Three days in Union Park, a few dozen warm Heinekens and Newcastles, and great memories made along the way are what you get with the annual Pitchfork Music Festival. Here are my thoughts on the festival itself. Be sure to check out Brett’s thoughts on the aftershows we attended for a complete run down on a weekend full of in indie rock.
The day begins with fighting Chicago traffic, a torrential downpour, and a lengthy cab ride to Union Park. Walking in, the first band of the festival is Lower Dens on the Red Stage. The Baltimore based band have a highly thought of LP in 2012 called Nootropics and they had a decently sized crowd for the 3:30 time slot. Despite being delayed due to the rain, it felt like they were given ample time to impress. Very mellow alt-rock, but not a bad way to ease into the day.
Next up was a few songs from hometown favorite Willis Earl Beal. An interesting performance to say the least. Whiskey induced soul music with minimalistic background behind Beal’s voice, more comical was the observation from Brett that he looks like a cross between mid 90’s Wesley Snipes and Deion Sanders. Up after on the Blue Stage was minimalist Tim Hecker. I’m not quite sure I can completely get into his music and performance style. A little too “filler noise” for my liking.
We have arrived at our first highly anticipated show of the weekend: Japandroids on the Blue Stage following a healthy rain. Wayyy too large of a crowd for the band on the tiny blue stage, but this is probably welcome news to the Vancouver duo. They really don’t mess around on stage. The play loud, fast, and with genuine emotion in their songs. The p4k tweens were certainly awaiting, as this was easily the youngest crowd of any weekend show.
Pretty light crowd on Friday in general. I’d estimate the place was only 70% full.
The best thing about this festival? So. Many. Bands. Immediately after Japandroids I take a quick walk across the field to settle into Dirty Projectors on the Red Stage. Simply put, I left this set absolutely amazed and dumb founded with their talent. With the rain cleared out and evening upon us, a ska-like live vibe from Dave and Amber was met with a marijuana haze of dancing twenty somethings. That and Amber’s voice is absolutely incredible. Featuring a heavy dose of all the hits from Bitte Orca as well as Swing Lo Magellan, this is a talented band that knows their craft.
The final band of the day at the festival was a dance party with Purity Ring on the Blue Stage. Despite the volume feeling low, the group delivered a solid set off their debut LP. Not much in terms of adlibbing or extended far from the each song’s core, it was a fun, lively set to close the day with. “Fineshrine” was certainly the highlight. I managed to catch the end of Feist on my way out. She certainly has become a star judging by the production of her live set. A full band and soulful chicks from Mountain Man singing back-up really bring out how amazing Laura’s voice truly is.
I am hungover. I always get too excited on the first day. It’s my calling card, what can I say? Cloud Nothings began the day on the Red Stage. After seeing Dylan Baldi and Co at the MOTR Pub a few months back, I knew what to expect and they delivered once again. Best memory: the band willing on a downpour with a ten plus minute version of “Wasted Days” that seemed to get louder as the rains fell harder. I’m soaked from head to toe, but it doesn’t matter.
Bradford Cox, donning a white painted face, a guitar, and a harmonica, plays an odd set on the Green Stage after a break from the rain. A little too experimental for my liking here. Just bizarre really. I need another Newcastle.
Props to the metal head and his girlfriend at Liturgy for sharing their trash bag with us during another downpour. Karma repaid.
Cults are awfully impressive. I expected Madeline’s voice to be a little weaker, but she can wail. Thankfully, the sunny Cults vibe brought the sun back to Chicago and returned the fun to the day. “You Know What I Mean” stands out the most along with “Go Outside”. Once again, heavy haze of fun and dancing in the crowd at the Red Stage.
Only was able to catch the last bit of Youth Lagoon. From what I saw, Trevor Powers turned his album into a completely legitimate live performance. While The Year of Hibernation brings a definite bedroom pop feel, in person was full of energy and loud beats. Also caught a bit of Portland girl rockers Wild Flag whom I don’t recall anything memorable from.
Crowd is much more packed today. Tons of people after the rains end.
I don’t get the appeal of Sleigh Bells. Do you really listen to that sitting around by yourself? If you do, please feel free to explain it to me.
Third row for Hot Chip. Life Moment. Ridiculously talented band. Dance party with thousands of my newest friends. Articulating my thoughts of this is difficult. This was a sensual and mental experience for me. I completely left this world of ours for an hour and just lived in the moment with the music.
On to Father John Misty…
I am hungover. Again. Father John, you are one interesting person.
Dirty Beaches plays an experimental set to open the day. I wasn’t really into it. A little too out there and rag tag for me.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra just kick so much ass. This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve had the chance to catch these guys in the past year, and every time I enjoy it more. The guitar has a quality live that isn’t heard much in other current acts. Their next album to one to watch.
Too much. I watch bits and pieces of San Francisco psych rock acts Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall but I am struggling in the heat, and its really effing hot, with the weight of the two previous days. But there’s a long afternoon ahead, so some time on the ground in the shade is needed to rejuvenate.
Real Estate. The first time I saw you, I made mistakes. I had too much fun. I’m sorry. Thank you for the second chance. Is there a better, more relaxing music than Real Estate’s Days? There is a just a certain wavelength this band plays to that strikes me at the soul. And by the looks of the crowd, I’m not the only one to think this. Lots of the stoner/working professional late twenties around grooving.
Managed to catch the first few songs of King Krule. Super young. Looked a bit overwhelmed in the moment on the first song but got it together on the second.
Didn’t catch any hip hop sets this weekend but the crowds looked young and wild.
Beach House. Incredible. And another hazy show on the red stage…we seem to have reached a running theme of this stage from the weekend. Lots of people, very chill, and extremely great. Another moment of the experience for me.
Team Vampy Weeks. You are the mainstream face of Indie. You play catchy tunes. I can respect that.
Some people spend their vacations going to the beach. Others go hang out in a park in Chicago for a few days listening to music. Whatever you do to check out for a bit, I hope you get what you need. What did I get this weekend? Cankles, hangovers, dance parties, and great memories. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Written by Greg Dahman
Wednesday night, a new band played their first performance in Indianapolis. If I say it three times, will that make it true?
Tedeschi Trucks Band played Murat Theatre at Old National Centre for their debut Indianapolis performance. However, even the most casual modern blues fan should be familiar with the cast of characters. Critics and fans have hailed guitarist Derek Trucks, only 32, as one of the genre’s shining stars since he rose to prominence as a teenager, gigging with his uncle Butch in the Allman Brothers Band. Lead singer Susan Tedeschi is a multiple GRAMMY winner with a dedicated following of her own.
In 2010, the husband and wife duo decided to merge their respective bands to form what is now TTB. The band released their debut album Revelator, last year and swiftly won a GRAMMY for Best Blues Album. TTB is a family affair. Beyond Trucks and Tedeschi, the band also features brothers Oteil and Kofi Burbridge on bass and keyboards/flute respectively. Wednesday’s performance left attendees with much to gush about:
TTB functioned as much like a jazz ensemble as a guitar-driven blues band. The 11-piece band filled out the Murat Theatre stage with dueling drummers, horn section and backup vocalists. Each member enjoyed their time in the spotlight. Mike Mattison, former frontman of the Derek Trucks Band, offered memorable lead moments on “I Know” and “Get What You Deserve”. Kofi Burbridge left traded his post at the keys to duel with Trucks on the first few bars of DTB track “Mahjoun” before stepping back to allow the drummers to have their turn. It’s rare to see such talented musicians so willing to share in the glory.
As is the case with any traditional blues performance, TTB’s was as much about the past as the present. Though the originals provided plenty of reason for applause, so too did their cover songs. Susan Tedeschi underscored her strength as a lead singer on her hair-raising rendition of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “That Did It.” The song was a far cry from the restrained version that Bland laid down so many years ago. Derek and the boys played one of the most original takes of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” that I can recall, offering a bouncy, Spanish-tinged rendition that was worlds removed from the track that Robert Johnson made famous. TTB also made Harry Nilsson’s classic “Everybody’s Talkin’” their own, with Trucks content to riff chords beneath Tedeschi’s powerful pipes.
I’ve spent the better part of the last year doing my damnedest to uncover up-and-coming or unheard artists for the readers of this blog. The process of discovering new music is thrilling, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. After a while, it becomes easy to forget what a seasoned, road-tested group of pros sounds like. Wednesday night showcased a band that rarely misses a beat. They know which buttons to push and when to drive the audience into a frenzy. Trucks did nothing to disprove my belief that he deserves discussion as one of the planet’s premier guitarists, and the musicians standing behind him were deserving of the honor.
As much as I enjoyed Wednesday night’s show, even the sweetest moments were paired with a hefty dose of bitterness. It was impossible for me to look up at the Murat Theatre stage without the reminder that this band replaced one of my favorites. Some of the best moments of my college career were spent getting my face melted by Derek Trucks Band. I was in the audience at Chicago’s Park West when they recorded what would be their final live album Roadsongs.
I love Harry Nilsson, but I miss those moments of Derek diving headlong into traditional Indian ragas like “Sahib Teri Bandi” and “Maki Madni.” The simple fact remains that Derek Trucks Band would not have been playing at Murat Theatre on Wednesday. They struggled to fill The Vogue the last time they were in town. Trucks appears content in his current role, and I have no doubt that the rigorous touring schedule is more tolerable when the family can travel as a unit. Maybe one day I’ll come to appreciate TTB in the same way that I did DTB. For now, though, the wounds are still too fresh, the memories still too clear. I still want my band back.
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Written by Rob Peoni
Photograph by Matt Beuoy
Austin, Texas rockers The Bright Light Social Hour return to Cincinnati for the 3rd time in the last year to kick off the MidPoint Summer Series at Fountain Square tonight. Their first appearance was at last year’s MidPoint Festival along with a return show in January, and if that wasn’t enough, they will be returning for a fourth time in July for the inaugural Bunbury Musical Festival. In case you’ve missed our previous coverage of the band, you can check out my preview of the January show featuring a live video of hit “Shanty” along with a Thought on Tracks exclusive interview. In support of the group will be local acts Buffalo Killers and The Kickaways.
If you’ve never been down to see a MidPoint Summer show, this is the perfect one to get your feet wet. A stage set up at Fountain Square sets up an incredible scenic venue right in the heart of downtown, and best of all, every show is FREE. Oh, and The Bright Light Social Hour put on a fucking great show. So there’s that reason to go too. The acts on the series represent a wide variety of genres and styles so there is sure to be a show for everyone, not just the stuck up indie crowd like myself. That said, the nights of the MidPoint Summer Series line-up that I find to be particularly intriguing and “must see” are below. You can view the complete list here.
Also, the initial line-up for the always fabulous MidPoint Music Festival in September is scheduled to be announced next week on June 6th. Early bird tickets are currently available for a steal at just $59 for 3 days of live music in venues all over OTR.
A few MidPoint Summer show you won’t want to miss:
The Seedy Seeds
Written by Greg Dahman