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Fork in the Road: The Ghosts of Pitchfork’s Past Part 1

Comments Off on Fork in the Road: The Ghosts of Pitchfork’s Past Part 1 14 July 2009

It’s Craig, back once again to share some insight into the Pitchfork Music Festival. One of the great joys of any festival is the fact that you will always have the memories of the fun that you had…unless of course you’d prefer to enjoy a cocktail of peace, love, booze, and illicit substances. I’ve been stone-cold sober for my previous Pitchfork Music Festival experiences, so I felt that it would be worth it to share some of my more joyful memories with you.

Pitchfork 2007

The weather was beautiful, the crowd was relaxed, and the music was phenomenal. However, a few of my friends were being a bit chatty during Brightback Morning Light’s set. These New Mexico natives produce what could be the most laid back music on the planet. I felt it appropriate to instruct my friends not to “harsh my mellow” while swaying along to the most chilled-out band in the world. They obliged and we blessed out together. It was….groovy.

On the other extreme, one of the most brutal, skull-crushing sonic experiences, Mastodon, was also on the bill. The band was still touring in support of their 2006 album, Blood Mountain, and was in top form. However, as an audience member witnessing a metal band in top form, expect your eardrums to get damaged, if not destroyed, and and anticipate guttural howls being not only frequent, but persistent! I was the only one in my group of friends who was loving the mayhem, but I have a soft spot for hardcore music. Wait, is that an oxymoron?

Back on the softer side of things, I was able to witness a set from Iron & Wine and Sam Beam’s Sweet Beard. It was majestic! I only wish I could grow a beard so full! Oh, and he did a Radiohead cover for the encore. That was cool too.

One of the artists I was most geeked to witness a performance from was Jamie Lidell. At the time, Lidell performed solo with a mountain of electronics and a gong. His vocals were smooth, soulful, and downright sublime. His electronics were buzzing, swirly, and glitchy. It was one of the most incredible things I have witnessed. All the while, Lidell was prancing and shimmying about the stage with what appeared to be aluminum foil hanging from his outfit.

To top it off, after the performance I was taking in a set by The Field, an electronic musician from Sweden. The Field’s set consisted of techno wizard Axel Willner sitting at a laptop and sipping beer. I looked behind me to see Jamie Lidell looking puzzled. I spoke with him for a minute and we joked about how bored The Field looked while performing. We also made a few cracks about the effort it took for him to press the spacebar between sipping from his red plastic cup. Mean spirited? Perhaps. After seeing Lidell give it his all for the better part of an hour, I felt it was justified.

This shaky video doesn’t do the performance justice. Ann Arbor’s afrobeat all-stars, Nomo, also took the stage at this particular festival. I have seen this band numerous times, but this was the only time I was able to see them while eating ice cream. I don’t know why, but it made the experience even more enjoyable. Now I crave ice cream every time I see a horn section or kalimba. mmmm….funky.

Pitchfork ’07 was also my second chance to see my favorite indie-rock freakshow, Of Montreal. They performed a set complete with multiple costume changes, three-headed dinosaurs, and interpretive dancers. It was androgenous, risqué, wild, weird, and downright bonkers. Imagine David Bowie, Alice Cooper, the Talking Heads, Funkadelic, and Ringling Brothers were commissioned to coordinate a live performance and that is pretty close to what this show was like.

Then sometimes, you just need to unwind. I nearly fell asleep as I was laying on a blanket in the grass in the evening, soaking in Cat Power’s sultry vocals. Normally, you would say something puts you to sleep if it’s dull, but she was downright sublime.

I was fortunate enough to see the Sea & Cake in Chicago. However, that statement is almost redundant. That band sounds like Chicago would sound if it were capable of recording an album.

Yoko Ono was there and I skipped her set. I did get a handy Yoko Ono light for my keychain, though. I didn’t skip her set for idealistic reasons or because I don’t like her music, I actually find some of it to be listenable. I left before her set to cruise Chicago for Ethiopean food, which was absolutely outstanding!

I’ll recap Pitchfork 2008 in the next post!

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