Contrary to the content of this column I am not a regular festival attendee. Any situation involving a handful of port-a-johns for tens of thousands of drunk, improbably high casual music fans leaves me wildly uncomfortable and often disappointed. And as a fan of most music dark and physical, it comes as a slight surprise that Pitchfork Festival, now in its sixth year, was one of the best fests I have ever had the pleasure of attending. In honor of the music site’s 17 years of existence, here are the 17 best things I experienced last weekend.
Ty Segall covering ACDC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
Other than the odd cover selection, Segall forced the entire crowd to repeatedly yell “oi, oi, oi” through the entirety of the classic, commanding the stage in such a way that felt veteran. Nowhere near one of my favorite acts playing the festival, his performance quickly became one of my favorites—I last saw Segall play at tiny DIY space Death By Audio in Brooklyn, and a few years later in front of tens of thousands, he still delivered.
Probably the only band to suffer major technical difficulties, Iceage managed to recover from a broken monitor—twice—with little political posturing other than a quick mention that “this show may end on a footnote.”
The set ended with “You’re Nothing,” a song the band has been touring with since their US inception last year (oddly enough, it does not appear on 2011’s massive “New Brigade”.) With the chorus, a repetitive chant of “You’re Nothing”, frontman Elias Rønnenfelt gestured to the crowd and the Pitchfork fest flag, belting his frustration.
Punching a guy in the head
…For continuously making fun of Elias’ accent. (You’re welcome, universe.)
Buying a Limbs Bin tape from Byron Coley
…at the Feeding Tube records stand at the record fair. This man is a legend.
Lady Gaga Appearing Side Stage During Kendrick Lamar
In the most shocking attendance of the festival, Lady Gaga stood side stage Kendrick Lamar, bopping her head with the best of them. Weird!
Hot Chip Covering Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”
Somewhere in the middle of Hot Chip’s set, Pitchfork seemed to transform into Electric Zoo. After covering Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”, I might actually listen to this band now.
Other than the fact that Wild Flag is compiled of some of my favorite musicians from some of my favorite bands of all time, the set on the second day of Pitchfork was nothing sort of life-altering. Operating on a newfound level of genuineness, easily outshining much of the festival, every chord, note, melody and holler came from a place of honest frustration and love. A man standing directly behind me stood futilely begging for an encore and then declared, “Why is no one clapping? These kids don’t love their music enough.” Not true—but easily a sentiment only expressed in this setting.
Spinning the Beggars Group wheel and winning a bike ride on the fabulously ghetto gold Ratatat bike with Megan from Purity Ring and having to decline because I don’t know how to ride a bike.
Someone teach me, please!
Godspeed! You Black Emperor
This band made the festival logical. Reoccurring black and white visuals moments after the sun had set, droning on with post-rock sensibility as the electro pop stylings of Grimes silenced in the background, everything about the set was monumental in the most traditional sense of the word.
Watching Big K.R.I.T. promote individualism in such a way as so to overpower the overcrowded, over-hyped and overly appreciated Japandroids set nearby.
The Guitarist From Sleigh Bells Wearing a VOID Shirt
The guitarist from Sleigh Bells, a band I have a burning distaste for, was wearing a VOID shirt. I suppose we’re more similar than I thought.
Liturgy Slaying in the Rain
Let it go down in history as the fest with some of the worst weather. Day One and Two of Pitchfork were marked with endless showers, which, for Liturgy, was perfect. Their easily accessible breed of black metal was intensified by the poor weather conditions.
A Guy Successfully Breaking Into the Festival
I watched him dance on the fence during Liturgy and then quickly manage to propel himself off the top of an adjacent, not so stable port-a-john. Genius.
Araabmuzik with Chief Keef and Lil Reese
Araabmuzik closing his set with a surprise appearance by top-40 teen rappers Chief Keef and Lil Reese in an earth shattering—or more appropriately, mobilizing—rendition of “I Don’t Like.”
Milk Music Declaring “Fuck Parents, Kill Yourselves”
The Psychic Paramount
The day before their Pitchfork Festival debut, the Psychic Paramount performed a somewhat poorly attended after party at a skinhead bar. Human Eye performed shortly after. Two parts noise and a whole lot of smoke.
Danny Brown Afterparty
I attended a Danny Brown after party on the upper floor of a tiered sports bar. In the basement, early ‘00s emo favorites mewithoutyou performed, largely unaware of the festival’s existence. The party was sponsored by Tumblr and there were more than a handful of Seapunks in attendance. That is all.