Accidentally or not, Sunday was divided into three phases—if not by genre then at least by mood. First, there was the heavy phase: Grunge revivalists Speedy Ortiz preceded Syracuse punkers Perfect Pussy who preceded black metal quintet Deafheaven. All three bands elicited different reactions (rightfully—they’re hugely different bands), but at a festival dominated by light indie and hip-hop, this trio’s distorted guitars helped them stand out. Then came the hip-hop phase: Isaiah Rashad, Earl Sweatshirt, and Schoolboy Q, anchored by Earl, who’s closer in age (if not younger) than most of Pitchfork’s actual attendees. (He had the stage banter to prove it.) Then, finally, there was the snooze phase: Surf rockers Real Estate, shoegaze pioneers Slowdive, and ambient electropoppers Majical Cloudz. Once Pitchforkers were properly glossy-eyed from 90 minutes of dreampop and the wish-wash it’s influenced, Canadian pop star/DJ/all-around pixie Grimez took the stage to whoop things back into shape. On top of her own frolicking, the DJ employed two ribbon dancers and some serious multitasking , synthesizer-wise, which brings us to Kendrick Lamar: One of the absolute loudest festival sets we’ve ever heard. The Compton rapper employed both a full band and DJ to support his headlining set, and delayed his start-time by twenty minutes—presumably to let the sun set, allowing his three-panel LCD backdrop to glow at its brightest. All told, it was well worth the wait.
It was an hour before PERFECT PUSSY’S performance on the smaller Blue Stage and the crowd is already beginning to swell. When the quartet plug in at 1:55, subtlety is all but abated. The songs are fast, abusive and the band’s intensity rises up to meet the material’s malicious intent.
If Perfect Pussy had a heavy metal doppelgänger, DEAFHEAVEN would make an excellent candidate. The band thunders away with an approach that leaves no doubt that they are into it!
DUM DUM GIRLS look as if they stepped out of the pages of a 1960’s Vogue magazine fashion spread. The music matches the image but adds a hint of punk rock menace and impossibly red lips.
REAL ESTATE would have fit nicely into Friday’s decidedly mellow vibe. They come off as laid back and a bit to fey for a final day slot.
Shoegazer’s SLOWDIVE sent out waves of dissonance across Union Park. They’re cut from the same mold as My Bloody Valentine, without the ear crushing volume. Considering their decade long absence, the music has held up surprisingly well.
The weekend wraps up with KENDRICK LAMAR. His live backing band brings serious muscle to his hip-hop soundtrack and his performance sends the 2014’s festival into the history books with serious aplomb. Put a pitchfork in it, it’s done.
-Photos by Curt Baran