Things started off on the pokey side Friday night, but with 20 hours of festival on the horizon, it was probably for the best. Electro-poppers Hundred Waters owned Pitchfork’s unfortunate 3:30pm slot before Neneh Cherry reeled in the post-work crowd with her first US set since 1992. Sharon Van Etten and Sun Kil Moon dropped a one-two punch of main-stage gloominess (though Van Etten admittedly did it with more volume). Animal Collective spinoff Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks made an astounding amount of noise for a mere trio, and backed it up with a near-blinding light show. Synth-disco throwback Giorgio Moroder’s dance moves might be the highlight of the day (imagine an arthritic version of late-’70s staples), and by the time Beck took the Green Stage for his hit-heavy set, there were more people closing in with two drinks than there were with one.
Day One of the Pitchfork Music Festival officially kicked off Friday and the mood of the music felt as mellow and idyllic as the picture perfect weather. Seriously, you couldn’t order up a better afternoon for live music in Chicago’s Union Park.
HUNDRED WATERS created mood music that felt as lazy and comforting as the evening’s lite breeze. FACTORY FLOOR worked within the same milieu as Hundred Waters but adds aggression and furious beats. In short order, the crowd surfing began and the bodies got pulled over the barricades.
NENEH CHERRY hasn’t made an appearance in the U.S. since the early 1990’s. Her set is forward looking, mixing dance, pop and hip-hop and sounds baked-today fresh.
When she first played Pitchfork a few years back, SHARON VAN ETTEN was a lone troubadour on one of the main stages. Friday she came armed with a band and material from one of this year’s finest records (Are We There). SZA sounds like a techno chanteuse. Unfortunately her material seems better suited to a small jazz club than a grassy knoll.
SUN KILL MOON also seemed out of place on one of the festival’s larger main stages. Chief songwriter Mark Kozelek crafted songs that are so precise they create five minute films in the heads of his listeners. On this day, however, the material seems outmatched in the expansiveness of the late afternoon.
74 year-old GIORGIO MORODER delivered a history lesson on dance music in the late 20th Century. He blasted through hits he created with, among others, Donna Summer, Blondie and, most recently, Daft Punk. The set contains numerous “he did that song too!” moments.
As the day closed, BECK owns the audience. “Devil’s Haircut” was simply the prelude to a cavalcade of should-have-been-huge-hits that get fleshed out by his band that hits as hard as lightning splitting an oak. What started as a laid back Friday afternoon quickly raced to a raucous finish.
– Photos by Curt Baran