Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bad Idea Show Review: 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park

Another hip weekend of music in the books! It took me a couple days to de-hip myself, but I'm back to reality. This year's Pitchfork Music Festival definitely lived up to last year's.

I had ambitious goals regarding the mockery of the hipsters this year. But too quickly did I choose a hipster accessory to photograph. Early on, it became clear that the plaid/western-style shirt was dominating the wardrobe of the days. But in full, disclosure, I have to admit that I planned on wearing one as well, and by Saturday evening, we had to redefine what qualified as a hipster accessory. Here's what we came up with:

- it must be out-of-date
- it must be counterproductive to the clothing/accessory's actual purpose
- it can reference a middle school obsession/fashion/size
- it must take wok to put on/wear

A plaid shirt doesn't really fit any of those. In fact, a plaid shirt apparently is just a plaid shirt. It'd be like picking jeans, or t-shirts. So on the final day of the festival, I tried to switch gears, searching for some things that do fit our definition:

- girls wearing feathers in their hair
- guys wearing early 90's basketball jerseys
- Ray Ban sunglass frames with clear lenses

But enough about that. Let's get to the music. I've embedded video from the festival in each band name (I even took the Flaming Lips video! Aren't you proud of me?!):


Traffic made us miss out on Yo La Tengo, but we got there in time to get in position for Built to Spill while the Jesus Lizard did their thing. I couldn't quite figure out what their thing was exactly.

Built to Spill - I missed out on seeing them in Indy a few years back when a show of theirs got canceled, so I was happy to check this band off my list of haven't seens (come to think of it, I hadn't seen any of this year's bands before. Yeah for me!). Built to Spill was cool. They were a bit more jam-bandy than I anticipated (lots of 3-minute songs played in 8 minutes), but it was extended power chords instead of extended guitar solo noodling, so I was down with it.


Our first full day of music. We also did a bit of walking around the vendors, where we saw a bunch of people trying to break world records. The URDB has been moonlighting on Jimmy Fallon lately...

At the festival, people were trying to kiss as many people as possible in 10 seconds, recite Ferris Beuller's Day Off quotes, and other crap like that. Whatev. Back to the music...

Cymbals Eat Guitars - I liked 'em. At times, the lead singer got a bit too screamy for me, but that'll happen when your band is led by Peter Brady.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - They said that backstage, the National told them they should sound more like Weezer. The crowd sort of laugh-booed at that. I sort of agreed. But these guys were truly excited to be there. The drummer was taking pictures of the crowd, and it reminded me that for some of these bands, this was the biggest crowd they've ever played for. This is a band that seemed to really appreciate the opportunity. They took advantage. They were loud. They rocked.

Matt and Kim - It was either them or Beirut, and I've been all about the guy/girl duo groups, so I was eager to see them. They didn't disappoint me, and I may have fallen in like with Kim. Adorable much? Anyway, this was another band that was clearly having fun and excited to be in Chicago. High energy, fast pace, Chicago shout-outs. Their set got a bit repetitive even for me, but when they pulled out "The Final Countdown" before ending their show with their hit "Daylight," It was pretty sweet.

The Black Lips - We watched the first half of their set. They smashed a guitar after the 1st song. That sounds about right. After 6 songs of dirty-surf-a-billy (did I just coin a new musical genre?!), we'd had plenty of drugged out rocking, and moved on.

The National - We saw the 2nd half of their set, and they clearly knew how to put on a good show. I wondered if the brooding mood of the music would work, but the two lesbians who seemed to fall in love during the last 3 songs of their set were quite touched by the music. Adorable much? but yeah, I think I made a mistake by not seeing their whole set.


Sunday seemed to be loaded with great acts. Loaded, I say!

Frightened Rabbit - This was my 2nd favorite act of the weekend. They're Scottish, and they play their music ridiculously loud. And the drummer looks like Animal from the Muppets, only angrier. I thought they sounded a bit like the Frames, only with more kick to them (and less sappy modern musical). I heard a lot of people site this band as a highlight. I concur.

The Thermals - I had only heard one song by them, but LOVED it, so I was pumped for them. They're a three-piece, and seemed to try to create a time machine back to 1994 with their choice of bands to cover (Sonic Youth, Breeders, Nirvana, Green Day). Thanks to them, I don't have to see Green Day in order to see "Basketcase" performed live! Thanks, Thermals!

Grizzly Bear - I felt sorry for them, because during their set, the Flaming Lips were setting up, and everytime Wayne Coyne came out onstage, the crowd cheered like crazy. Occasionally Grizzly Bear grabbed everyone's attention, but for the most part, their ethereal rock sort of killed time until the madness that would be the Flaming Lips.

The Flaming Lips - I'd never seen them, and had heard that their either wackycrazyawesome or spend so much time being wackycrazyawesome that they don't get around to playing a good rock show. Well, on this night, they were WACKYCRAZYAWESOME!!! Wayne spent a bit too much time explaining that they always play what the fans want, and would prove it by noting what number each song fell on the request list. Yeah! They played #25! Still, they came out to a crapload of confetti, and had girls dressed as kitties and frogs dancing on stage. There was a whole construction site motif (as I'm sure you guessed by the kitties and frogs) so their roadies were in orange construction gear and the whole set was orange as well. Wayne had a camera on his mic (I'm assuming this is a common practice of his) and each song had an accompanying video. They even had MTV-era Jon Stewart and 90210-era Tiffany Amber Theissen introduce them. But back to the show. It was a great way to end the weekend. Wayne was constantly pausing to bask in the glory, and yes, there were giant balloons. But they also played musical instruments. I liked that part too!

Best Performance: The Flaming Lips
Best New (to me) Band: Frightened Rabbit
Band I Regret Not Seeing: Japandroids
Band That I Assume Molly Ringwold Loved: M83

There you have it, another successful Pitchfork. Were you there? What'd you love/hate? How many feathers did you wear?

1 comment:

lynné said...

I thought Frightened Rabbit were off their game. Still good, but I've seen them better. They were even off last night.

Scott's vocals were rough. Don't know if that's from excessive touring, drinking or recent recording. But I'm glad you dug 'em