Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 Day Three: Finishing In Style

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 21, 2014 4:30PM

It was a little muggy and overcast as Speedy Ortiz took the Blue Stage to open Sunday’s festivities in Union Park for the Pitchfork Music Festival. The young group has already built up a reasonably deep catalog to draw from and they played old tracks, brand new just-released singles and unreleased songs. Their sound draws heavily from the realm of early '90s indie guitar rock and they didn’t skimp on the volume. Singer and guitarist Sadie Dupuis shredded across the stage, ripping out atonal solos that pierced through the summer haze and glistened as the clouds drew back and the sun lit up the field. Just before the end of the set drummer Mike Falcone cemented the band's 90s ties as he shouted out, “Rock over London, rock on Chicago! Walgreens, the pharmacy America trusts!” in tribute to Chicago’s own gone but not forgotten icon Wesley Willis. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Perfect Pussy took the Blue Stage next and we get it, they are loud, brash and oh so punk. We’ll admit it was startling to see singer Meredith Graves’ transition from sweetly, demure shy girl as she apologized for some opening technical difficulties to ferocious frontwoman for the band. She kicked, she danced and she did some move over and over that was a weird cross between skanking to the beat and skipping down the street, all the while yowling ferociously into her microphone. The rest of the band did their part to create an impenetrable din that settled wetly over the crowd. The only problem was that while all the pieces were there they didn’t amount to much of anything. The band has the show down pat, but we couldn’t locate the feeling that should have been within. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

As Perfect Pussy faded into the background we made our way across the field to catch the second half of DIIV’s set. Their gentle shoegaze was a welcome respite from the wall of noise falling behind us, but it took us a minute or two to stop laughing at the huge backdrop spelling out the band’s name in 20-foot letters. C’mon guys, this is Pitchfork, not Wembley. We were hoping the band’s music would match up to their selection of stage dressing, but for a group built on a foundation of reverb and distortion heir set came across as being rather polite. At certain points we wondered if the massive amounts of herbal enhancers we smelled coming from the field in front of them had lulled the band a little too deeply into complacency. Which made the set that followed theirs the perfect antidote. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Love is found at Pitchfork! Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy.
Deafheaven became the first band in our experience at the festival this weekend to truly fill the enormous field in front of the the Green Stage with sound. The band began as a duo—singer George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy—but has since expanded to a quintet. As the group slowly built up their opening number “Dream House,” Clarke stood at the front of the stage, straining with barely suppressed tension to create a taut anticipation that saw release as he started screaming into the microphone. No, screaming isn’t the right word. Whatever it was that his voice was doing should have left his vocals chords shredded and hanging down the side of his mouth. It was massive. And the band kept up with him building a mixture of symphonic metal so large it truly did reach and permeate the grounds all the way to the back of the entry gates. Our personal crescendo was achieved in the middle of the band’s song “Sunbather” as it just turned into this euphoric wall of nose reaching to the heavens. The day was back on track. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Two weeks ago, it was unclear whether Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt would even appear at Pitchfork this year. The youngest member of the Los Angeles hip-hop collective announced that he was canceling all of his remaining summer tour dates after becoming fatigued and malnourished on the road. Despite this, Earl showed up on Sunday to put on one of the best performances from any rapper all weekend. Joined by Odd Future crony Domo Genesis, Earl tore through a set that spanned the entirety of his young career. Early Odd Future highlights like the Gucci Mane sampling “Orange Juice” still sound great even when juxtaposed against the 20-year-old’s newer and grittier songs like “Hive.” Per usual, the set saw the rapper making fun of audience members for not participating and stopping songs dead in their tracks to banter with a rowdy crowd. If this was Earl at a physical low, there’s no doubting what he will be capable of when he feels healthy again. — Robert Martin

The Dum Dum Girls played it straight on the Blue Stage. Dee Dee Penny and company were dressed to kill in black crop tops and tights, but their lo-fi indie pop performance was more of a girl group sing-along than an attack. Sounding “pretty great” if predictable is still a feat in a festival setting. Perhaps the secluded stage provides a false sense of intimacy with energy not easily carrying to the back of the crowd. Regardless, in a set that included “Bedroom Eyes” and “Rimbaud Eyes” all eyes were on the Dum Dum Girls. — Jessica Mlinaric

Quincey Matthew Hanley raps under the moniker Schoolboy Q and we caught the first half of his set that was basically a massive, bouncing party in the field in front of the Green Stage. His major label debut Oxymoron topped the Billboard chart when it was released and it was easy to see why. Hooks intertwine with Hanley’s looping vocal delivery, creating a rhythm it’s easy to get yourself lost within. And the booming bass that saturated the field, causing chests to throb and heads to bob, didn’t hurt either. Hip-hop may have been built in the clubs, meaning that it doesn’t always translate well to the big stage, but Hanley proved up to the challenge, commanding the stage and keeping the crowd focused on the task at hand, which was getting lost in the party he was throwing. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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The crowd getting lost in Jon Hopkins' grooves. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy.

Every once in a while I see an electronic music set that reminds me why I loved it in my younger days. Jon Hopkins was one of those sets. The accomplished UK producer (Coldplay, Massive Attack, Brian Eno, Herbie Hancock) took the stage surrounded by speaker stacks forming a V around his table set up. He got started with a mellow, loungy beat that had a little volume competition from Schoolboy Q’s set already in full swing on the main stage, but there was a point where I could swear that there was some beat matching. It was a carefully crafted set for the time allotted, slowly escalating in volume, speed and tension, and the audience was locked in for the duration. Sure it’s fun to occasionally listen to EDM with a home-run-derby of bass drops, but it can get tiresome. There’s more to appreciate in an EDM style like Hopkins’. — Michelle Meywes

Back when Slowdive first emerged from England’s shoegazer scene, the airy, ambient psychedelic rock played by the quintet was characterized by one NME writer as being relaxed enough to “make Cocteau Twins resemble Mudhoney.” So imagine one’s surprise that the band, whose performance Sunday at Pitchfork was only their second U.S. gig since reuniting after a nearly 20-year absence, straight rocked the faces off the early evening crowd. Slowdive were the most aptly-named band for their kind of set at this time of day-a pleasant fall into dreamy, booming sound during a slowly setting sun. Then the band brought the rock. The mix was perfect, deftly blending the group’s more muscular live 2014 incarnation with the nuanced, atmospheric touches of their studio albums that the band recreated. Slowdive took tracks from all three of their records-’90s albums Just For A Day, Souvlaki, and Pygmalion—and added arena-rock weight which never threatened to become bombastic or pompous. lnstead, extended versions of minimal, dub-influenced tracks like “Crazy For You” and “Blue Eyed An’ Clear” became soaring, transcendent anthems for a stunned audience. A slightly reworked version of Souvlaki classic “When The Sun Hits” outfuzzed even The Jesus And Mary Chain, while set closer "Golden Hair," a cover of a Syd Barrett song Slowdive recorded for an early EP, served as noisy, rousing end to a triumphant set. Even certain Seattle grunge acts would’ve been impressed.— Jon Graef

Joined by over 20 dancers, Chicago’s DJ Spinn lit up the Blue Stage with a fiery set of tracks championed by his longtime friend, the late DJ Rashad. The Chicago footwork legend died in April after suffering a blood clot in his leg. Watching the Tekklife crew twist and shake at dizzying speeds to the choppy beats, it was clear how influential Rashad’s music was to the scene that started in Chicago. Spinn took several moments throughout the hour long set to pay tribute to his old partner in crime. Footwork may never be the same without DJ Rashad, but Sunday’s performance gave hope for the future of the genre.— Robert Martin

Claire Elise Boucher, a.k.a. Grimes, delivered on an excellent set despite tethering herself behind a pile of electronics much of the time. She was augmented by two dancers meant to bolster the energy but Grimes could have held the stage on her own had she chosen. She exuded energy and projected far into the audience even when crouched down and twiddled with knobs to trigger the next sample or cue a backing track. We came looking for a party and she delivered. That said we’re curious what Boucher could accomplish if she decided to augment herself with an actual backing band. If she can get people (literally) dancing in the rafters while juggling all the technical aspects of the music delivery during her set, what could she accomplish if untethered? — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Kendrick Lamar wasn’t Pusha T late, but he did keep audiences waiting for a fair amount of time Sunday night. The difference is Kendrick absolutely owned the set, reviving the festival-weary crowd with an exhilarating performance. He strode onstage to “Money Trees” before launching into “Backseat Freestyle” and even elicited a great response when venturing out of Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City territory. Kendrick’s performance prowess has only increased since we caught him at last year’s Lollapalooza, enhanced by live band backing worthy of a festival headliner. Considering most of Top Dawg Entertainment made a Pitchfork appearance this year we were hoping for a Black Hippy or other TDE guest spot, but the Compton rapper who calls Chicago his second home was quite at home on his own. Watching Kendrick rap, “Goddamn I feel amazing, damn I'm in the matrix” was a satisfying close to a weekend that’s always otherworldly and amazing indeed. — Jessica Mlinaric