Pitchfork: Friday in Review

  This year's Pitchfork Music Festival features a rich lineup of new up-and-comers, maturing indie rockers and songwriters, and a few reunions. Unlike many previous years, this weekend is off to a breezy and cool start. Writers Colin Smith and Julian Ramirez are scouting around Union Park to report on the festival's many performances: carseatheadrest2Car Seat Headrest: Will Toledo's year has been pretty interesting. His latest album, Teens of Denial, has catapulted him from his online cult following to a full fledged indie rockstar. Even with the miscommunication with clearing a sample of the The Cars' "Just What I Needed", Toledo has been able to ride his wider recognition to some great effect. Taking on the opening spot for this Pitchfork Festival seems pretty perfect for Toledo and his band as they delivered the right amount of quivering guitar and exuberant vocals to rile up the crowd and get them going for the rest of the day. The rain lightly and inoffensively drizzled throughout their set, which made Toledo's cries of "You have no right to be depressed!" in the throes of the song "Fill in the Blank" sound all the more needed. - Julian Ramirez Whitney: Talking about Whitney and summer festivals almost sounds redundant. Their debut album Light Upon the Lake swept iPhones, car trips, and record players to create the soundtrack of a summer we didn’t know we were having. And to boot, Whitney sounds as if Allen Toussaint and the Band played as George Harrison’s backing band. They kicked off their set with “Dave’s Song” and “No Matter Where We Go.” By the middle of their set, they covered Bob Dylan’s country tune “Tonight I'll Be Staying with You,” and then invited a string quartet to accompany their last few songs. It may have been a cloudy evening in Chicago, but Whitney made it feel like a sunny one. - Colin Smith twinpeaks2Twin Peaks: Our favorite Chicago garage-rock band matured with their third album, Down in Heaven, and they played with tight chops. They played from all their records, and they inflected a Lou Reed scowl on songs like “Wanted You” (not to mention guitarist Clay Frankel’s wide sunglasses made him look like he belonged in the Velvet Underground). Singer and guitarist Cadien Lake James whipped as if the spirit of rock ’n’ roll depended on it. They lifted their heavy garage songs, too, with the help of their friends on horns, including Whitney’s trumpeter Will Miller. Someone in the crowd waved a hand-made sign that read “The Whole World Can Fuck Off Because I'm Listening To Twin Peaks,” and, well, this fan has a point. - Colin Smith mickjenkins2Mick Jenkins: Someone was eventually going to show up late to a Pitchfork set. It happens every year and I've some to expect it. Mick Jenkins' 25 minute or so lateness isn't the longest I've waited, but its close. However, Jenkins immediately proved he was worth the wait as his intense stage presence had the crowd pumped up. He moved around the stage with deft quickness while still maintaining this imposing and invigorating power to him. It was the first overtly energetic set of the day for the blue stage that was urged on by Jenkins' call to "drink more water", a motto that relays truth and wisdom integral to his lyrics. - Julian Ramirez Carly Rae Jepsen:I think this was simultaneously the oddest and most obvious Pitchfork Fest act. Carly Rae Jepsen may have start as the typical mainstream icon with "Call Me Maybe", but she clearly transcended that label with Emotion, filling a pop music gap missing from many Pichfork devotees. Her performance was just pure nonstop dancing and fun, with that huge hit single coming in at the second to last spot of her set. Such an insanely diverse group of people raced over as the opening moments of the song blasted out, turning the Green Stage into a frenzy of excitement. - Julian Ramirez bss2Broken Social Scene: The large Canadian rock collective was proportionally loud to the number of musicians onstage. After a five year hiatus, they brought back a number of classic songs, including a seamless transition from “Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries” to “Shampoo Suicide.” While they didn’t bring back original members Leslie Feist or Emily Haines, Amy Millan from Stars filled joined to sing lead vocals on songs like “7/4 Shoreline” and “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl.” They reenergized the festival before Beach House lulled us into a hypnagogic dream state. - Colin Smith Shamir: I'm not sure why Shamir wasn't headlining one of the bigger stages after last year's wonderful set at the Blue Stage. He has so much charisma on stage that feel genuine and welcoming. It's difficult not find yourself grooving alone to his high pitched vocals that shimmy around his catchy songs. Between songs he was humble and downright lovable. Hopefully Pitchfork can see the light and give him a grander stage next year. - Julian Ramirez beachhouseBeach House: I have to be honest, I really like Beach House. Their songs are rock lullabies in the best way possible and while I greatly enjoyed their time on stage, they are not meant for festivals. Their set looked better on the screens than onstage, given the sedentary nature of their performances and the subtle aspects light show losing some of their oomph thanks to the more in-your-face flashing lights. Beach House are a chill out sort of band, one that you find yourself slowly swaying to their soundscapes rather than ecstatically jumping around to their music. That being said, if your a fan like myself, Beach House's set was worth a watch. "10 Mile Stereo" and  "Master of None" were standard highlights of the night, with Victoria Legrand's fragile and pained voice finding itself at it's strongest timbre. The biggest surprise was a cover of The Korgi's "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime", a song re-popularized by Beck for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It was a faithful cover that felt like an obvious extension of Beach House, sad and understanding lyrics underlined by dreamy instrumentals. - Julian Ramirez All photos by Julian Ramirez.
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Colin Smith

Colin Smith thinks that Chicago right now is the place to be for music. He works for Illinois Humanities, is a freelance writer, and plays psychedelic-pop songs with his band.