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 feel sad for kids these days. They have absolutely no concept of so many great things that us mid twenty-somethings grew up with. Take the English language for example. “I C U” is not and will never be a sentence. You can write how it’s pronounced all you want, but to me, it just means you are more than likely ignorant and didn’t do to well on your spelling examinations. Or the family sitcom. I grew up with life lessons from Tim Taylor & Wilson, Danny Tanner & Uncle Jesse, Carl Winslow and Zach Morris. What is there today on modern television that will carry on for generations? Reality TV featuring fat people shedding pounds and 800 singing competitions? Please. And to all my readers older than me, I know, my childhood years were miserable compared to yours. Every generation likes to puff their chest out and talk about the “good old days” and I’m certainly no different. But I do have one huge problem with the younger generation, and for that matter, a large majority of my own. And that is the general death of the ability to listen to an entire album.
The iTunes effect. The best, as well as maybe the worst, thing that ever happened to listening to music. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a staunch iTunes supporter and love the access it gives to music. But albums have been, and continue to be, released for a reason. And that is because there is something about the experience of spending 30 minutes to an hour engrossed and listening to songs by one artist in the order they want you to. I have 70.20 GB of music currently on my laptop, but 99.5% of it are full albums, EPs, or complete 7” releases. I don’t buy or download singles strictly because I believe music is not only best served in album form, but that any musician worth listening to gives you not just one song but an entire collection…a masterpiece of craft if you will. And I feel that the album is, unfortunately, getting away from general society. iTunes libraries full of only random singles and one hit wonders is the norm rather than the outlier today and that’s just a shame. Where is the patience people?
This giant rant stems from my most recent album experience: Spooky Action At a Distance by Lotus Plaza. The solo project of current Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt, it provides everything you want when listening to music. It’s entertaining, thought provoking, relaxing…to put it in better terms, it piques the emotive core inside of you. When I began playing the album yesterday evening, it was with a cup of coffee and my work laptop open. It was roughly towards the end of the fuzzy and subtle second track of the album entitled “Strangers” that I realized this type of listening wasn’t going to work. This album required my complete and undivided attention. So the computer was shut, the TV, already on mute, was turned off, and I just sat, listened, and contemplated my life with the music.
The anticipatory third song “Out of Touch” builds from a high fever to a cacophony of sound before leading into the ever thoughtful and nostalgic “Dusty Rhodes”. It’s the middle of this track where you can begin to hear his friendship with fellow Deerhunter member Bradford Cox begin to reveal itself as an influence in Pundt’s own sound. The droned out vocals and dark landscape almost sound like Bradford’s solo project Atlas Sound’s work while the following “White Galactic One” brings the end of “Revival” from Deerhunter’s most recent effort Halcyon Digest to life with it’s own full song.
“Monoliths” begins the second half of the album by bluntly stating the introspective themes already established and ending with Pundt singing, “One of these days, I’ll come around” over and over again. But perhaps the most beautiful and masterful track on the album is “Jet Out of the Tundra”. Sounding as if you are sitting down in a chair watching photos of your life pass you by, there’s a sense of serenity that forces it’s way out and into the room you are sitting in.
The trio of “Eveningness”, “Remember Our Days”, and “Black Buzz” close out this sophomore effort by continuing the overall mood and overarching themes previously mentioned. At the end, I found myself with overpowering feeling of tranquility with my life. This isn’t an album of sorrow in regards to memories, but rather, a realistic and calming journey into each of our pasts. So while singles are great, don’t forget that the best sounds in life come with A and B sides friends.
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Written by Greg Dahman