Pitchfork Music Festival Recap: Day Three

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 21, 2008 6:25PM

The Pitchfork Music Festival rolled to a triumphant close yesterday with a much-delayed set by Cut Copy literally stealing the show from the headlining Spoon. A few scheduling changes led to minor confusion between crowds from time-to time, but the organizers did a good job of trying to constantly remind people where they should be and when from the various on-stage announcements delivered by either Tim Tuten or Damon Locks throughout the day. It was also the dryest and warmest day of the weekend, but folks were looking out for each other and helped each other cope with the bright heat that settled over Union Park.

"It's not your imagination, we really are turning red." That was the opening salvo from Apples in Stereo frontman Robert Schneirder. Appropriate, then, that one of the better jams of their set was "The Sun is Out." As we mentioned last week, Apples in Stereo has been around a while, but the band's having just as much fun now. While hitting through tracks like "The Rainbow" and "Please," Schneider and the band bounced around and didn't let the heat keep them from a stellar set.

The same can be said for Les Savy Fav. We were just as interested to see Tim Harrington's amazing sideshow as we were to hear the band. And we weren't disappointed. Even from our vantage point in the shade, we were entertained by Harrington's antics: multiple costume changes (including a strange, half-leotard and Sherlock Holmes get-up) and hilarious quotes ("This is magic dream juice," as he spewed water on the frenzied crowd below before venturing deep into said crowd. Oh yeah, the music was pretty amazing, too.

Dodos and M Ward took the mood down a notch or twelve, offering folk-pop sets that actually translated well in a festival setting. In the past few years we've seen similar groups' sound get swallowed by the expanse of Union Park, but both groups -- particularly Dodos rhythm-heavy songs -- held the crowd's attention with brightly amplified sound.

After all this time, we still don't know how we've never seen Spiritualized before. But, by God, are we glad that's changed. Alternating between faster paced songs and more subdued material, J. Spaceman kept the crowd enraptured and the volume cranked as high as it would go. The set culminated in a thundering, earth-ripping version of "Come Together," as the sun finely sank behind the Union Park tree line. With J banging away on the guitar as the setting sun cast a glow on the band, it was easily one of our highlights of the entire weekend. Despite some sound issues, including the sound cutting out altogether for a few moments later in the set, the performance was every bit as epic as we expected. As for J's guitar throwing at the end, we couldn't tell if it was frustration or more spectacle. Either way, easily one of the highlights of the weekend for us.

The three-piece classic Dinosaur Jr line-up did their best to out-volume Spritualized, and we think the wall of Marshals behind J Mascis (um, what with all the "J" frontmen anyway?) might have been up to the challenge. Our ears are still ringing from the band's wall of sound created by churning drums and bass fighting their way through the squall of guitar. We missed the end of the set as we rushed across the park to try and catch Cut Copy, only to learn that they were a no show due to a flight delay. Dejected we walked back to catch the festival closing set from Spoon. We've seen the band once or twice a year for the past few years and are now used to their tight sets laced with shoulda-been indie pop hits. They've grown accustomed to playing festivals, but we still prefer them in the confines of smaller rooms. It's not that they can't meet the challenge of playing to a large crowd, it's just that we feel the intimate immediacy of their best material is sapped of some of it's power at a festival. it would have still been a lovely way to close out the festival had they actually been the last band to play.

Midway through Spoon's set we got a flurry of texts informing us Cut Copy had actually made it wand would be playing their set for as long as they could before the park's curfew! The Australian dance-rock band hit the stage and the wall-to-wall people exploded. Coming from the respectfully sedate crowd watching Spoon into this madhouse we were truly happy that this year the organizers put the third stage in a much larger area capable of accommodating the out-of-control dance party. Due to the aforementioned curfew, the band's set was cut short, but folks didn't leave grumbling since they were just happy the band got a chance to play at all. Personally, we were happy to see a weekend of such great music go out on such an exuberant high note, leading us to already wonder how Pitchfork is going to top themselves next year.

Additional reporting by Marcus Gilmer