Friday, July 31, 2009

Pitchfork Music Festival 2009 - pt. 1

I'm the guy everyone else behind me hates at concerts - tall with a big head. But that also means I get to see everything and have a heads-and-shoulders advantage for taking pictures and video. My camera doesn't do justice to any of the guitar sounds, mostly all you can hear are the vocals and drums, and typically my pictures are mediocre at best. Just take my word for it that it was one of the best, and most exhausting weekends of my life. The festival crams about a dozen bands into 10 hours each of Saturday and Sunday, and a few bands on Friday. (I did not go on Friday.)

Acts I wish I didn't miss: The Walkmen, The National, Pharaoh Monch, Vivian Girls

Worst show: Doom

Most annoying hipster accessory I'm guilty of: Wayfarer shades

Good shows I don't have pictures of and therefor aren't covered below: M83, Matt and Kim

The following clips and videos are ranked with my favorite show of the weekend first.
Black Lips
Saturday, July 18
The Black Lips are a bunch of deviants. After a lengthy sound check, guitarist whats-his-face immediately smashed the shit out of his Gibson on the first song, tossing the broken neck into the crowd, asking if anyone needed a pick-up.
Known for their onstage antics, the boys didn't do anything illegal this time around, but they did a fine job of letting the world know that they, in fact, do not give a fuck.
Standing in the first few rows for the Black Lips, it was too rowdy to take any video, and the stills I took before we pushed our way to the front are mostly garbage 'cause it was nighttime. Needless to say, the Black Lips put on a raunchy, awesome show, full of crowd surfing, band-member drinking and fan behavior-bating. Over the course of seeing more than a dozen bands, the dirty bastards in the Black Lips still find a way to standout as the grimiest bunch of rock n' rollers in the group. They had to play a short set - Pitchfork agreed with the Po to shut everything down by 10 p.m., and the band before the Black Lips played late. I should feel guilty for skipping the National for the Lips show, they were, of course, every critic's favorite, but I can listen to the National at home. I can't jump and sweat and scream with kindred idiots at home. The set hit all the favorites - "Oh Katrina," "Bad Kids," "Starting Over," but they could have easily played for another hour and not run out of titles I wanted to hear.

The Thermals
Sunday, July 19

The Thermals mixed in several covers, opening with Sonic Youth's "100%," (a song I didn't know) along with some others easier to recognize - Green Day's "Basket Case," which they played without a hint of irony, giving it the same level of enthusiasm they imbue any of their own political indie-pop punk. This was probably the closest I got for any show, and left without most of my voice, and several ounces of sweat. This video is lame, one of my least favorite songs they played, but the crowd wasn't going as crazy so I could pull our my camera without risk of breaking it.


This buzz band blew up quick as hell (and without backlash, so far), from recording on a bedroom record label to playing for thousands at Pitchfork. And they rocked. Dude's got one guitar feeding 12 12-inch fender speakers (in 4 cabinets), mic'd for the PA of course, and gets the crunch only a pile of hot glowing tubes can get. His confidence borders on cockiness, but the guys from Canada know how to put on a rock show. Did I mention/brag that I had the vinyl before anyone else? Sorry.


Brendan said...

A friend and I went down to St. Louis last night to see The Black Lips play at this small venue called Firebird. I'll be honest with you, I had never listened to them before, and they didn't exactly encourage me to go borrow some of their albums from the library. However, it was a hell of a show. They really are a sweaty, grimy, strange group. The guy who smashed his guitar at Pitchfork was telling us how he just bought the guitar he was playing because he felt like it would match the Cadillac he recently purchased. And he reminded me of someone who might run the Tilt-A-Whirl at the Illinois State Fair. The bassist was cool, he seemed fairly clean-cut, but during the show's closer he hopped up and hung from the rafters with one hand while strumming his bass with the free hand, while everyone supported him in their hands. The one guy with the mustache who never takes off whatever hat he's wearing, switched from a train conductor's cap to a huge, black Pilgrim hat throughout the show. But then in one song he actually was hatless! But there was nothing shocking underneath, just hair. And the drummer was pretty normal, he just slammed the shit out of his drum set. Admittedly, none of that was obscene or shocking during the show, but during Bad Kids everyone stormed the stage and sang along/made out with two of the guitarists. All in all, a good show, very enjoyable and not boring for a minute.

But the whole night's show stealer was the drummer for one of the two opening acts, The Box Elders. Actually, drummer isn't a good term for him since he played the drums with one hand, but as well as if someone used two hands while SIMULTANEOUSLY playing an organ with his left hand. When he was slapping maracas and tambourines and cowbells, he would dance with his free arm, making the sign of the cross frequently and pointing in all directions. He was nuts, but a true artist. Here's a good visual:

Warped Coasters said...

haha damn that sounds awesome. if you like loud and rough garage rock the black lips' last two albums are must haves — "200 Million Thousand" and "Good Bad Not Evil." I would see them live again in a heartbeat, scream and jump and have so much damn fun. How did that not encourage you to get some albums? The mustachioed guy wore a large black Mexican hat for the show i saw, and would hauk loogies straight up in the air and catch them in his mouth while playing, hahaha. the guitarist has some gold teeth. they fucking rule. PS I appreciate your frugality but stop relying on the library for all yr damn albums and movies, support an artist, bro. And that kind of shit will hold you back from hearing everything you want to hear. There were so many albums I was too cheap to buy back in the day that I only just got now and I regret it.

Brendan said...

I used to buy cds/movies/books/tv shows etc. all the time when I was a kid. Anytime I had money, it burned a hole in my pocket so big, you could see straight through my pants to my underwear. Haha, that's so corny, but you get the drift. Anyway, I never had money for a long time, but now that I work at Dunn, McMenamin & Cavanagh, I'm making beacoup bucks. I even bought Shame, Shame the other day (worth it). I'm trying to spend more on music these days, but to be honest, quite a few times I haven't bought an album because I like getting a burned copy from, say, Carrie, complete with the giver's own interpretative album artwork. I won't let you down, man.