Pitchfork day 1 review & pics: Bjork, Joanna Newsom, Wire, Mikal Cronin, Mac Demarco, Frankie Rose, Trash Talk & more)
photos by James Richards IV; words by Zach Pollack & Milos Markicevic
Bjork / Trash Talk / Mac Demarco / Frankie Rose @ Pitchfork Fest 7/19/13
The Pitchfork Music Festival is back for its 2013 edition in Union Park, which kicked off on Friday afternoon (7/19). Day one of the festival is always the most relaxed, with a late-afternoon start and a schedule of 10-acts versus the normal 18-sets on days two and three.
I began the afternoon by catching Brooklyn's Frankie Rose (newly blonde) over at the shaded Blue Stage. Attendees were still filtering in through the front gates by the time Frankie and co. took the stage, but they did have quite a bit of a crowd going. Their set featured a mix of tunes from 2012's expansive Interstellar, as well as some brand-new numbers. Rose prefaced one of those new songs by sharing that it would be coming out as a single for her third album, Herin Wild, later this summer. The group's dreamy pop output made for a nice and laid-back start to the day. -ZP
Daughn Gibson was the first act to grace the festival's Red Stage yesterday afternoon, accompanied by a couple of live members. Crowds were initially slow to gather, but a good number of people made their way over by his second or third song. Gibson's voice, a country-tinged cross between Nick Cave and Chris Issak, came through the speakers loudly and clearly. While dancing with his mic stand, Gibson radiated a kind of rockabilly swagger found amongst forefathers Elvis and Johnny Cash. The crowd attentively watched the band perform but didn't move much, mostly due to the scorching afternoon heat. The heat thankfully didn't slow them down much though, but it did cause Gibson to pause between songs to share, "It's hotter than a two-peckered goat today." The set's highlights included "Mad Ocean" off of the recently released Me Moan and a final track that incorporated some creepy sounding samples of a man talking about a sickly child and his fanatical devotion to Jesus. Gibson's use of samples is creative and definitely sets him apart from other country/rockabilly-influenced musicians. -MM
I spent as much time as possible over at the Blue Stage, hoping to hide away from the blazing sun. It was there that I later caught Chicago's Angel Olsen and her backing band. Olsen is currently prepping her new album for release via Jagjaguwar later this year, and graced us with a couple of new tunes. Her rather classic warble isn't something you hear too often these days, and the large crowd clearly enjoy it. Though she's been performing with a band for a while now, yesterday evening was the first time I had seen her perform with that setup. A full band most definitely lends itself well to her sound. -ZP
After grabbing some food and checking out the CHIRP Record Fair, I headed back to the Blue Stage to catch Mikal Cronin. Mikal's excellent new LP, MCII, is the perfect summer album, and he drew a very large crowd for his set. I can't say whether it's all the time he's spent as a member of Ty Segall's band or natural ability, but the San Franciscan seems comfortable and like he really enjoys himself on stage. Mikal began his set with "Is It Alright" from his self-titled album, followed by a couple of other tunes from the release. He of course broke out "Shout It Out" and the raucous "Change" from MCII, and the crowd went nuts. I then left a bit early to catch some of Wire over at the Green Stage, who had started their set just a few minutes after Mikal's. -ZP
Art punk legends Wire played at 6:25PM to a sprawled out throng of fans at the Green Stage. The band, dressed in all black despite the heat, performed like a well oiled machine, spitting out song after song without much pause. Much of their set consisted of material from the band's most recent album, which might have disappointed some folks who are bigger fans of the their earlier output. Either way, the set was solid, no-nonsense punk. Age hasn't slowed these gentlemen down at all. -MM
After Wire, we made our way over to the nearby Red Stage to find a good spot for Joanna Newsom. The songstress began her set with "Bridges and Balloons" from her debut album The Milk-Eyed Mender. Once the tune was over, Newsom then said, "I wasn't quite sure what to play tonight because I've got a lot of new songs! We'll mix it up a bit." The great "In California" from Have One on Me came next, followed by a jumpy new song. She then switched over to piano for yet another new tune, which has become known as "Look And Despair." Newsom's new ones are as intricate and fully formed as her past material, and we're looking forward to her inevitable-but-unannounced new record. It was a blissful and rather entrancing set. -ZP
The last show of the night, and probably the most anticipated, came from Bjork. She appeared on the stage wearing her famous spiky headpiece, and was backed by an all-female choir that added a whole different aural layer to her already amazing music. Wearing a shiny silver dress (while choir wore mostly blue) Bjork sang and moved across the stage with a great deal of passion and energy. Behind her, three screens displayed imagery that included an exploding star, the moon, ZX Spectrum-looking polygons, and even a sped up clip of a seal carcass being consumed by starfish and sea slugs underwater (read: slightly unsettling). The latter stood out, for obvious reasons, and close-ups of the starfish seemed to show a synchronized pulse with the music. Another highlight was the giant tesla coil enclosure that descended from the stage rathers during "Thunderbolt," creating huge sparks each time the synthesizer was played. After each song Bjork politely said "Thank you!" in her strong Icelandic accent which had everyone smiling and laughing. In the distance, a storm was approaching but appeared to be another special effect being incorporated in an already elaborate performance. Unfortunately, it was real, and reached the festival before Bjork could fully complete her set. Despite being cut short, what was performed was stunning and visually striking, and left a lasting impression. -MM
Today's line-up (7/20) features Belle & Sebastian, The Breeders, Swans, Savages and lotes more. For a different set of pictures from day 1, head to BrooklynVegan and more pics are below.
Flatstock Chirp Record Fair