This is the second of WPRB’s four part review of the Pitchfork Music Festival held on July 15-17 in Chicago, Illinois.
by Griffin Winton-LaVieri (WPRB Music Director)
Having realized it was worth it to be up front and thus arrive at the gates early; Ravi and I spent two hours waiting outside the festival grounds on Saturday. However, that day, instead of going to the Green stage where Fleet Foxes would headline, we opted for the nearby Red Stage. Our fellow early arriving Pitchfork attendees were generally more interested in Fleet Foxes so we had no trouble making it to the barrier.
The first act on the Red Stage was Woods. Woods are a pretty solid freak folk band. I haven’t really gotten into their music so I didn’t really recognize their songs but nonetheless enjoyed my self. One of the members of Woods sang through a pair of headphones, which is a rather novel way of making music. The lead singer sang in a pleasing falsetto.
After Woods, on the Green stage was Cold Cave. Thanks to the positioning of the stages and a jumbotron, we could observe the band though either a video feed or as tiny guys on a relatively distant stage. They were dressed in black and performed with remarkably high energy considering it was not only incredibly hot out but it was likely earlier than they would be ever expected to leave their apartments. I really like Cold Cave’s first record so I enjoyed hearing tracks like “Youth and Lust”, “Hello Rats”, and of course, the title track. As mentioned above, the members of Cold Cave danced wildly around the stage (in a cool way, though) and I was ultimately unsure how much of the sound they were actively producing themselves.
Up next on the Red Stage was No Age. I’m a big fan of No Age and so I was particularly excited to rock out to them. Dean and Randy ripped through songs off of all three of their records and the crowd ate it up; bodies were pressed against each other, water was flung overhead to cool us down, and crowd surfers flowed regularly over the barrier. No Age covered a Black Flag and the Misfits but the highlight of the set was “Everybody’s Down” which featured Dean leaving the stage and joining the crowd. No Age are a quality band who write good songs and put on fun shows. Fun Fact: The picture that heads the Pitchfork article about the festival was taken during No Age’s set and I’m the kid wearing red in the front row.
Destroyer played next on the Red Stage. Naturally, Bejar’s epic jazzy jams were a stark contrast to No Age’s punk songs but it was now late afternoon and chilling out was in order. Destroyer make enjoyable music and they performed their tracks well so it was a good set, even Dan Bejar, who is notoriously moody, seemed like he was having fun. I had the part in “Bay of Pigs” where Bejar sings “Magnolia’s a girl/ her heart is made of wood/ as apocalypses go/ that’s pretty good/ sha-la-la/ wouldn’t you say?’ and the synths come stuck in my head all day in anticipation of hearing it live so I was quite pleased when that song concluded Destroyer’s set.
After that, Ravi and I grabbed dinner and headed to the Blue stage for Nika Roza Danilova, who is better known as Zola Jesus. With barely any trouble we were able to make it to the front, which made me happy because Zola Jesus is actually one of my favorite musicians and I had never been able to make it to one of her shows before. Although I had read about how small a stature she has, it was surprising to see her in real life and realize that, yes, she is 4’11”. Her size didn’t inhibit her performance in the least as she danced and pranced across the stage as she sang tracks from her Stridulum and Valusia EPs. The standout song was probably “Manifest Destiny” which is an incredibly powerful track in terms of Danilova’s vocal performance. Zola Jesus is an artist to watch out for and I am incredibly excited to hear her new record Conatus, which will be released in October.
Fleet Foxes were headlining that night but neither Ravi nor I are particularly familiar with their music so we left after Zola Jesus. Instead of being satisfied with a day’s worth of live music, we ventured to Chicago’s Lincoln Hall for an unofficial after-show. Shabazz Palaces opened the show. I’m not a big fan of rap or hip-hop so they weren’t exactly my thing but I definitely acknowledge that they could be a quality act. It was entertaining to watch the two members perform as many of the songs featured synchronized dance routines. The headlining act was Moonface, which is Spencer Krug’s new project. It was an interesting performance as Krug played keyboards and sang and another fellow played marimba and drum machines. It was fun and worth going to but after two days of standing on metal barriers, I was tired and my feet were incredibly sore.
Photo Credit: Ravi Prakriya