Sweatfork: Day One
By Tankboy on Jul 31, 2006 8:55PM
Yes, it was hot. Very hot. Buster Poindexter hot hot hot. So hot that Chicagoist was desperately tempted to start buying concert T-shirts just so we could change out of our sweat-soaked duds. And all those hipsters walking around in 1970s gym uniforms? Yes, we were laughing at you .. but we also sort of wished we were as dressed-down as you. In fact the day was filled with tragic fashion choices, but what would an indie rock music festival be without legions of awkward teenagers and the fashion-addled adults they would grow into?
Aside from the heat, the first thing that struck us about the Pitchfork Music Festival was the number of people. It was far more crowded this year than last (and yes, we consider the first Intonation Festival to, in fact, be the first Pitchfork Festival, so there). However the same easy-goig vibe that ruled last year’s crowd still seemed to be in effect. Lines were longest for water and shortest for beer. Nothing was too expensive and everyone seemed to be in a pretty good mood. Heck, the occasional sighting of dudes in Man Uniforms™ (baseball cap, no shirt, khaki shorts, fratboy swagger and the omnipresent beer) proved the universal appeal – and calming effect – of the ‘Fork’s Fests.
We had a few quibbles though. For instance the Biz 3 tent was way too small. We realize that sparsely attended showcases in that location last year probably caused the tent to remain the same size, but the talent in the tent this year was of a much higher caliber. The fact that no one passed out during Flosstradamus or Spank Rock is a minor miracle. Also, the sound seemed to be an issue this year. Volumes would waver, instruments would cut in and out and, if you were more than a couple hundred feet from the stage, in petered out pretty quickly for the most part. Unless you were Art Brut or The Futureheads … n which case sound was only an issue if you were too much of a wuss to take on a full-frontal assault of the rock and/or roll.
In our opinion, on the main stages, The Futureheads were clearly the day’s winners. Art Brut put up a good fight but Eddie Argos’s jovial everybloke rock didn’t stand a chance against the four-pronged harmonies and jackhammer assault of The Futureheads. Though we did award Argos extra points for name-checking Chicago’s own Team Band during “Good Weekend.” Nice one bruvah.
Man Man also put on an inspired set that makes us salivate in expectation of their return to Chicago in September. We really think they are better suited to cozier environs since their manic assault lost much of its appeal after about fifteen minutes. Their songs’ intensity is just too focused and ended up dissipating amongst the crowd. Plus, they had to make do after a disastrous introduction delivered by The Hideout’s Tim Tuten.
Now, we admire the fact that Tuten is durn supportive of music. What we couldn’t fathom is why he was allowed to perform his long winded intros that often ended up deflating the crowd through exasperation instead of winding them up with anticipation. So next year, can we just have Thax do the intros? People may dislike him as well, but at least he only takes up about ten seconds of stage time as opposed to Tuten’s average of three to five minutes. (By the way, Tim, slick move placing all those Hideout buttons next to the VIP bar backstage. We actually have to give you props for that piece of self-promotion.)
Moving along, though.
Ted Leo turned in a solid set of the rarest sort of angry propulsive rock; the kind that has a social conscience without becoming preachy or laden with treacle. Leo also treated the crowd to some new music and proved that he may be capable of one-upping the high standards he set fro himself upon the release of his last album. unfortunately his frentic set only underscored the lack of any real urgency in The Walkmen's own songs. Except for "The Rat." that one was a classic.
The Silver Jews provided a lovely exit theme. While we had been looking forward to their performance with great curiosity we realized about five songs in that Berman and company were incapable of rising to the occasion in the same way that, say, the Decemberists did last year. Their was nothing wrong with their set, per se, there just wasn’t anything particularly right about it either. So we decided, along with a swarming mass of other freshly sunburned hipsters, to make out way out of the park and down Ashland in search of a cab or a bus or a train, and some much needed sleep in anticipation of Day Two.
Sweatfork Day Two is here.