On paper, many big music festivals sound as appetizing as a slice of cool watermelon on a sweltering summer afternoon. That is until one exchanges three hundred dollars for the chance to try and navigate a dizzying tangle of people, bands, and stages, all spread across intense acres of festival grounds. Oh, and that watermelon? It costs 8 bucks.
Interestingly enough, it's the folks at Pitchfork
who sought out to offer a very different sort of experience when they began curating their own festival back in the mid aughts. For all the flack that comes along with being the
tastemakers in the independent leaning music scenes (sometimes merited, other times not), much credit is due for the way Pitchfork goes about its' business in relation to the festival. Low ticket prices, smaller festival grounds, exciting, emerging artists, and reasonable vendor options have always been the festival's forte, making it stand in grave contrast to its' massive, cross town competition (Lollapalooza). True, prices have gone up over the years. But the 120 dollar ticket for the weekend only reflects the increase in artistic profile and consistency in billing that have accompanied the fest in recent years...to which the 2010 edition is no exception.
In anticipation of this weekend's festivities, we're charting your course for P4K domination, offering up 15 acts we feel are not to be missed when the fun all goes down in Union Park this Friday through Sunday. With our guide, we can pretty much guarantee you'll be singing the praises of the allmighty Pitchfork...that is until they inevitably trash your new favorite record. Queue a nudge, nudge, wink, and a smile... - David Pitz
Robyn - 6:25
She's the should-be, run away international success...a Swedish pop maestro that many argue deserves to ride to town on a bigger commercial profile than the one she is currently enjoying. Let's face it though; those who are truly excited to kick their festival weekend off to the sounds of Robyn's production heavy electro pop applaud her scenester credibility. It's like rooting for the underdog (insert Cleveland Cavaliers metaphor here if you so choose), and who doesn't enjoy that? Expect a heavy dose of Robyn's latest album Body Talk Pt. 1 when she takes the stage just as Friday night starts to get busy.
Modest Mouse - 8:30
Don't expect the unexpected when a Johhny Marr-less Modest Mouse takes the stage Friday evening. Though the band is apparently a few months in to the writing process for their next album, Isaac Brock doesn't foresee any new songs infiltrating the band's set this summer. With no album to support, the band should pick apart their classic catalogue at will, providing a veritable "best of" to cap off night number one of the festival.
Real Estate - 1:45
When first I heard the bubbly vats of reverb and delay soaked guitars that permeate Real Estate's debut disk, I questioned the band's timing of release. It was November after all; all hints of general warmth had ceased to be, and the long, lackluster winter lay oh so desperately ahead. Yet here was a four piece band from New Jersey, dabbling in the kind of good vibes that should be reserved for somewhere down the shore. One of the first to play Saturday afternoon, expect an appropriately sunny, sweaty, and settled back vibe to kick off the day. It's a chance to hear the band the way I always wanted to.
Kurt Vile - 2:50
The Philadelphia -based guitarist is a ace in the department of off-kilter melody, furnishing two albums (Constant Hitmaker and Childish Prodigy) with an absolutely absurd amount of heady, lo-fi hooks. The result are two superb collections I'm anticipating will be carried to lofty new heights when flooding from a pile of PA speakers.
Titus Andronicus - 3:20
If I'm being honest, I'd tell you these lackadaisical, Jersey rockers have never quite impressed me in the live setting. If I'm being honest, I'd also admit that I've never encountered them in the wake of their Civil War inspired concept album, The Monitor. It's a doozy of an album, packing 14 minute jams, Patrick Stickles spit fire vocals, and healthy group sing-a-longs into one thrilling sonic experience. Here's hoping that's exactly how these tunes translate when the band performs them on Saturday afternoon.
WHY? - 5:45
Why am I excited to see WHY? Why, because it was Chicago where first the experimental, psych-pop trio found my ears. I was driving home from a job I didn't much care for, listening to the mighty WLUW, feeling bad, and BAM! The odd-ball vocals and inventive pop pastiches of Yoni Wolf's Bay Area band found it's way to the pleasure zone, cheering me up almost instantly.
Wolf Parade - 6:15
Propelled to intense heights by a stunning debut album (05's Apologies to the Queen Mary), Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug's stoic Montreal outfit have remained a steady force on the circuit over the course of the last half a decade. Expect one of the coolest, most anticipated performances of the entire festival when the band launches into material from both it's new album Expo 86, as well as now classic cuts everyone will want to hear.
Panda Bear - 7:25
There are Animal Collective people, and there are Panda Bear people. Perhaps it's not that simple, of course. But it does seem disciples of both the mother ship (Animal Collective), and Noah Lennox' solo vessel to explore do tend to take sides. Me? I'm currently with camp Panda. Person Pitch was a nice slice of odd ball pop, and the release of Lennox' second album Tomboy later this Fall offers an exciting opportunity to hear PB post-Merriweather. Expect a mix of both when Lennox takes the stage just as heat begins to settle.
Washed Out - 2:50
Is "Feel It All Around" the
anthem for the chill wave genre (is chill wave really a genre?)? Depends who you ask. Thinking about hearing its' drowsy, humid bout of sonic ecstasy just as sweat, heat, and summer delirium start settling in does sound like the perfect way to begin the last day of the festival.
Beach House - 3:20
Until the Baltimore duo released Teen Dream, Beach House always seemed a better band to help fend off a nagging cold spell. And yet, songs like "Walk in the Park", "Used To Be", and "Norway" showcase the band sounding warmer than ever, making Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand the perfect group to pick up where Washed Out undoubtedly leaves off.
Local Natives - 3:45
A force of three part harmonies and head bobbing riff work all draped around an exhilarating rhythmic core, Local Natives are one of the best groups of musicians on the bill. In the live setting, the young Southern Californian 5 piece feed off each other's contributions, flawlessly synching together with dynamic and sometimes explosive affect. Don't miss one of the most impressive ensembles out there today, churning through cut after cut from their staggering debut Gorilla Manner.
Neon Indian - 6:45
If Washed Out penned the song that defines chill wave, than Alan Palomo - aka Neon Indian - can lay claim to the
album. Psychic Chasms is the go to touchstone for defining the genre...a collection of blurry, eclectic, video game inspired pop that's positioned Neon Indian as one of the biggest bands on the bill. Though the record seems a bit limited in production, expect Palomo and his band to overcome any recorded deficiencies when they interrupt it live during the late stretch of bands leading into the festival's final night.
Big Boi - 7:25
Big Boi is obviously 1/2 of the funky, lost in space endeavors of legendary hip hop duo Outkast. But his latest solo foray (Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty) is a much lauded recorded effort, and his timeslot on the bill is ideal. Just as the dazed festival goers are getting over their mid afternoon naps and preparing to soak up the last few bands of the weekend, Big Boi will be leading the grounds in what is sure to be an overzealous performance of dramatic proportions.
Sleigh Bells - 7:40
They are the Brooklyn disciples of M.I.A., and yes...we've had some fun with them on the site. Which sort of makes this "put up or shut up" time for Derek E. Miller and Alexis Krauss...at least in my critical mind. The duo will be bringing their acclaimed album Treats to the masses Sunday evening. Will it go down like a tasty snack of spastic, electro noise? Or will I be siding with our pesky editor Joe in his disdain for anything related with M.I.A? Really, I do believe it could go either way.
Pavement - 8:30
The weekend closes with the continuation of Pavement's triumphant reunion tour. Personally, the band's inclusion is what put this festival in the black...the tipping point that necessitated my own return to the Midwest. Expect plenty of zany, fan boy behavior as the band takes a nostalgic trip through pieces of their entire catalogue. It'll be a real Michael Jackson moment...jet packs and all.
Later this week we'll also be bringing you a special edition of our T.G.I.Mixtape, curated by none other than the festival organizers. STAY TUNED!