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By the time AraabMuzik was driving the crowd wild Sunday evening, I knew it was too late for me to dance anymore that weekend. I looked on as countless kids danced their hearts out, eating my salad and wondering if I'd be able to stay awake for Beach House.
Though exhausted, I enjoyed the heck out of Sunday. Chicago locals A Lull opened the day in a booming fashion. The band's percussive and rocky sound seemed perfect for the still balmy afternoon.
Oneohtrix Point Never commanded the most motionless and quiet crowd of the festival. The auditory onslaught escaping Daniel Lopatin's laptop and sampler was captivating enough to make up for his own stillness. I got the feeling most of the crowd was simply waiting for King Krule, but at least a few OPN songs were applauded.
Beach House's dreamy soundscapes filled Union Park as if the band were destined for stadiums. The falling leaves and dragonflies that drifted over the crowd only heightened the bands magical hold on its audience. By then, it was up to Vampire Weekend to drive the night home.
The totally competent and unquestionably fun festival headliners delighted just about everyone within sight. It seemed like the crowd of now familiar strangers surrounding me were happy to call it a night, and Vampire Weekend was a fittingly easy sendoff for three days of comfy fun in the rain and sun.
Music festivals are frustrating. Drunk kids talk over your favorite songs. The sound quality doesn't always do justice to the performance. The crowds induce claustrophobia, if not misanthropy. People spill beer on you. A tiny cup of Heineken costs $5. Your favorite bands are scheduled at the same time.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor delivered me from all the frustrations of festival-going by making me forget I was even at a festival. The band opened with a lingering canopy of noise that most of the crowd took for a sound check. For the next 90 or so minutes, furious death rattles of guitar and violin were stretched until stray beautiful melodies emerged. The audience was silent, in reverence or in boredom, I don't know. The band at least had the devotees transfixed.
GY!BE is a strange headliner to be sure, but it proved a perfect counterpoint to the swampy mosh pits from earlier in the day.
Besides a haunting and rain soaked set from Atlas Sound, the Green Stage mostly thrived on huge bass and explosive energy. The Psychic Paramount kicked off the day with an instrumental torrent of rhythmic experimental rock. They revved up what relatively little crowd showed up for the first acts.
Flying Lotus played a perfectly paced set of warped dance music to a full crowd, and his closing remix of Waka Flocka Flame's "Hard In The Paint" transcended irony and passivity. Everyone had to dance.
Sleigh Bells similarly enraged the audience, but with stadium rock guitars and lots of direct addresses to "Chi-ca-go!" Lead singer Alexis Krauss milked the performance for all it was worth, crowd surfing and yell-singing with equal aplomb. The band induced a kid-friendly mosh pit, which created more smiles than bruises.
Pitchfork Music Festival opened and closed with wordless bands on Saturday. By the end of the night, I was speechless too.
The first flash of lightning was followed almost immediately by a roll of thunder. I was riding the Loop, afraid the first day of Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago would be ruined by rain. I was wrong.
It was a cloudy day, but the bands didn't seem to mind. Outer Minds and Lower Dens played very different brands of indie rock to kick off the festival's first day, and the former band added an appropriately festive touch by tossing candy into the crowd.
The day's standout was Willis Earl Beal, whose outsider act felt halfway between Grace Jones and John Maus. Beal poured his everything into the set, and the crowd played along. Anyone who accuses Pitchfork attendees of stiffness or pretentiousness should have seen the crowd stomping and clapping along to Beal's genre-busting slam performance.
When the rain finally fell, it was on Tim Hecker's ghostly noise. The
wind picked up as Hecker's walls of static rattled the crowd's bones. The rain came to a drizzle, and the bass came to a rumble.
A$AP Rocky seemed as new to the stage as he is to the spotlight. No matter how many times the crowd is forced to chant "A$AP," the young rapper still can't command an audience. Big K.R.I.T. reminded the festival what an engaging MC can do when the stage is set.
Feist certainly sounded the part of the night's headliner, but I couldn't help but notice how drowsy the crowd seemed by the end of her set. Purity Ring brought the bass and a hypnotizing stage setup, but the music itself wasn't as enchanting as the flashing lights.
I left tired and sunburned, more than ready for Saturday's offering. Sleigh Bells and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, anyone?