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Pre-Fork: The Bands.

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 13, 2007 5:10PM

Pitchfork_music_festival_logo.jpgEverybody and their brother are listing out their day-to-day, act-by-act rundowns of this weekend's Pitchfork Music Festival. The thing all these folks seem to be missing, as they get dragged into the "do-as-everyone-else-does" pool, is that the festival has been sold-out for weeks so it's safe to assume that the folks that are going know what they're in for. We realize you've got to fill posts / columns / traffic-quotas, but c'mon, enough with the lists.

So we're taking the road (slightly) less traveled; we figure that festivals are ultimately all about personal choices, and the reason you go to them in the first place is because a number of acts have already caught your fancy. So, instead of going "see this band versus this band" or "1:00 so-and-so is playing (followed by a pithy three-sentence summation of their entire musical career," we're going to be selfish and merely tout the acts we're looking forward to seeing. (Funnel cake not included, although we're really looking forward to seeing that as well.)

Like we said, you've already got your ticket, so you already know who you want to see, right?

O.K., tonight is a no brainer. Three legendary acts re-creating their seminal albums? How can one not say, "Yay!" whilst jumping up and down? Granted, more people have probably heard about Slint than have actually heard Slint, but the kids will sit rapt because they've been told Spiderland is the album that kicked off the post-rock noodling movement that infected a million bands. We say that with affection, since we remember hearing Spiderland when it came out and going "Holy shit!," but the kids might have a harder time seeing why it was revolutionary since they've heard the sound aped by (again) a million bands by now.

GZA? He'll kill. He's one of the few hip-hop artists we've seen that doesn't wilt under the stage lights.

But the draw? The kicker? The only reason we're going out tonight? Sonic-fucking-Youth. Daydream Nation truly was an album that both introduced and defined an era. Their labyrinthine guitars and thundering drums built up an epic landscape of sound that redefined the musical landscape. Really, any more words we write would be useless in trying to describe what a huge influence this foursome, though we're wondering if Jim O'Rourke will be filling out the guitar parts making the band a five-piece tonight, would be pointless. We expect tonight's performance to transcend language.

Reason number one we're looking forward to Saturday? It's going to be cool and breezy, so we won't be fighting off heat exhaustion this year. The second thing we're most looking forward to?

Girl Talk.

Actually, we wouldn't be surprised if late Saturday night, Yoko Ono was on the main stage playing to a crowd of 300, while mash-up DJ master Greg Gillis drew 16,700 folks into a fevered frenzy on the side stage. Thanks goodness there's no tent covering that stage this year, so everybody will be able to fit in.

Earlier in the day look for us to be napping during Grizzly Bear and Califone, in order to save up energy to fist-pump to Mastodon's mammoth riffs, Clipse's bare-bone beats and coke-harrowed tales, and (O.K., maybe no fist-pumping here as we retreat to the tired-and-true "arms folded hipster head bob" dance) the layered post-prog practiced by Battles.

See, we can reduce a band's entire career to four word, who needs three sentences?!

2007_07_ponys.jpgHave you hear the new New Pornographers disc? It's really great. And by that we mean it's interchangeable with any of their previous albums as far as being spot-on, super-catchy power-pop. Hyphen. This group always puts on a good show, and since Neko Case will be appearing with them, expect hordes of swooning fanboys to rush the stage in hopes of a glimpse of one of the mainstream's favorite sexy girls in indie-rock. And those pipes of hers? Sweet Mary, mother of Jesus, those pipes. O.K., maybe no Neko. And according to a friend of ours at TOC there'll be no Dan Bejar either, thus -- in his words -- making the band "more like the Softcore Pornographers." Eh, they'll still be entertaining. But we'll miss Neko.

Stephen Malkmus
will probably be our highlight of the day, even if he does play -- as threatened -- solo. We suspect he'll bring along a band of non-Jicks, but even without rhythmic muscle his songs stand the acoustic test of still being ingratiating sans feedback. And if he play a Pavement cut we'll swoon as if George Clooney just made a pass at us.

And De La Soul, seriously Pitchfork, how DID you book such a kick-ass and varied line-up this year? We've been fans since the '80s, and still want to see Trugoy swing, swing, swing! But don't mistake this trio as a nostalgia act. The group has continued to consistently put out terrific, if generally overlooked, albums, and there guest spot on the last Gorillaz album hopefully garnered them a new generation of fans. So if De La Soul plays this year, does that mean we get Public Enemy next year? We hope so.

The two underdogs, and we're only saying this because they're not U2-big yet, are The Ponys and Of Montreal. Chicago's Ponys know how to whip up an old-school frenzy of distorto-pop straight from the garage, and while the band's live sets have been hit or miss as of late, we expect them to be on fire for Pitchfork. And Of Montreal was one of the bands that caught us totally off guard at last year's Lollapalooza, with their eccentric costumes and over-the-top stage show. On album, their indie styling had alway struck as as slightly pretentious, but live they take those wisps of songs and inflate them to gargantuan proportions. We predict they'll have the most people dancing on Sunday


Preview-shmeeview. That's what we're MOST stoked to see, though keep in mind that just about every single act booked has piqued our interest or can claim us as an all-out fan. Keep checking back with Chicagoist all weekend long for a variety of viewpoints, day-by-day reports, photos, and all sorts of other fun stuff. And then we'll meet up on Monday for a full recap? Sound like a deal?


UPDATE: We've just learned that the Blue line between Western and Clark/Lake is going to be closed all weekend. Way to plan ahead, CTA!

Photo of The Ponys by Rocco Kasby