We don't often discuss our musical tastes at Destructoid because there is rarely a correlation between music preference and games -- beyond liking select videogame scores. Yet, here I am to talk about music, or a music festival, rather. I'm in Chicago covering Pitchfork Music Festival, the 7th annual indie-centric event put on by popular music blog Pitchfork.com.
I haven't attended Pitchfork since 2008, so it's nice to see that the show is still clean, well organized, and top notch in sound setup. While I may have a couple interviews with artists discussing videogame influences and interviews with game designers at the festival on the main page, I'm going to use my personal space here on the C-blogs to do something I very rarely get to do: Talk about music. Here's my take-away from day one at Pitchfork.
Olivia Tremor Control
Though Olivia Tremor Control haven't put out anything in over a decade, they left a huge impact on me in high school. I blasted their psychedelic yet occasionally catchy debut from my red Volvo and still think their best songs ("Jumping Fences", "No Growing") are of late Beatles caliber psych-pop perfection.
Unfortunately, the group didn't have a very strong showing at Pitchfork. The collective madness the six members brought to the stage strained the soundboard and my ears. Bill Doss and the rest of the band brought some great energy, but the vocals were buried, the guitar playing was messy, and the band's set oddly skipped the more progressive psychedelic songs that defined the group in the late '90s.
By the time Hecker took the stage, I was starting to become exhausted and wet. After all, it had begun raining.
These internal and external climates made the perfect storm when combined with Hecker's moody, hypnotic ambient set. It struck all the right cords with me and might be the best ambient performance I've seen live. Being an ambient artist, there isn't much stage presence or variables at play. The only thing to speak about is Hecker's craft at using noise loops to create a lulling effect on listeners. The set list subtly went from one era of Hecker to the next, making it all seamlessly blend together. Before I knew it, I was soaking wet, Hecker was done, and my mind was at peace.
After the mental high of Hecker, the punches to the gut that Japandroids and their surrounding mosh pit provided made for the perfect body high. The Vancouver duo opened with "Adrenline Nightshift" and kept the set list fast and furious, eventually ending with "Sovereignty" 45 minutes later.
I was fortunate enough to be in the front-middle of the Blue stage's cramped quarters. It didn't take long for the audience to become a massive mosh pit with young kids throwing each other's bodies at each other and lifting one another up. It's rare that I get to be in a mosh pit at a show I actually like, so -- as someone that enjoys this sort of thing -- it was an absolute blast. Totally fucked up my Penguin shoes and jeans, but oh well! Lifting my fist up with a 1,000 people to shout a "Ooooooooh!" before a drum fill will be the moment to beat at this festival.
Dave Longstreth's off-kilter guitar melodies and strained vocals always teeter on the edge of disaster on record, so I assumed he'd be a mess live. I was pleasantly surprised then to find that Dirty Projectors were the most workman-like band of the day. Every song sounded identical to the albums and were played with the same heart and soul that made me fall in love with the band.
Though I haven't heard the band's latest release, the audience had the strongest reaction to songs off Bitte Orca. Watching Longstreth's hands work during "Cannibal Resource" and "No Intention" was a real treat. The cool harmonics and warm vocal melodies of the band made this a perfect set to watch as the sun went down.
At first, I planned to see Purity Ring at the other side of the festival but I'm glad I stayed for Feist. While Purity Ring are embarking on their first tour, Feist is a pro that knows how to put on a killer festival show and she didn't disappoint one bit.
The songs I didn't care for on Metals found a new life on the stage. The heavy percussion treatment of "The Bad in Each Other" and "How Come You Never Go There" made these innocuous songs sound vicious and heavy. For a second, it wasn't hard to imagine Feist recreating herself in the mold of early PJ Harvey. But, then she jumped into some classics from The Reminder, each of which has undergone major changes for the live show.
"So Sorry" became a hymn with backup vocals by the audience, "My Moon My Man" became a heavy anthem to stomp your feet to, "I Feel It All" became an sped-up, electrified pop-punk anthem, and "The Park" became a tender solo. All through the set, Feist had a great stage presence and personality. When she forgot lyrics, she'd joke about it and continue without hesitating. She clearly was enjoying the stage and proved to be more than worthy of closing out the first day of the festival.