Pitchfork Music Festival | 07.14-15.07

tsadTwenty minutes before The Twilight Sad got the 2007 Pitchfork Music Festival rolling, two lines of 1,000-plus people flooded the gates.




Union Park, Chicago, Ill.

On the weekend of July 14-15, anyone in the Chicago area saw an unusual amount of indie kids hanging out in the city, and those riding the Pink and Green lines of the El truly felt their presence. Twenty minutes before The Twilight Sad got the 2007 Pitchfork Music Festival rolling, two lines of 1,000-plus people flooded the gates.

The bands in this year's Pitchfork lineup were lesser known than last year, but in my book, the festival was much more successful and fun.

The Twilight Sad

It was hard to tell how the crowd received this Scottish four-piece. Fans were still piling in and surveying Union Park, while others were giving their fresh energy to the only band playing. Their set was highlighted by the Fourteen Autumns standout, "Mapped by What Surrounded Them."


After the The Twilight Sad's set, many fans (I was one of them) secured a good spot at Voxtrot while Chicago's Califone opened up the Aluminum Stage. Ramesh rocked a black and white striped shirt, tight jeans and a Vanilla Ice haircut. Of all the performers, Voxtrot seemed to be the most genuinely happy to play. This was one of the most popular performances of the day and deserved a primetime slot.

The obvious favorite was "Start of Something." Songs from the self-titled album sounded a lot better live.

Beach House

The Beach House album took me four tries of listening to appreciate. Live, they put on a nice, soft set that I instantly liked. The Baltimore duo sat down for the entire set, and with the delicate, psychedelic sounds of organ, keyboard, guitar and echo-heavy vocals they did great.

The set opened with "Apple Orchard," possibly their best song, followed by "Tokyo Witch," They played other key tracks like "Saltwater," "Childhood," and "Lovelier Girl," then featured a nice little waltz, and finished with the highlight, "Master of None."

Fujiya and Miyagi

A big wave went to Battles, a band I never got into, so I stuck around to see Fujiya and Miyagi. I felt so-so about their album Transparent Things. I enjoyed "Collarbone" and "Photocopier," but found the rest a little better than filler.

Their set went really well; it was obvious that they are more of a live band than a studio band. The Brighton band is always subtly joking with their Japanese name, porno-sounding grooves accented with a whispering voice, and of course the "Collarbone" lyrics.

A good portion of Transparent Things went over big with the enormous crowd including "Ankle Injuries," "Collarbone," "Photocopier," "Conductor 71," and "Sucker Punch." Just as I was writing "repetitious, one trick pony" in my notebook, they struck gold with a strong finish and met their hype. Not a whole lot of dancing though.

Click here to watch a video of them at Pitchfork 

Professor Murder

Surprisingly, I was able to move to the front row after Fujiya, as many fans traded spaces to go see Iron and Wine.  This was the best Day One experience. Voxtrot was solid and Girl Talk was the best simply by pressing play on his laptop, but Professor Murder definitely exceeded my expectations.

Frontman Michael Bell-Smith looked deliriously happy at his drum station of a whistle, a cymbal, cowbells, and a snare, and the dancing fans couldn't have been more pleased either. Bedded between songs was DJ Sammy. Some of the highlights of their set included "Champion," "That's How They Getcha," and "Free Stress Test," their best live song, with Bell-Smith on keyboards (video of this performance)

There was a bit of a lull in the late afternoon. Oxford Collapse sounded pretty good and Mastodon played on the main stage, but I opted for a knockout basketball game, a little four square and loaded up on some free Fuze.

Clipse started up at 7 p.m. and fans went wild for them. Hearing rap was a nice twist.

The Virginia-based brothers weren't shy about tooting their own horn, proclaiming their Hell Hath No Fury as "the hardest record out" and "the number one (number seven by Pitchfork's estimate) album of last year." The group kept the energy up the whole hour.

The brothers got everyone to shout back lines like, "We Got It For Cheap." Each song ended with the sound of guns.  Being able to see Clipse's excellent set, which I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise, makes a good case for the benefit of festivals. 

Cat Power

Wedged in between Clipse and Girl Talk, Cat Power's set seemed a little out of place, although the album art to The Greatest would suggest differently. Chan Marshall had to overcome some sound issues in the beginning, but her voice was top notch.  Sadly I left early to get over to Girl Talk. She opened with The Greatest, and for the first five songs at least stuck to her mellower tunes

Girl Talk

Greg Gillis (of Girl Talk) started at 8:30, and his slot conflicted with some woman named Yoko Ono. Luckily I had a press pass and got up right up to the stage because fans went thousands deep outside the gate, and there were an estimated 200 non-festival goers lined outside the festival grounds. Gillis was in street clothes before putting on his suit, then getting shirtless by the end of the night. Gillis danced around, and fans were allowed to get on stage as well. Gillis still had a lot of work in layering his music and it was timed to perfection. Not much was exchanged verbally, just 50 minutes of non-stop mash-ups with newly acquired Lil' Mama, Avril Levigne, Jackson 5, Clipse (and a whole mix of bands from Pitchfork), Hurricane Chris, Teenage Wasteland, TI, and so much more new stuff that I didn't bother writing anything else.



Day Two

Sore feet and aching backs had healed, fans caught up on their sleep, hunger and thirst were quenched, and the rejuvenated crowd eagerly awaited Day Two's events. When the 11-hour day it ended, it was tough to say goodbye.

I missed Deerhunter's set, but actually I saw a lot of him during the concert. I watched the Stephen Malkmus set beside him, waited in the Chipotle line in the press area behind him, and danced near him at Girl Talk the night before. 

The Ponys (right) opened up the Aluminum Stage, something Ponys frontman Jered Grummere knows all about since he opened last year with the Hot Machines. Grummere wore a skeleton shirt that he's also sported on a recent tour with Deerhunter in support of the band's third album, Turn The Lights Out.the_ponys

This set started 17 minutes late due to sound issues, and during the show the sound went in and out. They were a bit rushed, so there wasn't much chatter in between songs.

Menomena (top)

This type of act does really well at festivals with instruments and sounds that seem built for the sunny outdoors, like Jens Lekman at last year's Pitchfork Fest.  Their set was a reminder/display of how good their album was and a showcase of a young band that has the potential to be great.

The last four songs of the set were my four favorites from Friend and Foe, and these intricate, multi-layered tunes came out even better live with the crowd-pleaser "Evil Bee" and its saxophone solo.  They reminded me of their fellow Portland bands, The Veils and Helvetia.

Junior Boys

Junior Boys was another pleasant surprise. I was expecting to kill time until Sea and Cake performed, but instead I was really impressed.  The band was a lot like Ratatat live, and although there was somewhat of a line-up void competing against Nomo, they seemed to have a loyal fan base.  I stayed for the four solid songs.

The Sea and Cake

Each song from this Chicago-based band blended together making for a nice mental nap. A few new songs were unveiled including "Cross Line," a good tune that is on par with their other songs.

Stephen Malkmus

This was probably the most anticipated show of day two.  I went backstage to the press area, hoping to request "Phantasies" and ended up watching the whole set near the soundman and beside Deerhunter in an area that was turning away VIP cardholders.

I did not get a chance to make any requests, though I doubt it would have had any affect.  Fans shouted song titles while he tuned his guitar, and he responded with, "Yeah, I'm not going to play any of those, but kept it up, I like it."  He explained that he was on the golf course plotting his set.

If Malkmus would have had drummer Janet Weiss and a few other Jicks and more of the true hits, fans would have easily declared this the best show.  The set he planned was 25 minutes short of his allotted time, but with an add-on of two more songs, he only somewhat shortchanged fans.

Of Montreal

This was the Man Man of last year and the Flaming Lips of Lollapalooza. Of Montreal's main focus was entertaining the crowd with props and costumes, and the music served as a soundtrack of Hissing Fauna highlights to their freak show including "Suffer For Fashion," "Bunny Ain't No Kind Of Rider," "Softcore," and "She's A Rejector."

I was sorry to leave the show, but the free Chipotle burritos were calling me. Backstage I saw the prepping and aftermath of crazy costume changes, football uniforms, giant claws, and giant balloons. This seems to the most talked about performance of Sunday.

New Pornographers

I can't figure out what The New Porno do that makes their shows so unusually good. The Twin Cinema selections were excellent, but the band didn't showcase the highlights from the forthcoming Challengers. Dan Bejar of Destroyer/New Pornographers didn't play Pitchfork this year, which may have scratched songs like "Myraid Harbour." Neko Case and AC Newman had some nice in-between-song chatter.  Neko said after "Use It," "You guys are making me happy." AC Newman admired the Pitchfork Festival approach, saying, "This is really awesome, you don't get fucked up the ass like you do (money-wise) at Coachella or Lolla, and I love the money festivals pay."

The Queen cover seemed completely spontaneous, and awesome.

De La Soul and The Klaxons closed this incredible weekend.

Please feel free to leave comments with your own best moments from the festival, as well as links to pictures and video.


Most Fun: Girl Talk

Best Performance: Professor Murder

Best Song: Voxtrot, "Start of Something"

Better Than I Thought: Fujiya and Miyagi

Biggest Disappointment: Stephen Malkmus

Crowd Favorite: Clipse

Most Entertaining: Of Montreal

Honorable Mentions: Beach House, Menomena, Junior Boys

Wish There Was More: Ponys, Voxtrot, Stephen Malkmus

Sorry I Missed: Yoko Ono, Iron & Wine, Dan Deacon, Cat Power, Cool Kids | Joseph O'Fallon

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