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
The perfect blend can be delicious and addicting when done right. Choosing the appropriate base is extremely important, however, the supporting cast of substance classifies the good from the bad. Take the Blizzard from Dairy Queen for example. Vanilla soft serve is the foundation and an array of miniature bites of our favorite chocolate candy bars follow. This winning combination has been a means for parents to shut their children up and listen ever since I can remember. While the standard is great, the obscure is preferred. I was a Nerds Blizzard guy. This candy should not have tasted the way it did with DQ soft serve, but it was magic. Like Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Twins,” it just worked together. Pulling influences from all types of world music, Brooklyn based Tanlines has been my new favorite dynamic duo. The team released of their debut LP Mixed Emotions on Tuesday and since then I have felt like a 10 year-old version of myself finding that perfect blend once again.
Tanlines are compromised of Jesse Cohen (drums, music) and Eric Emm (guitar, vocals). Their project is captivating because it is very much experimental. A mixed pot of off-the-wall ingredients that creates music that just works. The title Mixed Emotions is brilliant because of their ability to pull unique sounds together and create a rich blend. Emm’s stadium filling vocals and rich, melodic synthesizers throughout prove to be the foundation. The Nerds element is sprinkled through the record with ambiguous world drumming patterns and indentifying string instruments. Created by a machine or not, Tanlines’ sound is authentic and provides several anthems to step to.
Track, “All of Me” is their best work and is the song of the record for me. Although early in the album, this is the moment when it all comes together for Tanlines. When this song came through my headphones for the first time I immediately thought music festival. This is a song that is meant for the scorching outdoors and was created to build a summer time dance party. A 10 pound shirt and an overdose of UV rays make sense with this song.
“All of Me”
This momentum is kept as the album progresses and reaches finger snapping mode with track, “Not the Same”. Keyboards start the song and wild western guitar licks lay over the intro. Comfortable synths take over and Emm’s voice erupts. The violin makes a cameo after the chorus as the melting pot of sound grows thicker. The icing on the cake is recorded finger snapping that compliment the many elements of sound. They are unorthodox, but sensible. This is the point on Mixed Emotions where the duo finds perfect balance.
“Not the Same”
Tanlines are innovative and focused on building rhythm to hold the listener’s interest. They are outside of the box musicians that offer the listener the opportunity to embrace many new styles. They hold true to their dancehall foundation, but incorporate alternate sounds to demand engagement. Their choruses are attention grabbing and they sound like they are built for the live show. Like the Nerds Blizzard they are an unlikely combination that brings a smile to my face. I hope to see Tanlines continue to serve up off the menu type music for listeners as they progress in their young career.
Written by Brett McGrath
“A good song transcends production trends. That’s what we were missing, and I wanted to start making songs that would have a life of their own.”
Nostalgia. It’s an interesting concept completely unique to each of us. It can be anything – a sight, a scent, a sound, a touch – and we are swept away with memories of the past and a longing for something that’s now missing. Music has always had a way of inspiring moments like this for me. I tend to associate songs with different periods of my life – every girl I’ve dated, or even had feelings about for that matter, has a song that reminds me of them. I have songs and albums I associate with high school and college, and even remember certain memories based upon a song playing at the same time. This, I think, is normal. But the best nostalgic trips are when I hear something completely new and am taken back…as if, I was waiting for this song the whole time. It completes the picture, so to speak.
Tanlines, the electronic duo of Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen, dropped the first track from their forthcoming album Mixed Emotions entitled “Brothers” earlier this month. While the album will be the band’s first official debut US release, they have been around for a few years. Their first collection of songs, Volume On, was a European-only issue and they did open for Julian Casablancas during a leg of his solo tour in 2009, so it’s not as if these two just started making music. The sound on “Brothers” isn’t so much something completely new as it is the maturation of the duo’s craft.
“Brothers” is a lively track comprised of an afro-beat, warm synths, an 80’s vibe, and a spoonful of that nostalgia I was discussing earlier. It’s completely danceable, yet utterly listenable. Eric’s vocals tread in the perfect range allowing for the beat to work its magic and lift up the listener.
You’re Just the Same As You Ever Were,
You Fighting and You Wonder Why It Makes No Sense.
I’m Just the Same as I’ve Ever Been,
But I’m the Only One Who Doesn’t Notice It.
Much like the band’s sound, the song is ultimately about the struggles in growing up. The conflict between staying true to ourselves and adapting to the new challenges and wants we have as we age is the bitch about life. But this song, while it brings about that for me, brings about the right mix of nostalgia for the past and eagerness for the present. Turn the volume way up, and let loose. You’re alive. Enjoy it.
Mixed Emotions is due out 3-20-12 on True Panther Records.
Written by Greg Dahman