Pitchfork 2014

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
Pusha T
5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. After the crowd had cycled through the traditional “We want Push” and “USA” chants, excitement slowly grew into annoyance which grew more quickly into rage. Almost as though his refusal to come out to the USA chant made him somehow unpatriotic. First the crowd began to plea “We Want Based God”, signifying the hipster crowd would rather have cult rap favorite Lil B performing. Then came the boo birds. Reigning down with the unforgettable scorn of 1,000 ironic mustaches and revived 90’s teenage angst. They didn’t seem to hold the unobstructed hatred of the boos experienced by Rex Grossman at Soldier Field after his third pick-six of the game, but they were damn close.

Finally, after 30 minutes Pusha T emerged on stage, inexplicably drenched from head to to. It was strange. Looked like perhaps a Vaseline jar malfunction backstage. Apparently his DJ had gone missing minutes before the show. Who else could POSSIBLY step in, locate the play button on iTunes and successfully click it? Who could possibly smash the shit out of the fake gun noise and fake explosion buttons? Born skills, not learned.

An absolute sprint of a set, most songs lasted no longer than 30 seconds, a measely half hour in total. He encouraged the crowd to sing along on most songs, creating an unparalleled awkwardness, as most of the vodka-drunk high school d-bags obliged, dropping n-bombs to their heart’s desire. The ignorance was vast. The set ended just as quickly as it started and I left feeling unsatisfied. For some reason all of the Goose Island beer tasted like barley wine.

BIGGEST SURPRISE
Danny Brown
Danny Brown converted the entire city of Chicago on Saturday, July 19th. Baptized both young and old in the waters of senselessness, recklessness and unhindered lunacy. I saw what appeared to be a 45 year old zoo keeper and a chick that looked exactly like Stephanie Tanner dancing identically in Brown’s web of depravity. The language of madness is universal.

The amount of chaos on stage was imposing, it was Bartertown from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. There was an immense fog blowing consistently around the stage, undetermined whether it was artificial smoke or weed smoke from the frenzied crowd. When rapping, Brown stood perched one leg on an amp covered in smoke, making varying decrees of degeneracy. Eagerly consumed by the ravenous crowd.

When not rapping, him and his crew danced violently, with no apparent rhythm. It was glorious. He pounded the crowd into a total frenzy. The stage banter was hilarious, desolate and genuine all at the same time. A moment of gratitude followed by a piercing snicker and an earnest question of who had a Molly he could eat. A headline caliber act.

BEST IN SHOW
ST. VINCENT
Almost got screwed on this one as a lanky muppet with an uncanny resemblance to James and the Giant Peach cut in and stood in front of me. I’ve never witnessed such an idiotic and infuriating melon, not to mention he was a sloppy teen-drunk, slugging and spilling peach schnapps everywhere like a complete buffoon. Perplexingly enough he was also barefooted, somehow contributing to my fury. His dancing seemed like something you would do at a Coldplay concert, lots of loose swaying and gazing stupidly into the sky. At one point I caught him hugging himself, unfortunately my sock full of quarters was confiscated at the door.

When the James-and-the-Giant-Peach heckling grew loud enough and he finally fucked off, the set became immensely more enjoyable. St. Vincent owned Pitchfork. A perfectly acted, immaculately choreographed spectacle. It was precise and flawless. Surgical. A beautifully curated set with a face liquefying ending. After a mind-bending shred, she let the guitar slide from her hands, and slumped over on the stage. A portrait of someone who had just left everything they had out there. This vision only disrupted by one more spastic outburst where she awakened and smashed her head repeatedly into the drum set, it was stunning.

BIGGEST HEAD SCRATCHER
Neutral Milk Hotel
There couldn’t have been a more peculiar headliner. After St. Vincent I wandered my way over to the bizarre happenings at the Green Stage where Neutral Milk Hotel had quietly sulked onto the stage. A familiar 90’s wail reigned out over an aggressively aloof crowd. I sat for a while and watched the majority of the crowd lay down, perhaps attempting to catch a quick nap before resuming their night’s activities. I overheard a conversation about high cholesterol and another debating whether Eugene Levy was a good actor or not. No one seemed to be drinking at this point. No one seemed to be doing much of anything.

A pale blue light covered what appeared to be 5 very timid, very sullen men. The video screens were turned off. There was no light show, there was no stage presence, it was as though everyone there was staring at a photograph. A tiny completely plain diorama, constructed by a 3rd grader without much imagination. Nothing about the performance indicated it was a headliner. It would have been very enjoyable, eating a scone and drinking out of an over-sized ceramic coffee mug on a brisk morning in October. Not here, not now, not these circumstances. Maybe it was a strategic move by Pitchfork to completely neutralize the crowd still buzzing from Danny Brown. It was at potent as a tranquilizer gun, bringing on instant sobriety and a will to quietly and peacefully exit the premises. People were heading for the exits faster than when they play Closing Time at a bar.

 

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