Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 Coverage
Pitchfork Music Festival, held annually in Chicago’s Union Park, showcases a diverse range of popular and emerging indie artists. Gorgeous weather and a killer lineup made for a fun and comfortable festival experience this past weekend.
Check out some of our favorite acts below.
DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS:
THE HAXAN CLOAK:
The Haxan Cloak is the solo project of producer Bobby Krlic. His music has elements of noise and dark ambient music: thick, heavy bass and droning synths, all pervaded by a monolithic sense of dread. During his set Friday afternoon, Krlic’s music was augmented by a drummer, whose slow-burning thump during the first few minutes of the set gave way to darkly textured, desolate noise rock.
SHARON VAN ETTEN:
A singer songwriter from Brooklyn, Sharon Van Etten has risen to fame in the past years on the strength of her beautiful vocal harmonies and emotionally direct songwriting. Her new album Are We There was released in May earlier this year. On Friday she performed with a versatile and multi-instrumental backing band, who proved more than capable of bolstering Van Etten’s tuneful choruses with lush and anthemic instrumentation.
SUN KIL MOON:
Singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek’s recording project Sun Kil Moon specializes in intricate, stirring folk music. Kozelek’s acoustic guitar led the way as the band filled the backdrop with spare instrumentation. His gentle, lilting melodies floated over a blissful crowd as the sun began to set over the festival.
AVEY TARE’S SLASHER FLICKS:
Avey Tare, the de facto frontman of indie favorites Animal Collective, began Slasher Flicks as a side project earlier this year with Angel Deradoorian and Jeremy Hyman, ex-members of Dirty Projectors and Ponytail, respectively. Their debut album Enter the Slasher House was released in April. While their music certainly possesses a similar experimental sound as Avey Tare’s main project, with bizarre samples and off-kilter synthlines, Slasher Flicks uses a more straightforward approach to songwriting, with a more conventional three-piece band setup. A notable characteristic of their live show is the interplay of Avey Tare and Angel’s voices, with Angel’s soft, eccentric vocals serving as a welcome counterpart to Avey’s trademark larynx-shredding yelps. With Jeremy Hyman’s hyperactive, tribal drumming, Slasher Flicks put on an impressive show worthy of any of Avey Tare’s other popular projects.
Twenty years after the release of his breakout single “Loser”, Beck remains an inspired and versatile artist, one whose work incorporates multiple genres. For an artist with such a varied stylistic approach, his live show was remarkably cohesive. He played a crowd-pleasing mix of songs from his critically-acclaimed new album Morning Phase as well as some fan favorites, updated and expanded with a vital, stadium-rock sound. The overall vibe was laid-back and fun, with Beck joking around with bandmates on stage and showcasing some Michael Jackson-esque dance moves.
DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS:
Don’t be fooled by the unimaginative name, Twin Peaks is a promising up-and-coming power pop act made up of young Chicago natives. They opened the festival Saturday morning with an energy and intensity that belied their age. Their enthusiasm for catchy, breezy rock n’ roll was shared by an appreciative crowd.
Though their lineup has changed since they last played Pitchfork Music Festival two years ago (they’ve gone from a four-piece to a three-piece band), Cloud Nothings‘ adrenaline-fuelled pop punk is just as fast and thrilling as ever. Dylan Baldi’s ragged, atonal rhythm guitar and arresting vocals formed the centerpiece of the set, while drummer Jayson Gerycz utilized a minimal drum kit played with awe-inspiring ferocity and speed, carrying each song along at a breakneck pace.
Endlessly inventive and unfalteringly unique, Detroit MC Danny Brown‘s rap is in a class of its own. He took the stage Saturday afternoon to raucous applause, delivering songs from both last year’s Old and a number of tracks from his XXX mixtape, all with his trademark effortless flow and gap-toothed grin.
NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL:
Fuzzy indie folk band Neutral Milk Hotel returned last year for a reunion tour, to the delight of their intensely devoted fanbase. Their set Saturday night leaned heavily on songs from their now-legendary album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, and the Union Park grounds were filled with the voices of fans singing along, fans who have been moved and inspired time and time again by the oblique lyricism, stunning arrangements, and heartbreaking honesty of that record. Seeing such emotional connection on a large festival scale was truly something to behold, and singer Jeff Mangum held the audience’s breathless attention with an unassuming and humble stage presence for the entirety of an enchanting set.
DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS:
DIIV is a popular Brookyln-based shoegaze act fronted by singer Zachary Cole Smith. They drew an impressive crowd Sunday morning, especially for an opening act. They wasted little time on banter, however, instead launching immediately into a series of catchy, melodic dream pop tunes, and teasing a number of songs from an upcoming album.
While Earl Sweatshirt cancelled the remaining dates in his summer tour, the Odd Future member fortunately made an exception for Pitchfork. He took the stage Sunday afternoon, performing a number of cuts from last year’s Doris. All the while Earl joked around with the crowd of ecstatic fans, poking fun at those who watched with disinterest and urging the whole festival to “go full World Cup” for his performance, a request they were only too happy to oblige.
The sun bore down heavily on the crowd assembling just before terminally chill indie rockers Real Estate took the stage. The minute they began their set, however, the summer heat was soon forgotten in the wake of breezy, hazy neo-psychedelia.
Electronic producer Grimes brought her unique brand of dancefloor-ready synthpop to the stage Sunday afternoon with fantastic results, weaving darkly-textured synthlines with spacey and spooky voice samples into immensely catchy and appealing dance music. Her energetic performance of the steel drum-laden, Blood Diamonds-produced “Phone Sex” was especially impressive.
The festival’s other headliners, Neutral Milk Hotel and Beck, have both been around for more than twenty years. Kendrick Lamar‘s ability to draw the same enormous crowd as these revered older artists is a testament to his talent and popularity. Though it’s been nearly two years since the release of his breakout hit good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick performed the songs with the same sincerity and conviction that can be heard on that acclaimed record, and whipped the enormous crowd of faithful listeners into one final turn-up before the festival came to a close.