The rain from the night before had dispersed and left behind a sun-filled sky. A strong and diverse lineup with plenty of fresh acts dotted in among the festival vets made Saturday of Pitchfork look pretty nice.
We started our day with a set from this LA-based song-writer and multi-insturmentallist. Julia Holter makes art-pop. Her songs feel equal parts poetry and sound installation, but without any of the pretension or difficulty you might imagine accompanies something that someone on the internet labels art-pop.
Both albums she has released so far have been impressive in scope and sound, but her performance felt somewhat tumultuous: the band was full of excellent players and Holter is a powerhouse, but the open space and lackluster sound did not do the songs justice. “In the Green Wild” saw Holter's pitch-perfect singing match excellent use of her backing band.
Despite what I just wrote, keep an eye out for Holter, especially with a release coming out soon on Domino.
…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
The band known for their energetic live performances did not disappoint at Pitchfork. Conrad Keely, one of the core members of the group walked on stage, nodding, holding a beer, traded a bottle of whiskey around with his bandmates, then launched into a powerful set, touching on new and old material. The crowd was engaged in their performance from the first track and a most bit was easily born from their excitement.
The heat had reached its afternoon peak when Savages took the stage. Clad in all black (including heals for some members), each member wore an icy gage – they seemed somewhat disconnected with their surrounding but locked into their music. The energy of the band and the crowd fought against the overwhelming heat culminating for tracks like “I Am Here”. Jehnny Beth, lead vocalist, and the rest of the group did not make time to address the festival between tracks, instead taking a brief moment to catch air before diving back into their fiery performance.
Hemsworth is a young DJ based in Canada. His music tows the line between heavier dance-centric music you would expect to hear in dark club and sounds more light and fun, that plays off of hip-hop. The set was full of pop remixes and reimagined songs, which sprung back and forth between their originators' hooks and new, maddening layers of trap drums and glitchy stutters. His remix of the Dirty Projector's “About to Die” flew out of the speakers like sonic sunshine, raising hands and bringing smiles the dancing crowd. I had only heard the track in BBC Radio 1 mix, so having Hemsworth drop in this indie-remix was unexpected and wonderful.
This band makes music that sounds like a tidal wave in slow motion. Their songs constantly build, they sustain, but a final crash or a large culmination rarely happens. Songwriters who make their home on the mountainside of a moment of climax create songs that don't necessarily lend themselves to large environments – luckily this band knows how flourish their vocals, crunch the right notes on guitar, and when to swell their keys.
If you didn't have fun at the Solange show, you were trying to have a bad time. The 80s and 90s funk revival movement is not going anywhere- in fact, it might actually continue to evolve into something completely new and incredible as long as artists like Solange and Toro y Moi focus their attention on wonky synths with killer bass lines.
Solanges performance was fantastic – if anyone doubts her ability as a performer, her cover of the Dirty Projectors' “Stillness is the Move” proves she has the chops. Still, it would be great if her own songs contained such interesting vocal acrobatics and complex songwriting. Solange is an artist to watch out for, and definitely to see in a club if you have the chance.
The Scottish DJ's performance boomed and bounced from the first drop. Unfortunately, technical issues made this set the quietest I had heard at Pitchfork, maybe ever. It reminded me of the first few years of the festival, where it seemed too common to hear Microphone feedback or to watch a frustrated keyboard player jam along, their notes sinking, unheard through the mix. The sound quality issues had mostly vanished for the past few years, but I found the mix of Rustie's music to be pitiful.
Belle & Sebastian