Pitchfork 2012: Best and Worst of the Festival
Willis Earl Beal, one of our favorite acts at this year's fest
With umbrellas in our hands and rainboots on our feet, Chicago braved the storms at Union Park this weekend for the seventh annual Pitchfork Music Festival. Photographers Ray Whitehouse and James Trevenen shot the wildest style, crowds, and performances, while writer Elly Fishman caught the best of the fest’s performers—both on stage and off. Our perseverance was rewarded with a full day of sun, some awesome sets, and even a Lady Gaga sighting. Here, our best and worst of the fest:
Grimes. Grimes (Claire Boucher) is a rare performer who is equal parts endearing, commanding, and earnest. A Vancouver native, she started gaining traction after releasing her third album, Visions, earlier this year. And on Saturday, Grimes showed us what all the hype is about. Flanked by the Tumblr-famous dancing duo, Molly Soda and Claire van Eijk, Grimes’s culled influences from hip-hop to house to dolphin calls. Trust us, it works.
Chromatics. This trio has the eerie, 1980s electronica sound that was popularized on the Drive soundtrack. So, basically, evoking images of Ryan Gosling. 'Nuff said.
Willis Earl Beal. We first met Beal earlier this summer in our July story about rising Chicago musicians, and on Friday, Beal’s performance rivaled that of any veteran rock star. With only a black cape and a mostly-empty bottle of whiskey as props, Beal brought the incredible dynamism that only a South Side native could.
Dirty Projectors. These New Yorkers rocked out during their Friday set with tights harmonies and sheer joy. We have to say, however, that the magic really unfolds when the band's females take the lead—it really doesn’t get much better than this weekend’s performance of lady anthem, "Stillness is the Move."
Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag and Portlandia fame, backstage at Pitchfork
Wild Flag. Carrie Brownstein may have gained new celebrity thanks to her brilliant sketch show Portlandia with SNL veteran, Fred Armisen, but no fictional character is livelier than Brownstein herself, who really has mastered the rocker leg-kick and hair-whip.
Thee Oh Sees. With John Dwyer at the helm, this San Francisco band played a surprisingly fun show that was a combination of stomping 1970s rock and indie pop vocal lines.
Beach House. Despite their sleepy sound, this duo stood out with epic vocal sweeps and swells and by the end of their set they had blanketed the entire crowd in a soft, electro-pop haze.
Lady Gaga Sighting: The queen of pop showed up to watch rapper Kendrick Lamar perform on Sunday.
Nicolas Jaar: Jaar’s ambitious, eclectic, electronic beats can easily engulf an audience within an enclosed space, but the set wasn’t robust enough to fill the large, open-air fest.
That time Feist tried to get the audience to sing along to “Mushaboom”
and “1234”: It didn’t work.
Chavez: These guys had an unsettling 1993 vibe that blended Bush and early Goo Goo Dolls.
The rain: Good for the grass, bad for our hair.
CORRECTION: Feist did not play "1234," as we reported. Upon further reflection and consulting the recollection of others, our reporter realized she was mistaken. We regret the error.
Photograph: Ray Whitehouse