Wild Flag / Sleigh Bells
Day 2 of the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival happened on Saturday (7/14) with sets from Grimes, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hot Chip, Sleigh Bells, Nicolas Jaar and more. We've already got pictures of day 2 up on BrooklynVegan, and here's another set of pics for BV Chicago.
I began my Saturday at the Blue Stage for The Atlas Moth, whose bluesy doom was an appropriate fit for the grey weather we had early on at the fest. Vocalist and guitarist Stavros Giannopoulos flashed a friendly peace sign that contrasted the aggression of his high, crackling scream. The interweaving riffs of the three guitarists give a lively edge to the band's slow, doomy rhythms. They were later joined by Chicago jazz trumpeter Jaimie Branch, who previously lent her skills to a track on The Atlas Moth's 2011 album An Ache For the Distances, and de facto Chicago rock saxophonist Bruce Lamont of Yakuza and Bloodiest. Lamont also performed with The Atlas Moth at SXSW 2012, and just last week contributed to The Black Lips' performances at The Empty Bottle and West Fest.
Cloud Nothings started on the cheerier end of their 2012 album Attack On Memory opening with "Fall In" and following with "Stay Useless". The rain began after "Separation," and it was down-pouring by the noisy bridge of "Wasted Days" a couple songs later. The stage hands covered the floor monitors with tarps before the PA system was shut off entirely, leaving the band jamming at stage volume. When frontman Dylan Baldi went to sing and found his mic off, the crowd took over the chant of "I thought I would be more than this" before Cloud Nothings closed out their set. They seemed disappointed, but great set nonetheless.
The sky had cleared by the time Bradford Cox took the stage as Atlas Sound, decked out in a straw hat, white face paint and a harmonica hanging angularly from his neck. Like most Atlas Sound shows, it was just Bradford and his acoustic guitar on stage, but he creates layers of sound with the loop and effect pedals that he runs it through.
The rain picked up again for Liturgy, who have disintegrated from a black metal quartet into a guitar duo backed by programmed drums. This was not the kind of set that you casually walked away from; it either captivated or repelled. The bizarre electronic drum tones might have fit better with dance music, but instead followed chunky, mechanical rhythms which usually synced up well, but lacked the dynamics that used to be provided by live drummer Greg Fox.. At one point, frontman Hunter Hunt Hendrix gave a solo vocal performance that involved him looping his voice into a strange, twisted chant, which stood in contrast to the howling and yelping scream he produced during the rest of the set.
The sun made its final return by the time Flying Lotus began his set. He spun bits of A$AP Rocky, a sped up Schoolboy Q, and the beat to "Niggas in Paris," mixed with pieces of his own abstract recordings. He was joined mid-set by rapper and Brainfeeder label mate Azizi Gibson, who also played the Brainfeeder showcase that night.
After a long set up and some volume issues with the PA, Nicolas Jaar and his live band began creating a swell of noise before settling into a cool electronic R&B groove. Though some of the band's mics were too quiet, the set was still enjoyable.
Back at the Blue Stage, Schoolboy Q walked on stage and yelled "Pitchfork, what it fuckin' do?" He later made a comment about being faded, a mental state fans might have expected from the lyrics of "Hands On the Wheel," which was heard during both his and Flying Lotus' sets. Many of his songs work in a party setting, but there is a dark sense to it. He made sure to keep the energy up, jumping and yelling more aggressively than heard in his recordings.
Hardcore fans of Godspeed You! Black Emperor had camped out in front of the Green Stage for a couple hours prior to their set, though it was still possible to get a good spot, about as far back as the sound booth, fifteen or so minutes before they began. The proximity of the stages made it easy to catch any artist for an acceptable amount of time, yet there was very little bleeding of sound between stages.
Godspeed spent the first several minutes of their set focusing on one note, working intently on expanding it slowly by creating noise that inched up toward harmonizing notes. After a careful build, the strings broke out into a dark Eastern European melody. When the first song ended, the silence was eerie, like a cease-fire in a war zone. The often sepia imagery projected behind them reinforced the seriousness of their set, at one point showing sped up smoke stacks spewing vapor and particles into the atmosphere. Having seen their other project Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra earlier this year, the instrumental Godspeed seemed to be more apocalyptic and bleak. Both bands are very critical in a post-modern way, but the lyrics in Silver Mount Zion provide a sense of hope, in that there are other humans aware of the world's problems. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is more like the soundtrack to the human race destroying itself.
Pics from day 1 are HERE. More from day 2 are below...
Atlas Moth (by Chase)
The Psychic Paramount (by James)
Cloud Nothings (by James)
Lotus Plaza (by Chase)
Atlas Sound (by James)
Liturgy (by James)
Cults (by Chase)
Youth Lagoon (by James)
Flying Lotus (by Chase)
Nicolas Jaar (by James)
Wild Flag (by Chase)
Sleigh Bells (by Chase)
Sleigh Bells (by James)
Chromatics (by James)
Hot Chip (by Chase)
Danny Brown (by James)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor (by James)
Grimes (by Chase)
More pictures from day two up on BrooklynVegan.