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Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Day Three

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 16, 2012 7:00PM

Keeping cool on the front lines at Pitchfork Music Festival. Photo by Jim Kopeny

After two days of soggy surroundings, Pitchfork Music Festival day three was a return to the familiar climate of previous years; unrelenting sun, heat and humidity. We spent the day taking in bands and visiting the various vendors onsite. While the Chirp Record Fair was easily found we admit it took us awhile to locate the new Book Fort and the Pitchfork standby and artist alley Flatstock. In fact it was only after we made what we thought was a wrong turn off festival grounds that we figured out where these spots were. Hopefully the area had its ore crowded moments over the weekend because when we were there it was on the low end of the foot traffic scale. Which is really too bad since we like to think the Pitchfork Music Festival, while certainly focused on musical acts, likes to embrace the entire spectrum within the musical community at large. It was a little sad to see more people in the Heineken cooling tent (though believe us, its presence did provide some welcome relief from the heat) then we saw in all of Flatstock during our visit there. So what did we do when not touring vendors or trying to beat the heat? We watched a bunch of bands! - Tankboy

Iceage We’ll start this off by saying that stealing a band’s gear is pretty shitty, and it’s always especially heartbreaking to hear about it happening on a festival weekend. Well that’s just how Danish punk rockers Iceage started their weekend, with someone swiping their guitars in Wicker Park on Thursday night (if you see something, say something). But this didn’t stop the group from playing Sunday afternoon. Lead singer Elias Bender R√łnnenfelt even dedicated a song to the jerks who took their stuff. In their short but raucous set, they managed to blow out two amps, giving you an idea of just how noisy these kids are. Crews scrambled to replace the equipment, and without fanfare, the group was at it again. Their debut album, New Brigade, is loaded with one- and two-minute screamo punk gems, and that’s exactly what they delivered to greet fest attendees filtering in under the beating sun. -Michelle Meywes

Ty Segall. Photo by Jim Kopeny

Before Ty Segall took the stage Sunday afternoon, Q101's Ryan Murhpy Dragy City's Rian Murphy (Ed. note: last seen baiting the crowd waiting for Pavement) appealed to the audience for a "kinder, gentler mosh pit." Sage advice, because last time we caught Ty Segall, his band was raucous and the moshers were violent. The passionate crowd reaction is usually the most volatile or scary thing about a Ty Segall performance; Segall himself looks less like a menacing shredder and more like a boyish young man with California surfer hair.

But as easygoing and cheerfully amused as Segall appears, he's a monster heavyweight of a guitarist and frontman. A balls-to-the-wall approach might not have been sustainable on a hot festival day, so the band typically did soft/hard dynamic: "I Bought My Eyes" started in a less thrashing manner only to erupt into scuzzy, blistering guitars a moment later. "Can't Talk To You" and "I Am With You," both older songs from the Segall's relentless output, creep slowly with walking baselines or steady guitar intros before before exploding into a squealing, buzz-saw sound bomb.

Segall's set was one of the festival's most fun for a few reasons: he wasn't hampered by rain and storms and he didn't assume any posture of his being "important" or "complicated" music--which left him and his band free to be a silly. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been able to lead an "Oi! Oi! Oi!" chant before getting into a fun (and yeah, kinda goony) cover of AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds." But who doesn't have fun with AC/DC? Certainly not Ty Segall, who took the chance to growl into the mic on the "done dirt cheap" line, definitely not the audience, who was moshing dutifully, fists flailing and shouting along. -Kim Bellware

Real Estate is one of those bands we're not surprised to see on the bill, but can't figure out any which way. The band's music is sunny, tight and pretty inoffensive any way you cut it. But Real Estate also felt as if they had just one tempo--drowsy. Somehow, despite what seemed like very earnest efforts, Real Estate was the Ann Veal of Pitchfork: quiet, unremarkable and easy to ignore. It was all too easy to wander away at that point. Sincerely, we're all ears for Real Estate fans to elaborate on what we may have missed--there's got to be a good reason the band is popular. We just couldn't hear it in their Sunday set. - Kim Bellware

Chavez. Photo by Jim Kopeny

Chavez has released no new material since 1996, but the quartet with some strong Chicago roots played as if they’d never stopped practicing three times a week together. Matt Sweeny and Clay Tarver’s guitars nw when to clash atonally and when to merge together in great swaths of sound held down by Scott Marshall’s steady bass and propelled forward by James Lo’s incredibly wild and powerful drumming. Their set came at the height of the day’s heat but a dedicated crowd of old fans filled in the area by the stage and we saw more than a few people who were obviously unfamiliar with the band go from lightly nodding their head to energetic foot stomping and dancing in place. A band with Chavez’s pedigree could have surfed by on nostalgia (as we’ve seen more than a few similarly aged acts do at Pitchfork in recent years) but the band ht the stage with the fervor of a small club show and turned in one of the best sets of the entire weekend. - Tankboy

We heard it said of Flying Lotus' Saturday set that the crowd was into the music, but unsure of what to do about it. If that's true, the crowd had even less of an idea what to do with Araabmuzik. The crowd was plenty energized by Abrahamwhen Orellana's beats, which was fortunate for him since his set took a while to really hit its stride. For those who could see, either from the stage or the big screen, watching Orellana's fingers zoom over his MPC drum pad was purely astonishing, and it had to be his tremendous blast beats that kept the audience's enthusiasm riding high since the first several tracks seemed to wear out their welcome by the time he switched to a new song. Just when the cuts were starting to sound dangerously same-y, Orellana switched up the momentum, shifting to shorter, tighter tracks. The crowd cheered at even the quickest flash of vocals, and hands all the way to the back rows shot up Orellana called for a show of hands. A few more recognizable samples, like the intro to DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat" and Araabmuzik had the crowd going positively nuts.

And right at the fever pitch of his set, Araabmuzik ceded the stage--as well as all the momentum he had built during his set--to a few young Chicago rappers. Yes, rumblings of a Chief Keef appearance indeed came to pass, but Keef, joined by Lil' Reese added nothing to mix. He may have meant well, but letting Keef and company onstage meant a limp-dick finish to an otherwise stellar set. -Kim Bellware

To add a few additional thoughts on Araabmuzik, he brought on the bro-step contingent and while part of us finds that really annoying, the other part of us had to marvel at his lightning-fingered MIDI skills. And the vibe was simply to have big dumb fun and it’s hard to hate on anyone who can get a crowd dancing that fervently in the midday heat. Oddly it was Chief Keef’s second most buzzed about cameo of the day (numero uno was Lady GaGa popping in to watch Kendrick Lamar earlier) that torpedoed the set and sucked all the momentum out of the crowd. Once the kids finished excitedly taking his picture with their sea of cellphone cameras, the dancing stopped and boredom set in. We’ve heard Chief Keef is a major upcoming talent but he just wasn’t a good fit with the party vibe that had held the crowd’s attention up until that point. - Tankboy

Beach House. Photo by Jim Kopeny

They look lovely, they sound lovely…but does ethereal, lullaby music play well in the festival setting? If you're Beach House, it sure does. Proximity plays a part, though. Steady drums and gentle vocals sound like great white noise over which to have a chat with your friends; it's not the immersive, wondrous experience Beach House's music can be. Solution? Move up to the middle of the crowd and presto--Victoria Legrand's vocals, while gauzy and warm, take on extra heft. Reminiscent of The Bangles minus Susanna Hoffs, "The Hours" sparkled with guitar and organ. "Zebra" unfolded corner by corner into a gorgeous lullaby that eventually swelled with ticking drums and floating backup vocals.

Even with a little sound bleed from The Field's set on the Blue Stage, Beach House has cracked the code to making ambient, pretty music enthralling rather than incidental. "10 Mile Stereo" doesn't dwell too long on the guitar refrain before the clattering drums disrupt any temptation to doze. The slow builds, smart change-ups all swirled together with perfection kept the crowd wide awake, yet dreaming on their feet. If Beach House can ever find a way to bottle and sell that magic formula, they could just quit the whole music racket altogether. But the last thing we'd want is for Beach House to go away. - Kimberly Bellware

The Field laid down a hypnotic set mixing electronics and live rock, and basically over-delivered on our own modest expectations. Unfortunately we were one of the few to witness this since apparently this festival crowd was far more interested in being put to sleep by Beach House’s set across the field. - Tankboy

Vampire Weekend closed out the evening and the festival as a whole. The last time we saw the band at Pitchfork they completely underwhelmed us in their midday slot. And the group’s albums have never exactly offended us but we’ve always found them to be slight and generic affairs. Seriously, has any other band owed so much of their career to a single Paul Simon album? So to say we looked forward to exiting the park early during their set would be an understatement. However, we decided to tough it out and admit that of all the headliners, Vampire Weekend was the most successful. Now that they have a few solid years of touring under their belt they no longer even try to pretend they’re some earnest indie combo and now embrace the fact that they’re a really polite party band with one reliably bouncy groove the crowd doesn’t kind hearing over and over again. So let’s dub this closing act “How I stopped worrying about integrity and learned to appreciate that people can like Vampire Weekend without raising my ire.” And with that we stepped towards the exit and bid adieu to Union Park for the final time this weekend. - Tankboy