From the first chest-rattling and thumping beats to the constant wave of crowd-surfers floating above the heads of their fellow concertgoers, it was obvious during Pitchfork Festival Day 2 that live music is a life-altering drug.
And when Saturday’s festivities officially sold out, Union Park was packed with fans who chilled out on the lawn, danced blissfully into oblivion and experienced the raw emotional power of being swept up in the rock and fury of DJ Shadow, No Age, Woods, Crissy Murderbot and MC Zulu, Fleet Foxes, and the Radio Department.
Here’s how it all went down, as captured in photos and (a few) words:
What better than to start Saturday off with a fine mix of glitchy jungle beats via Crissy Murderbot and the righteous dancehall call-and-responses of MC Zulu. Oh, and those plastic lip-shaped whistles were a very nice touch too.
Josh Davis (aka DJ Shadow) says hello to fans and then sets up shop inside in a giant rotating ball that’s illuminated by two projectors on either side. Before he starts, Davis admits that it’s a bit too light out still to really see the stunning visual spectacle he’s created for us.
I instantly agree with him and begin wishing that I could pull down the setting sun faster so I can truly enjoy the cinematic visuals along with Shadow’s deft set, a mix of his classic albums and new tracks from the forthcoming The Less You Know, The Better. Knowing that he can’t overcome the sunlight, he eventually spins the ball around to continue playing so we can all watch him work his ground-breaking magic.
New York-based Woods starts out slow under the hot and heavy afternoon sun. Then they pick up speed taking us through a trippy adventure of experimental jams and other freaky, spooky and darker melodic joy-rides.
The Radio Department walks onto the Blue Stage flashing confident smiles and utters a brief “hello.” From there it’s all business and pleasure for the rock quartet as they roll through a snythy, slow-purring and glimmering set of melodic, mellow and chillaxed tunes. Just what we needed on day such as this.
No Age’s formula is simple and very effective. Play hard, fast and loud. That’s what the fans want and that’s what the art-punk Los Angeles duo deliver for 45 minutes. Crowd-surfing. Sweat dripping from all pores. Faces filled with ecstasy.
Coming back to Pitchfork for the second time, but now as the Saturday night headliner, Pacific Northwest indie-folkers Fleet Foxes glide into the moment cautiously, gradually feeling out their songs and the crowd vibe. It’s a solid set with harmonic flashes and flourishes. But eventually I wish that one of two things would’ve happened instead: 1) Fleet Foxes switch headlining spots with DJ Shadow so we can get the full effect his illuminated projection ball and close the night with a bit more party-friendly thumps and rumble. Or 2) have a DJ Shadow vs. Fleet Foxes live mashup between the two stages. Pitchfork is an experimental and cutting-edge festival when it comes to the music, and I think they could experiment more with the performance options to make something like this happen next year.
Next Up for Day Two: TV on the Radio, Odd Future, Toro Y Moi, and more. And who knows, maybe we will see some stage-to-stage mashups?
If you’re looking for a great mobile guide to the festival, be sure to download the Pitchfork iPhone app. It rocked and it’s one of the best festival apps I’ve ever used!
Were you at Pitchfork yesterday? What were your favorite performances?