Stick a fork in it
Best bands aren't headlining this weekend at Pitchfork
07/11/2012 10:00 PM
It seems like music festivals are popping up like gophers around Chicago these days. From Lollapalooza to small street fests, there’s no shortage of great bands playing in and around Chicago.
Union Park has emerged as one of the hot spots in the city, hosting at least three festivals this summer. But this weekend, the event that pioneered the park as a venue for music festivals is returning.
Yep, Pitchfork Music Festival is back.
While you’ll still be able to see a few mustaches some skinny, pasty hipsters who look like they haven’t seen the sun in two years, the festival’s crowd has diversified a bit over the years. But just because some of the crowd may have gotten more mainstream, that doesn’t mean the music is any less edgy.
Friday and Sunday headliners Feist and Vampire Weekend have gotten their fair share of commercial attention. As usual though, some of the most compelling and exciting acts at Pitchfork aren’t headlining — they’re filling slots in the afternoon.
Japandroids, who just released one of the most powerful, energetic visceral rock albums of 2012, could steal the show when they take the stage on Friday evening. The duo’s latest, Celebration Rock, captures the aimlessness and hopelessness of Bruce Springsteen’s Anytown, U.S.A. (even though they’re Canadian) and channels it through a frenetic post-punk filter. The sound is huge, and you’ll be humming tracks like “Younger Us” and “Adrenaline Nightshift” for days.
On the opposite end of the pop spectrum Friday is Olivia Tremor Control, a member of the Elephant Six Collective that included Of Montreal and Neutral Milk Hotel. The recently reunited band’s trademark is vast psychedelic soundscapes that sprout in the middle of jangly pop melodies.
Saturday has perhaps the richest lineup. Cults gets things started early with their charming 1960s girl group impression. Youth Lagoon paints sparse sonic landscapes with synthesizers and echoey vocals that evoke serenity and, yeah, youth.
Wild Flag’s reboot of girl-led rock ‘n’ roll drew big attention when they debuted in late 2010. Led by Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia, she hasn’t missed a step with her ability to lead a group of punky women. They tore up Wicker Park Fest last year — expect them to do the same here.
Headlining Saturday is Godspeed You! Black Emperor, an orchestral group that patches together songs from violin, bass and percussion, as well as radio samples and guitar. From time to time, they’ve featured a French horn player. After splitting up for close to a decade, the band’s live show is garnering rave reviews.
One of the most compelling acts all weekend will play in the middle of the afternoon Sunday. Thee Oh Sees is an energetic and prolific group that easily whips crowds into a frenzy during their live shows. Expect a mosh pit at this one. The Men follow at the same stage, and put forth a similar brand of driven, post-punk-ish rock, but slightly more poppy.
Sunday’s penultimate act is Beach House, and lead singer Victoria Legrand’s dreamy crooning drapes on top of guitarist Alex Scally’s bubbly, ethereal guitar. Their latest, Bloom, combines the two to create lush soundscapes, perfect to wash over you as the sun sets on another year of Pitchfork in Union Park.