The annual trip to Chicago for Pitchfork Music Festival is a weekend marathon that I look forward to each summer. This time around was no different as I spent three straight days with friends and music that I love. Pitchfork is all about relevancy. Hot Chip, Beach House, Ty Segall, and Dirty Projectors all provided memorable moments while playing favorites off their releases this year. The Union Park getaway offers an expedited introduction to records that Pitchfork coins “Best New Music”. While I spent last weekend checking off a majority of bands that I planned to see this year, it was the intimacy of the aftershows that struck me as I attempt to wrap my thoughts together. Three separate Chicago venues played host to Pitchfork festival snubs, which proved to be some of the most memorable moments of the weekend.
7/13/12: Dent May and Lotus Plaza at Subterranean
Subterranean sits right inside the Wicker Park neighborhood that has been used as a backdrop for such movies as High Fidelity. An immediate feeling of progressive culture hits me every time I head to the Subterranean. As I walk the streets of Wicker Park, I continue to look around and hope that Indy’s Fountain Square neighborhood can continue to grow to reflect the growing cultural shifts. Persistent redevelopment efforts and a push for new bands to stop through venues such as Radio Radio and White Rabbit Cabaret could allow for Fountain Square to grow into one of the Midwest’s most prominent scenes.
Subterranean’s two floors provide plenty of room and optimal vantage points. Oxford, Mississippi’s Dent May was the first to take the stage and offered a pick-me-up for fans feeling lethargic after day one of the festival. As I looked around during Dent May’s set and noticed many pockets of concertgoers dancing in their own respective worlds. I was impressed as the audience was highly engaged and offered Dent May plenty of praise to keep up the pace throughout the set. Dent May spent a majority of his set playing songs from his latest release Do Things, but also dropped old favorites like “Eastover Wives”, which garnered a significant reaction from the crowd.
Lotus Plaza took the stage shortly after Dent May wrapped up and leaned heavily on the reverb throughout their set. I enjoyed the first few songs from their 2012 release Spooky Action At A Distance, but lost interest as the set progressed. After Dent May’s dance party, it was hard to take a step back into chill mode, especially based on the circumstances.
If you have not given Dent May’s Do Things a chance then listen and do not look back. I promise you are in store for some easy going southern summer fun. If you are really digging it go back and grab his debut release The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele. I bought this one on vinyl at the show and it is fantastic as well.
7/14/12: Father John Misty featuring Gal Pal and Night Moves at Schubas Tavern
Schubas Tavern provided the stage for the Yuck/Unknown Moral Orchestra aftershow during last year’s Pitchfork weekend, and it was the last time I had set foot in this magnificent venue. As I got reacquainted with my surroundings ,I immediately made a promise to myself that my next visit would not be as delayed. The show was completely sold out, however, I never felt crowded and the sound was brilliant. After a night in Schubas it is easy to see why critics call it one of the best spots to see a show.
I will begin by saying that both Gal Pals and Night Moves were acts that I was unfamiliar with before entering this show, but certainly worthy of exploration. Both acts were able to embrace the crowd excitement around Father John Misty’s upcoming performance and use it to their advantage. After both sets, I looked over to my fellow Thought on Tracks contributors and noticed a nod of approval. Well done.
Father John Misty was one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend and he completely delivered. Readers of the blog have come to know J. Tillman as one of the most captivating acts of this year because he continues to produce material for us to talk about. Father John Misty went down the list and played the shit out of his debut release Fear Fun. Song, “Nancy from Now On” offered an open invitation for a sing-along amongst a sun burnt, half inebriated set of music lovers looking for one last chance to rock out on Saturday night. I will continue to keep a close eye on the spontaneity of Father John Misty and I am completely thrilled that he verified his great absurdness in his live performance.
7/15/12: Tanlines featuring California Wives at Lincoln Hall
The Sunday sting had settled in and the legs were tired as I left Vampire Weekend to see Tanlines in the final act of a long weekend of fun. Tanlines is coming off their debut full-length Mixed Emotions released on True Panther Sounds and is one of my favorite new artists of 2012. I have simply not been able to put Mixed Emotions down since I reviewed the album in March. Songs like “All of Me” and “Brothers” could both be identified as summer anthems, which help lead to a final burst of energy as Pitchfork came to a close.
Chicago natives, California Wives set the stage and laid down several dance happy hits to begin the show. This was my first exposure to them and I will be sure to keep an eye on their progress, as they will be releasing their debut on September 4th. As Tanlines took the stage it was apparent that festival goers were looking for one more moment of fun and the Brooklyn duo delivered. Tanlines was very personable in between songs and offered the crowd one last optimal opportunity to jam before coming down off a long weekend. The duo offered one last hit to send the crowd buzzing as they closed their set with “All of Me”. The energy inspired one final beer for the weekend and a benchmark moment of the weekend.
In last year’s review of my experience at Pitchfork Music Festival, I praised the event for it’s convenience and I continue to take the same stance with another year under my belt. Not only are the festival easily accessible, but the aftershow venues are easy to tackle. A short cab ride away led me to three of my favorite moments of the entire festival and I will continue to urge festival goers to take part in the additional experience. My goal is to make sure that it is not another year before I step foot in these three amazing venues. If you are looking for a midwestern live music escape, Chicago has it all to offer. From consistent band stops, to amazing festivals like Pitchfork, Chicago sits as the premiere midwestern musical stop for fans looking for a quick live thrill…c’mon Indy.
Written by Brett McGrath
I always find it fascinating to find musicians that make themselves relevant in non-typical geographic locations. I think that it is safe to say that the cities of Brooklyn, Austin, and San Francisco are responsible for providing home base to nearly half of the bands that I am currently listening to. While it is nice to sit back and watch these hotbeds produce talent, it is almost more enjoyable to watch musicians rise from areas with less resources. Often, it takes an artist or two build up a scene and then put that city on the map as a producer of independent music. I immediately of think Guided By Voices in Dayton, Ohio or Built to Spill in Boise, Idaho. These are situations where these great bands help to establish a scene and make it relevant for years to come.
Taylor, Mississippi’s Dent May has taken a small town in the South and made it the latest location to contribute to my musical enjoyment. Dent May did not let an unfamiliar scene hinder his way on to many blogs like this one and that makes me appreciate him even more. Most notably May was able to catch the eyes of Animal Collective while they were recording Merriweather Post Pavilion, Capitalizing on this connection he released his debut The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele in 2009. Track, “Eastover Wives” was my introduction and I have been a fan of him ever since. I have yet to identify whether it is May’s music, personality, or story that compels me most.
Nearly three years later, Dent May is set to release follow up Do Things on June 12 via Paw Tracks. This is a record has been on my list and can’t wait for it to drop. Until then, check the album’s single “Best Friend” and quickly realize that great music can come from anywhere.
Written by Brett McGrath