Despite the ridiculous heat, Saturday was the day of the mosh pit at Union Park. I was taken aback by the sheer number of people willing to jump around and shove each other at several of the shows throughout the afternoon. White Lung, Pissed Jeans and Metz all managed to incite a miniature riot within the crowd, which is no small feat in the blazing midday sun.
The first show that I saw, White Lung, is a punk outfit that is pure energy. They took the half hour set at one in the afternoon and ran with it, playing fast, loud and really getting their relatively small crowd moving. Not even a broken string on Kenneth William’s guitar could slow them down. It was a fun show.
The next band I saw was Pissed Jeans, a group that I was unfamiliar with going into the show. I didn’t know what to expect from a group called Pissed Jeans and I’m still not really sure what happened, but it sure was a crazy show. Lead singer, Matt Korvette, was all over the place: jumping, screaming, and throwing the mike stand. A total of three different tank tops were ripped to shreds while the rest of the band nonchalantly rocked out behind their crazed singer. It was fun to watch and the band was clearly having a great time, leading to a great, energetic show.
Next was Parquet Courts, a band that I had never heard of, but immediately became my favorite low profile act of the entire festival. They have energy, style and their riffs are so catchy I’m still humming them three days later. They sure do love Pavement, but who doesn’t? Awesome show, awesome band. Listen to them.
Immediately afterwards was Merchandise, another group that I didn’t know much about going into the show. Their New-Wave/post-punk sound struck a nice chord with me, especially when they brought out a saxophone player, but overall the show lacked energy to keep me engaged. The last two songs did manage to completely turn this around, however, and they were easily the best songs of the set. Overall, it was a decent show that just took a little too long to get going.
After that I headed back to the main stages to see Swans in all their apocalyptic glory. This is a band of old dudes who like to turn the volume all the way up and let the noise and clatter wash over the crowd. Their riffs are heavy and their songs stretch to great lengths, but the best part of the show was when singer Michael Gira started screaming without a microphone over the ruckus of the rest of the band. And I could still hear him. The guy can really yell.
The last show of the night was Belle & Sebastian, which is a band that had a huge impact on me growing up. If You’re Feeling Sinister is one of the first albums I can remember really loving and so I went into the show with pretty high expectations, which the band matched and then some. Stuart Murdoch is simply one of the most charming frontmen I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Whether he’s letting some random guy in the audience apply mascara to him, inviting the crowd on stage to dance for “The Boy With The Arab Strap”, or sitting on the edge of the stage singing “Piazza, New York Catcher”, he exudes a pleasantness that manifests itself in both his music and personality. Not even the heavy rain could put a damper on the spirits of the crowd. Also, who knew “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying” would make such a fulfilling encore? The whole show was great and I couldn’t have been happier.