The slate of bands begins at 1PM, however I plan to arrive in time for the 2:40 appearance by The Antlers on the Balance (B) stage. To say that I am bowled over by the magnificence of The Antlers Hospice is to put it mildly. It is a concept album that hangs together under the heavy theme of a man losing a loved one to cancer and having to witness her death first-hand. It is an epic record and probably the act I am most excited to see over the whole weekend. The range of Hospice’s tunes runs the gambit of expansive and huge to quiet and subdued, reminding me at times of artists as diverse as Sufjan Stevens, Muse and The National.
At 3:20 it is time to hustle over to see The Pains of Being Pure at Heart on the Connector (C) stage. Their self-titled debut is sugar sweet, but truth be told wore out quick for me. TPOBPAH sound is an ultra-poppy version of shoegazer rock. Definitely catchy, but in what live performances I have seen the band’s charisma and vocal prowess have been lacking. Still based on the quality of their record they are an act not to miss.
Then from 4:15-5:15 I personally plan to be visiting the excellent record sale and grabbing something to nosh on. The two bands playing at this time are Ponytail and Final Fantasy. One is hyper and noisy (Ponytail) and the other is violin-based orchestral synth-pop (Final Fantasy). Maybe check out a couple songs by each, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend either.
Then at 5:15 the conundrums of Saturday really begin. 5:15 sees Yeasayer on the Connector stage and at 5:30 Wavves are on the Balance stage. Yeasayer are almost certain to play a set dominated by new songs as they have been recording a new record due in early 2010. I for one really want to see the song “2080” performed live. Wavves will most certainly attract the “train wreck” audience. Frontman Nathan Williams had a well publicized meltdown in Spain which resulted in a European tour cancellation. And just today (Mon.) it has been reported that he broke his wrist skateboarding on 7/12, but will still play Pitchfork “against doctor’s orders.” Oh, the drama! A little Wavves goes a long way for me. Their lo-fi, distorted vocal, two-piece punk noise is pretty one dimensional.
At 6:15 Doom hits the Aluminum (A) stage and at 6:30 Lindstrøm plays on the Balance (B) stage. Doom of course is the masked MC who trades in inventive lyrics and lethargic vocals and goes by several aliases. Lindstrøm is a Norwegian composer of slow-building dance music that he himself describes as soft, warm, symphonic disco. Sign me up! Although neither genre would seem to translate particularly well outdoors I will hedge my bets that Lindstrøm will put on a better show, but Doom is a rarely seen performer and even has been rumored to have had impostors perform shows as him in the past.
At 7:25 Beirut is next on my agenda on the C stage. Zach Condon and Beirut do wispy folk pop with plenty of horns and melodrama. Earlier this year Condon released a double EP March of the Zapotec/Holland, which displayed a heavy Mexican horn influence and then a second half successfully dabbling in electronic songs, making Beirut a must see act. If that isn’t your bag, Matt & Kim will be on the B stage doing their drum and keyboard happy boy-girl tunes. They are a little too cute and disposable for me, but very upbeat performers.
Rounding out the night at 8:40 on the A stage is The National. Despite the fact that their last record, the masterful gem Boxer came out in 2007, here they are headlining. These guys can do no wrong in my book. The drumming and the vocals alone are reason enough to watch their set. Matt Berninger’s distinctive baritone painted over the dual guitar work of the Desner brothers is captivating to listen to. Having played Pitchfork in 2006 and Lollapalooza last year, The National are no strangers to summer nights in Chicago.
Saturday’s weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 75 and a low of 61, with a negligible 10% chance of precipitation.