Musical gluttony. That’s the best way to describe the three-day affair known as the Pitchfork Music Festival. 2013 will go down as the year severe storms cut the set of Icelandic princess Bjork short (that’s the sound of a thousand fairies crying) and R. Kelly unleashed a flock of fake white doves into the sweltering night sky. Here’s how it all went down:
With the heat subsiding Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette celebrates the occasion by behaving like a zoo monkey that has managed to slip its captors. He preens and poses with so much sarcasm, he’s instantly charming everyone who arrived early. At one point, he and guitarist Bradley Fry attempt to outmaneuver each other for the affections of the photographers huddled in the pit. Though his demeanor is cartoonish, the music is never an afterthought. Korvette throws himself into the songs. The guy is a believer and he’s going to sell it until you are part of his congregation. One of the weekends highlights.
Parquet Courts are enjoying the success of their debut release Light Up Gold. It’s a mostly straight-forward guitar rock collection with an ear to the ground, scooping up some rich melodies and couching them on a bedrock foundation. Another weekend high point with the six stringers leading the charge.
The aggression continues with Austin’s . . . And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, who pull heavily from their criminally ignored major label debut to remind the gathered that it doesn’t have to suck just because a giant corporation released it. The quartet also uses the occasion to work out material scheduled for an upcoming album. The band’s strengths are all in play as the afternoon heats up. Songs pummel listeners to within an inch of their lives, only to let the victim rise, regain hope, and, once again, have their teeth kicked in. Devious yes, but oh so effective.
Having released one of this years finest records, Savages arrive on these shores with buckets of hype preceding the cause. The all-female foursome take to the stage clad in black-on-black and get down to business. Singer Jehnny Beth stalked the stage – stiff, twitchy, and uneasy, as if the only way to release the song was to scratch it from her flesh. Ayse Hassan‘s bass lines lacerate and punctuate Fay Milton‘s impossibly ferocious drumming. As if playing with the fat side of her sticks wasn’t punishment enough, she frequently propelled herself off the stool, just to ensure some additional thwack.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their release, Last Splash, The Breeders sure seem like they don’t know how to party. Lead off track “Cannonball” drew the biggest response with its quirky bass and classic lines like “Spitting in a wishing well” and “The bong in this reggae song.” However, after that the balloon felt deflated. Kim Deal still feels like your cool, chain-smoking aunt who’ll totally make a beer run for you and your high school friends, but even that presence couldn’t save this one.
There’s more than one talent in the Knowles family. Sure, big sister Beyonce gets all the press, but her sister Solange made a case for herself late Saturday afternoon. With a choice timeslot and a ridiculously awesome band, little sis was super smooth. With a 1000-watt smile and serpentine moves, Solange delivered a modern update of old soul music and even provided some bootylicious moments that might make R. Kelly blush.
Rain again? Yep. Not enough to cancel the proceedings, but Scottish band Belle And Sebastian performed the majority of their set as a steady downpour baptized the masses. Their fey, light-to-the-touch pop songs seem like an odd choice to close out day two, but “The Boy With The Arab Strap” eclipsed all doubts by turning into a rained-out campfire sing-along.
– Curt Baran
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