his set than I’d ever heard it before, yet the enveloping beats still left space to enjoy Blake’s haunting vocals. Blake’s stage presence (much like his demeanor in person) was charming and mild-mannered, most clearly evidenced by the fact that he chose to sit off to the side of the stage rather than front-and-center. When he played "CMYK," the crowd turned wild, getting down to the lighter and dance-ier track. Before a rapt audience at dusk, he closed the set with a great rendition of one of his album’s signatures, "The Wilhelm Scream."

After Animal Collective’s Friday night closing set, the crowds dispersed, many en route to any number of "Official" and "Unofficial" after shows and parties. One of the most cleverly marketed parties proved to be a fête hosted by Patron XO Cafe, Spin Magazine, and Superfly marketing group. Invites had been emailed to guests a few days before, revealing only the date and time of the party and vague instructions about finding a food truck parked near the festival grounds, where more information and directions would be dispensed. By 10pm, a small crowd was gathered outside Mama Green’s Gourmet Goodie Truck eager to continue the party-meets-scavenger hunt. We were given cups of iced coffee with the secret address of the event written on the coffee sleeve, which turned out to be the site of Chicago’s Prairie Studios. We party-goers ended up being a funny mix of media folk a little grungy from hanging outside at the festival all day and some of Chicago’s most beautiful people decked out in cocktail dresses and heels. Once inside, you could pose for professional photographs with models dressed in 20s-inspired burlesque costumes, sip any number of Patron-inspired cocktails, and chomp down on classic Chicago-style hors d’oeuvres such as "mini deep dish pizzas" or mini Italian sausages. Walking around the beautiful inside-outside space, sipping Patron margaritas, we could also listen to a live band and watch a magic show. Even if some of it was a little gimmicky – and more than a few people wished the live band could have been replaced by a DJ (of which there are many in Chicago, like the Hood Internet and Flosstradamus) – the party was a success. image Fleet Foxes

Saturday’s uncomfortably hot temps didn’t stop people from getting down during Gang Gang Dance‘s set, which provided a raucous blend of their unique multi-instrumental, percussion-heavy dance music laced with electro. After feverishly jumping and jolting onstage during instrumental breaks, lead singer Lizzie Bougatsos took the mic and told the audience, "If you can’t act crazy onstage, there’s no reason to live. If you see me humping a monitor, you just know."

As it grew later and became just a touch cooler, crowds coalesced before the Green Stage to see Fleet Foxes, who played one of the best sets of the weekend. Given the usual amount of delays in between set changes, people were visibly impressed when the band hopped on stage to begin their show a mere seconds after DJ Shadow ended his at an adjacent stage. Playing mostly songs from their first album led a guy next to me to remark, "They’re just putting on a big show. That’s what they’re doing." Yes, sir. The sound quality was stellar, such that you could actually distinguish between the various instruments onstage. The hushed crowd broke out into cheers when the first chords of "White Winter Hymnal" reverberated out across the crowd–a song that can evoke feelings of wintry tranquility and Christmas tidings even during the peak of summer. In a smart move, they brought the crowd out of their trance with a rocking rendition of "Ragged Wood" before ending on a song from their new album, the titular "Helplessness Blues."

As Day 2 drew to a close, not everyone had the stamina to keep up with the afterparties, but for those of us who did, many chose to head over to Beauty Bar, which hosted one of the few "Official Pitchfork After Parties," featuring DJ sets by Twin Shadow, members of Deerhunter, and Tim Koh of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. The Pitchfork crew (including Ryan Schreiber) were in attendance, as well as members of the Windish Agency (disclosure: I do some on-and-off unpaid work for Windish), which represents both Twin Shadow and Deerhunter and DJ/local celeb Million $ Mano.

Sunday was the most anticipated day at the fest if for only one reason: Odd Future. Already one of the most hyped new acts, Odd Future’s show at Pitchfork received a particularly large amount of publicity due to the planned anti-violence protest during their set. For better or for worse, it appeared that by the end of the afternoon it was Odd Future: 1, Protesters: 0. Representatives from anti-violence groups were in attendance and handing out fans as first reported, but the ill-conceived gesture didn’t seem to have much impact. Sunday was an inferno and concert attendees were grateful to get a fan–any fan–but hardly anyone gave nary a glance to see what was emblazoned on its side (besides, there had been several different sponsors handing out fans throughout the weekend so any novelty was lost). If anything, the preceding controversy and the insane amount of PR that ensued only upped the ante for Odd Future, increasing what would already have been a huge crowd. image Odd Future

Though it was the first time I’d ever seen the collective, Odd Future’s set was basically exactly as I expected: brash, punky, and a pretty damn good time. As Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah reported in her feature on the group in this month’s BlackBook, the guys understand the role they (and the media) have created for themselves, and they work hard to live up to it. They seem to relish playing the part of the villainous rap group, donning freakish masks during set, strutting across the stage, and chest thumping with the bravado that only a twenty-year-old can possess. Occasionally, the heavy bass drowned out some of their lyrics, but when you could hear Tyler, the Creator or Hodgy Beats, their oft-reported crudeness and offensiveness was in full force ("You fucking bitch, you smell like dick").

One majorly weird thing I witnessed were hipster parents who’d brought their toddlers to Odd Future’s set, the dad bopping around to Tyler’s jams with the tot on his shoulders (there were actually a disconcerting amount of hipster parents who brought their kids–sometimes babies!–to the fest). Neither the baby sightings nor the fact that Tyler had been hobbled by a broken foot and monster cast (he spent much of the set seated but managed to get up and chant "Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School" at the end) killed the vibe. As the show ended, Left Brain did a half stage dive/ half body slam, throwing himself projectile-style into the crowd. It was a fitting description of the group itself and their Pitchfork show: aggressive and in your face but openly received by the mainstream.

After that intensity, it was nice to take a breather before heading over to absorb Toro y Moi’s blissed-out, disco-y electronica. Even though the crowd was subdued–maybe still recovering from the heat or Odd Future’s set, or both–their stillness could not be mistaken for disinterest: all eyes were fixed on Toro y Moi, lapping up his every beat.

Finally, as the sun set over the Chicago skyline, TV on the Radio came on and gave everyone a festival-wide second wind. With the ubiquity of electronica or experimental pop at the fest, the explosion of percussion heralding their rock show was a welcome sound. Throughout the set, intensity built up with a steady trajectory but, almost teasingly, would hold out, captured as if like steam pressure in some kind of boiler. That is, until they broke out full-force into "Dancing Choose" ("He’s a newspaper man") and "Wolf Like Me," their crescendos giving the crowd the relief they wanted. The audience ebbed and flowed in a massive wave of dancing and even the industry folk gathered on the VIP risers had their guards down and were seen grooving (one VIP was even maniacally jumping around). Finally, towards the end of the show, hip-hop group Shabazz Palaces joined TV on the Radio onstage, playing tambourine shakers as backup to "A Method."

And with that, another impressive performance ended along with another impressive effort by Pitchfork’s organizers. The festival proved that once again it lived up to much more than the hype of being an "indie fest" or "hipster fest," displaying a diverse line-up and three days of non-stop musical experiences. Combining the cool, industry-ness of SXSW with the grassy, park setting of a large-scale music festival and the intimacy and community vibe of your local fest, Pitchfork has managed to create a unique festival experience. It is sure to continue being a destination for those seeking to hear some of the best acts they know and to be exposed to new ones they don’t.

image James Blake

All Photography by Steve Scap