CHICAGO—The 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival was a hot one. With temperatures in the 90s, organizers were continually busy distributing bottles of water, spraying the thick crowds clustered near the festival’s three stages, and reminding attendees about the buses functioning as cooling stations.
When my friends and I arrived on day one of the festival—Friday, July 15—our first stop was at the blue stage to see Das Racist, a hip-hop trio with whom we’re intimately acquainted. An underground group about to release their first official full-length album, Das Racist challenged their fans by performing a lot of new material and declining to bring out their signature cult hit, “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” The initially enthusiastic crowd seemed a little underwhelmed, but nonetheless, the group’s momentum seems unlikely to slow down.
The day’s headliners were Animal Collective. I’ve never been closely acquainted with Animal Collective’s music, but my friend Becky Lang has seen them multiple times, and she was disappointed—as were others—with the band’s jam-heavy set.
The crowd was in the mood to party, though, and the open field behind the sound booth turned into a dance floor full of grinning hipsters happily kicking up dust.
When the day’s official program ended, my friends and I decamped to a nearby venue where Patron tequila was sponsoring a promotional party. We gladly allowed ourselves to be bribed with free drinks as we enjoyed an energetic set by El Radio Fantastique.
When we returned to Union Park on Saturday, the park was quiet and copacet for a dreamy (a little too dreamy for my taste) set by Julianna Barwick, an artist who loops her vocals into soundscapes that Becky aptly described as “mermaid music.”
Following Barwick were Woods, a Brooklyn outfit who opened with bright folk-pop that sounded great until it degenerated into interminable jams that we were insufficiently drugged to enjoy.
I was much impressed, like the rest of the crowd, by the energetic set performed by Cold Cave—all the more impressive given that Wesley Eisold and his bandmates took the stage in all-black outfits including leather jackets, making for a show that was “cold” neither literally nor otherwise. (See what I did there?)
Still to come: Deerhunter, TV On The Radio, and more. See The Tangential for more photos from the 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival.