Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2009 Pitchfork Festival: Saturday

Saturday's lineup of the 2009 Pitchfork Festival was a bit weak when compared to Friday and Sunday. Nevertheless, we made an honest effort to arrive at Union Park somewhat early. Jim and I were staying at a friend's place in Edgewater and took the Damen Bus the entire way. Is it really necessary for the bus to stop at every half block? Why doesn't the CTA just have it stop at every single residence along the way and get it over with. We could have gotten there faster had we walked backwards.

No matter, we made it before 2:30, and that is when hardcore whatever band, Fucked Up, from Toronto was set to play. I wrote over a month ago (yet, just two posts ago) that Fucked Up's set was destined to be the highlight of the weekend, so I was filled with a decent amount of anticipation. They emerged, led by singer Damian Abraham who looks like the cross between a fat guy and another even fatter guy, and immediately launched into "Son the Father," which is most likely the best song from their 2008 album The Chemistry of Common Life. The crowd was pretty into it, and the band was doing their best to make sure the crowd stayed into it, but, unfortunately the sound was pretty weak. (This has been a slightly onerous reoccurring theme that pops up at every Pitchfork Festival.) I almost felt like it needed to be louder, especially Abraham's vocals. Other than that, things were fine, and like David Yow the night before, Abraham spent a decent amount of time in the crowd. He was even on top of the crowd at one point. Who said indie rock fans are weak? Abraham killed other time by chewing on beach balls and wearing one on his head. I thought he was pretty fantastic. He also awarded the crowd with a 9.9 Pitchfork rating and declared us better than the Animal Collective record (Merriweather Post Pavillion) which he claimed sounds like Phish. This killed me. I love Animal Collective, and I really like that album, but I also love a contrarian.

Fucked Up ended their hour long set with several members of the band leaping into the crowd. We are talking pretty good leaps, too. Instruments in hand, and everything. Other than "Son the Father," the other song I remember sticking out fairly well was "Twice Born." They were not the highlight of the festival, but despite the shaky sound, they fought through it all pretty well. Fucked Up, my compliments. (I just did a Google search and found that the last sentence has never been printed anywhere before on the Internet. I am pretty proud to be the first.)

Right after Fucked Up, Audrey sent me a text and asked if I had heard about Thax Douglas. Word was spreading that Thax had died. It wasn't true, Thax is alive and well. I think everyone had just mixed Thax up with Walter Cronkite. Honest mistake.

Somehow after Fucked Up, I was unaccounted for until the second half of Lindstrom's great set on the B stage. This is over a three hour window, and I have no idea what I was specifically doing during this time. I may have just been standing in line for the bathroom. For whatever reason, on Saturday, every bathroom line was out of control. It seemed as if the park was much more crowded than previous years, although I read that festival organizers stated that they sold the same amount of tickets as the previous year, and the bigger crowd may have been a result of the unseasonably cool and comfortable temperature. Meaning people were staying longer. That's plausible. And the lines for the bathrooms were rectified by Sunday as organizers scrambled to have more port-a-potties trucked in. And that is what makes this festival fantastic. The port-a-potties. No, but honestly, organizers do as much as they can to make sure everyone has a comfortable experience. It is crowded, but never scary. The lines for food, beer, and bathrooms can be long, but are rarely offensive. And the food is unbelievable. I never thought I would be able to eat so well at a festival. Fruits, vegetables, pizza, whatever you want, they have it.

However, I think the main reason I don't remember seeing much music during this time was because I was catching up with friends that I had not seen in some time. And that might be my favorite part of this weekend. We were all somewhat near the stage where the Pains of Being Pure at Heart were playing, and they are a good band, but I was more interested in talking with my friends. Every year it's a reunion of sorts. They could put the worst possible lineup in front of us and we would probably buy a ticket and head out there. Hmmm, on second thought, perhaps we are morons.

As mentioned, Lindstrom was pretty exciting, but we were mostly lingering near the stage for Matt and Kim who were set to play shortly. I have always really liked Matt and Kim, especially live. They both need ritalin, and they played a lot from their latest album Grand, which is a step up musically and production-wise from their previous effort. But they still managed to squeeze in crowd favorites like "Yea Yeah," "5k," and "Silver Tiles." I originally regretted that I missed Beirut, but, in turn, that would have meant missing Kim trying to dance Beyonce-style, and Matt rocking out not only the beginning to "Sweet Child O' Mine" but also the intro to "The Final Countdown." Clearly, I made the right call.

Saturday was nearly over save for the headliner, the National. I really like the National, they are a very good band, but they are not a headliner. We left halfway through their set, hit an outside patio in Wicker Park, and had some beers. We talked about whatever, and I began to think about the Flaming Lips.

(Sunday rundown coming tomorrow...hopefully.)



Peter said...

I remember the first time I saw Thax at Schubas. It wasn't until the "CRONKITE! CRONKITE!" cheers had subsided and he shimmied past me on his way out that I realized who he actually was.

Mike said...

I wish I would have seen Matt & Kim instead of Beirut, but I was with some folks who wanted to be close to the National, and it turned out to be a great decision thanks to a great National performance. I agree with your headliner comment, not because the National didn't put on a great show, but because their stage presence is not expansive enough to cover 20,000 fans.

Fucked up were great.

The whole Thax hoax that weekend sucked. I felt bad when I heard that he was dead. I'm glad he's still with us.

Mike said...

Ugh. I used the word "great" three times in my comments. It's a fortunate thing I'm not the one writing a music blog!

Mike said...

Four times. Even worse. I can't count.

samantha said...

I agree with your headliner comment...

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