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Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Pitchfork Music Festival 2010 Day 2

LCD Soundsystem, Wolf Parade, Titus Andronicus and more at Pitchfork Music Festival 2010

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangEven though it barely counted as a half-slate of acts, day one of the Pitchfork Music Festival had left me feeling more worn than it should have. Chalk it up to not having done a proper outdoor festival in a few years, and having forgotten what it was to deal with the crowds and the heat. Oh, the heat.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it yet, but this past weekend in Chicago was hot. Damn hot. Maybe technical heat wave hot. And while it was enough to make most North Americans melt, one gets the sense that Barcelona’s Delorean felt right at home. Not only do they hail from warmer climes, but the electro-euro, get-naked party anthems from their debut Subiza are tailor-made to celebrate it. The quartet did their best to turn hipsterfest into Ibiza and while they succeeded in getting some of the crowd moving, most could only muster the energy to sway.

Photos: Delorean @ Aluminum Stage – July 17, 2010
MP3: Delorean – “Stay Close”
Video: Delorean – “Stay Close”

Over at the Balance Stage, set a little ways from the main stages and more importantly in a shady grove of trees, Kurt Vile was turning in a set of ’70s-ish art-punk/pop that wasn’t much to look at, with Vile generally keeping his face hidden under a heavy head of hair, but was great to listen to. I think I still have a copy of his 2009 release Childish Prodigy kicking around somewhere – I should get better acquainted with it. Vile comes to town for a show at the Great Hall tonight.

Photos: Kurt Vile @ Balance Stage – July 17, 2010
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Overnite Religion”
MP3: Kurt Vile – “Hunchback”
Video: Kurt Vile – “Freak Train”
MySpace: Kurt Vile

I’d mentioned that a lot of the acts at Pitchfork were performing in a setting far larger than they were accustomed to, and that it shouldn’t be a surprise if what works in a small club doesn’t translate onto an outdoor stage. Such was not the case for Titus Andronicus. Maybe more than any other band still living on the club circuit, the New Jersey punks not only rose to the occasion but used it as a launching pad for even greater things. Tearing through material from their excellent album The Monitor, they had the undivided attention of thousands who were more than up for screaming “you will always be a loser!” at the tops of their lungs. Though guest spots from tourmates Hallelujah The Hills on horns helped classy up the proceedings a bit, it was still all about the fury of Patrick Stickles’ grand and angry anthems. The first truly epic set of the weekend.

Photos: Titus Andronicus @ Connector Stage – July 17, 2010
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part One)
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part Two)
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”
Video: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
Video: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”
MySpace: Titus Andronicus

Back at the mainstage, the throngs gathered for a little Wu-Tang action courtesy of Raekwon. Now no one in their right mind expects a hip-hop show to start on time, even at a festival where things had been running pretty damned smoothly, but this time the delays weren’t the fault of the performer – the DJ’s laptop was apparently overheating on stage and generally freaking out over the PA. I’m telling you, people, it was hot. Eventually they sorted things out sufficiently that Raekwon was able to come out and do his thing, and while my hip-hop education has been ongoing, his stuff seemed to have a harder, leaner aesthetic to the beats and backing than the more throwback, old-school (read: ’80s-style) hip-hop that I’d been listening to. But that said, his set had an extremely positive energy, buoyed by a sea of Wu Tang hand salutes from the crowd, and peaked with a performance from a quartet of pint-sized (child, not midget) breakdancers showing off their moves.

Photos: Raekwon @ Aluminum Stage – July 17, 2010
Video: Raekwon – “New Wu”
Video: Raekwon – “House Of Flying Daggers”
Video: Raekwon – “Ice Cream”
Video: Raekwon – “Canal Street”

I’m not sure if Jon Spencer, Judah Bauer and Russell Simins were going by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or just Blues Explosion, but I suspect the former was more appropriate as they had taken the project out of mothballs to mark the reissues of the albums which came out under the JSBX name and not the ill-received Damage which was credited to just BX. Whichever it was, they clearly hadn’t let any rust settle because while Spencer wasn’t quite the unhinged blues prophet from their ’90s heyday, he still fit into his leather pants pretty well and those blues still exploded on cue, delivering big guitar jams and plenty of rock’n’roll swagger. Ever the showman. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion plays Lee’s Palace on July 31.

Photos: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion @ Connector Stage – July 17, 2010
Video: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “She Said”
Video: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Sweet N Sour”
Video: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Wail”
Video: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Dang”
Video: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Flavor”
Video: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Talk About The Blues”
MySpace: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Wolf Parade have always hung around at the periphery of stuff I like – I enjoy the live show but the albums never stay in rotation that long – but with their latest Expo 86, they may well have made an album that I can really get into though it may be for the reasons that some fans like it the least; to my ears, their many quirks and tics have been dialed down and they’ve just made a big rock record. And as such, they were more than suited to play the next-to-last mainstage set for the day, coming as close as the festival would to stadium-size rock anthems. Their live show still relied heavily on Dan Boeckner for stage presence, but it was good to see Spencer Krug not only moving his keyboards to centre stage – last time I saw them he was off to the side – but also contributing some serious hair whipping. JAM has an interview with Wolf Parade.

Photos: Wolf Parade @ Aluminum Stage – July 17, 2010
MP3: Wolf Parade – “Ghost Pressure”
MP3: Wolf Parade – “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)
MP3: Wolf Parade – “Language City”
MP3: Wolf Parade – “Call It A Ritual”
MP3: Wolf Parade – “My Father’s Son”
MP3: Wolf Parade – “Shine A Light”
Video: Wolf Parade – “Modern World”
Video: Wolf Parade – “Shine A Light”
Video: Wolf Parade – “I’ll Believe In Anything”

I have never counted myself as an Animal Collective fan, but was still curious to see what Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear, had up his sleeve for his Connector stage-closing set. As it turns out, he had pretty much nothing. Taking the concept of “solo act” very seriously, he was set up on a platform positioned well towards the back of the stage, standing with a guitar behind a bank of keyboards. And from this position, he played tuneless drones and random beats seemingly designed to test peoples patience. It was hard to tell if it was a deliberate anti-performance or if it simply hadn’t occurred to him that what he was doing was extraordinarily dull to watch, but from the faces in the crowd, the reaction seemed to be somewhat blissful but mostly bored and a few confused. If Panda Bear ever goes on tour, I’d like to suggest that he keep the same wheeled platform, but have it spew flames while being pushed around by armoured dwarves. Or something. Anything.

Photos: Panda Bear @ Connector Stage – July 17, 2010
Video: Panda Bear – “Take Pills”

The Toronto stop of LCD Soundsystem’s supposed farewell tour was an unqualified slice of amazing, but somehow I knew that this setting would potentially provide an even greater high, to say nothing of extra personal space for dancing. After all, the bigger the crowd, the bigger the party, right? In this case, absolutely right. James Murphy and crew seemed to be feeling extra loose and riding the vibe from the audience, as though their set list read much like that in Toronto, the rockers seemed wilder and the dance numbers groovier and Murphy’s between-song banter extra droll. It was 90 minutes of steady, throbbing good times with the highlight of many highlights being, unsurprisingly, “All My Friends”, which just sounds better and better the bigger and louder it’s played. I may have come late to the LCD party, but I’m not leaving till they kick me out.

Photos: LCD Soundsystem @ Aluminum Stage – July 17, 2010
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Someone Great”
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “North American Scum”
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Tribulations”
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Daft Punk Is Playing”
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Movement”
Video: LCD Soundsystem – “Losing My Edge”
MySpace: LCD Soundsystem

By : Frank Yang at 8:30 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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