Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 Day Two: Don't Stop The Rock

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 21, 2013 6:00PM

Saturday's solid line-up kept all of us rushing from stage to stage. In Pitchforks past I know I usually end up with pockets of time between acts I either really need or want to see so I often have plenty of time to relax, at least for a portion of the day. Yesterday had the strongest booking of the weekend, in my opinion, proven by non-stop travel between stages and relatively little time spent catching my breath in the shade. And I speak for my Chicagoist compatriots when I say we all had the same problem and were pretty exhausted by day's end. There was just so much good music none of us wanted to miss any of it! But in the end we did divide and conquer so here are our thoughts of the standouts, and lesser moments, of Saturday's sets. -Tankboy

White Lung

We absolutely loved White Lung's latest album Sorry. It was a brash, thoroughly punk rock prize. So you can imagine how excited we were to catch their live set at Pitchfork on Saturday. When singer Mish Way opted to keep her stationary mic stand on stage though we were a little let down. Sorry makes us want to move — something that the four band mates actually did very little of throughout their set. We have to cut them some slack though. As Way pointed out, it was "very early and very bright."

That said, the live songs sounded awesome and the crowd didn't take long to open up an impressively sized mosh pit. "If you guys can do that this early in the day, you're all right," Way commended. After running through mostly songs off their aforementioned sophomore album and one new one titled "Blow It South," the band played the last note of "Take The Mirror," turned and left the stage in one seamless, abrupt motion. - Katie Karpowicz

Pissed Jeans

Seven seconds into Pissed Jeans' performance and we already knew why everyone is so enamored with lead singer Matt Korvette. "Whoo! Sorry if I'm a little too excited, everyone," Korvette exclaimed as he bounded out on stage. "I just found out how much we're getting paid for this!"

The band proceeded to unleash 40 minutes of hardcore rock with the dull speed and crushing weight of a sledgehammer. Shout out to bassist Randy Huth for keeping the rhythm section tight with some quick and relentless finger picking — a technique that's absent in far too many contemporary rock bands. Korvette's personality never let up as he continued to spout tongue-in-cheek quips and ham it up for the cameras in between and even during songs. - Katie Karpowicz

Parquet Courts

While there was nothing glaringly wrong with Parquet Courts' set, it just fell flat for us. The guitar tones found on their 2012 LP Light Up Gold and other recorded tracks didn't translate to the stage and the band ended up sounding like overly generic Americana rock 'n roll. It also didn't help that the vocals were either too low in the mix or too saturated with reverb. We couldn't understand a single word coming out of vocalist Andrew Savage's mouth and eventually lost interest. - Katie Karpowicz

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

I had the good fortune to see ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead at Double Door earlier this week, so I had a good idea what to expect from their Pitchfork set and they delivered pretty much what I expected: a tornado of sound magnified by the band's frenzied stage presence as band members switched instruments and twisted and writhed across the stage as if possessed. The band sometimes gets tagged as being proggy or, in the classic sense of the word, emo, but to my ears the music is simply co-frontmen Jason Reece and Conrad Keely's attempt to channel inner turmoil into what is their idea of a catchy tune. Sure, that means those tunes often end up savage and turbulent, with onstage antics to match, and that's exactly what they delivered under the blazing sun. What was easily the hottest time of the day was matched by the fury of the band's inner flame and we feel lucky we were able to walk away without being completely incinerated. - Tankboy

Savages

After not being all that blown away by what I saw of Savages Friday night at Lincoln Hall, I was excited to give them another chance at the festival to see what all the chatter was about. The all-female post-punk group from London clad in all black brought the rock this time around. Lead singer Jehnny Beth definitely earns the front-woman title with moves that could be frightening and yet commanding, sharp and tense, with the sense that she could just break out of the mold that holds her at any moment. Take a glance to the back of the stage for a moment though, and you’ll also see drummer Fay Milton whaling on the drums, at one point we noticed actually standing up at the set pounding away with arms high. While we’re still not completely sold that this group is necessarily the future of rock, I was definitely enraptured by their tightly wound set. - Michelle Meywes

METZ

The Canadian trio METZ was number one on my list of most anticipated sets for the afternoon. I've always just missed them when they came through Chicago and I absolutely love the crushing power of their debut album. The band was also just nominated for Canada's Polaris prize, so apparently I'm not alone in thinking they're something pretty special. Their set under the shade of the trees at the Blue Stage delivered exactly what I'd hoped for: basic, primal drumming, lockstep riffs that come across like a dump-truck flying off a bridge in a loop to repeatedly smash into the concrete below, and vocals that relied more on channeling raw emotion than any interest of exerting control. Despite the solace offered by the leaves above from the sun I still found myself in a cold sweat, marveling at just how great something that is also so simple can be. - Tankboy

Swans

So this is the sound of the apocalypse. Huh. If you were looking to be scared out of your wits then Swans' repetitive and thunderous attack should have done the trick. - Tankboy

Ryan Hemsworth

Ryan Hemsworth's late afternoon set marked a change of pace for us in the midst of a rock-heavy day. Known for lending his production skills to many a rap artist, we weren't surprised to hear a heavy hip hop influence in his DJ set that otherwise consisted of airy bleeps and bloops drifting through the shady grove surrounding the blue stage. We counted three Yeezus samples. It was easy to lose ourselves in his swaying beats save for a small number of times the transition between loops was a little jarring -- reminding us once again that DJing skills and production skills, while in the same genus, are two completely different beasts. - Katie Karpowicz

The Breeders

Look, while I was standing by the side of the stage to get a better view of Swans, Kim Deal came out near us and did a mic check and tingles went up and down my spine. You see, back n the day, every boy had a massive crush on Kim Deal. Heck, every girl did too! She is the coolest of the cool; how many other women can pick up from the destruction of a genre defining band and then go on to start a "side project" that proves to be even more popular? The Breeders' set was a trip into the past as they ran through Last Splash and sprinkled in a couple other tunes from various points in their career. Through it all Kim was the affable ringleader, occasionally bouncing the attention off to her twin sister Kelley, and by the end I felt like I was watching some friends play a tight but welcoming set at a backyard BBQ. - Tankboy

Low

With greetings from Lake Superior, Low quickly enveloped the crowd In the intimate environs of the blue side stage, into their chilly, sparse and rich musical world. The band's exclusive focus on harmony stood in stark contrast to the bluster of many main stage acts. But spurts of angry distorted guitar offered jarring loudness as impactful as any of The Swans bombast. The maturity of the music could clearly be seen in the crowd: by far the greyest we saw in the day. Grey or not, hair on the back of everyone's neck went up as the haunting closing harmonies echoed into the night. —Josh Mogerman

Solange

And here we thought we were going to have to wait until Sunday to bump and grind. "Chicago, I want you to turn this whole field into a high school grind fest," Solange beckoned the crowed early on in her set. She wasn't leaving all the work to us either. The soulful and sassy songstress busted out a number of moves throughout her set that wouldn't look out of place on a "Best of 'Soul Train'" reel -- and she did it all in heels.

Here set was actually cleaner, poppier and more reminiscent of something we'd expect from her older sister—last comparison, we promise. That is until the time came to play "Locked in Closets," more the dance-inducing, funky stuff we were looking for. The crowd went crazy for "Sandcastle Love" and it's a good thing because after that she inexplicably left the stage 15 minutes before her set was schedule to end. If you're gonna ditch the party early, better leave on a high note. - Katie Karpowicz

Belle & Sebastian

It's been many years since we really found Belle & Sebastian to be compellingly relevant, but that said we found what we saw of their main stage closing set to be a delight. Stuart Murdoch brought the whole massive Scottish combo to the stage to recreate the band's pristine chamber pop sounds and everything was executed with great precision. The only thing unexpected was Murdoch's own stage presence, since he's shed the shrinking violet attitude and now carries the swagger of a man who knows al his lady troubles of the past are far behind him. Overall though, this was the perfect choice to close out the evening since the sheer number of people onstage provided the right visual spectacle, along with expert execution from a band that is obviously playing to and holding the attention of even much larger festival crowds. For being what was arguably the "smallest name" group to headline the three days, I think their set will probably stand out as the most satisfying. - Tankboy

Rustie

We wish we had better things to say about Rustie's closing set (opposite Belle & Sebastian) as it was one of our most anticipated, but that's unfortunately not the case. It took ten full minutes before the Scottish electronic music producer began playing anything that resembled rhythm or melody. Sudden blasts of bass and random sound effects trickled out of the speakers instead for the first fourth of his 40-minute set. When things finally did get going he was quick to pull the plug — as in completely stop the music at its peak — recreating the same stop and start rhythm that a live band would implement in between songs. The whole set seemed like an attempt to be "progressive" and "ambitious" but we just found it off-putting and impossible to get into. - Katie Karpowicz