Pitchfork’s second day easily outdid expectations, at least for me.  On the penultimate of 3 perfect sunny day’s on Chicago’s near West side, outstanding performances by St. Vincent, Cloud Nothings and the ever-rare Jeff Mangum sighting made for a fantastic day of music.  WPGU was lucky enough to be in Union Park on Saturday, and staff writers Eric Holmes and Boswell Hutson share their thoughts below:

Cloud Nothings

The fuzz-pop trio write fast, high-energy songs filled with snappy hooks, catchy melodies and sing-a-long choruses. Given that, it’s easy to imagine what a Cloud Nothings concert might be like. If you imagined a loud and fast set with the fuzz and drums turned all the way up, you have a pretty good idea of what was going on at the Cloud Nothings show on Saturday. The audience was going wild with moshing and crowd surfing and having a great time. It would have been nice to see some more enthusiasm from the band, but the crowd had more than enough energy to go around.

(Written by Eric Holmes)

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The Range

James Hinton’s, a.k.a. The Range, 2013 debut Nonfiction was a standout among the handful of electronic albums that I caught last year. It’s a fun album filled with industrial beats, hypnotic repetition and spoken word vocal samples. The show was a fairly standard electronic show, with Hinton mixing the layered tracks live on-stage. Though it was interesting to listen to, there wasn’t much happening visually which kept the show from being as entertaining as it could have been. Still, it was an impressive and entertaining show for being so early in The Range’s career.

(Written by Eric Holmes)

Danny Brown

If I had to think of one place for Danny Brown’s performance to flourish, it would be Pitchfork Music Festival.  While the hip-hop-head community embraces the inherent hilarious weirdness of the semi-toothless Detroit emcee, his explosion of popularity in the independent music community is nothing short of amazing.  Inevitably, his laugh was ever-present and he stuck his tongue out while head banging on multiple occasions.  Playing a set heavily dedicated to his latest release, Old, Danny and his fellow Bruiser members provided a set full of things you can’t tell your mom about.  In all seriousness, however, this set was perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise of Pitchfork, and showed just how broad and diverse Danny Brown’s fan-base is.

(Written by Boswell Hutson)

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St. Vincent

Easily the most fascinating show of my Pitchfork experience came from the immensely enigmatic St. Vincent.  If her bizarre Saturday Night Live performance was any indication, St. Vincent’s live show was sure to be quirky, but to fairly ignorant observers such as myself, it was certainly the most entertaining.  As I was standing in the crowd, I heard someone talking before the show and equating the Oklahoma-born musician to a mixture of Madonna and Jimi Hendrix.  While I was naturally skeptical, her performance proved this person’s comments to be (at least partially) correct.  Not only did she include the exact same choreography for “Birth in Reverse” and “Digital Witness” as she performed on SNL, but her guitar skills greatly exceeded what I expected from listening to her latest, self-titled album.  Dramatic solo after dramatic solo, St. Vincent kept the crowd eagerly anticipating what was to come until the hour-long set’s conclusion, which highlighted her ability not only as a musical talent, but also as an entertainer as a whole.

(Written by Boswell Hutson)

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Neutral Milk Hotel

I was a bit skeptical when I first found out that Neutral Milk Hotel would be a headliner this year. The critically lauded fuzz-folk outfit has a fairly massive and devoted following, yes, but their sound has always struck me as one that would benefit from a more intimate setting. Though there were some minor sound issues involving the stranger instruments used by the band, I think that the big stage was a relatively fine fit for them, thanks mostly to the huge crowd that was keen on singing along to the classics. Thanks to frontman Jeff Mangum’s fear of cameras, the large viewing screens were turned off for the show, which left the concert to lean entirely on the music. Luckily, Neutral Milk Hotel has some of the best songs around, and the connection between the performers and the audience was apparent. The show was a great time, but I would recommend seeing them in a smaller venue if given the chance.

(Written by Eric Holmes)

 

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