Pitchfork Music Fest Preview: My Picks for Sunday 7/19

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Unless you are truly hardcore, arrival time for Sunday’s festivities ought to be 2:30PM. Head right over to the Aluminum (A) stage for abstract folksters Blitzen Trapper.  I admire their 2008 release Furr and 2007’s solid Wild Mountain Nation was one of three self-released albums prior to becoming Sub Pop artists.  Their sound is multi-layered acoustic-based folk that hues towards the experimental side of pop and boasts a six man lineup.

At 3:35 the Balance (B) stage is the place to be to take in Women, a Canadian band that ironically contains no women!  Their Jagjaguwar debut is a grimy affair highlighted by the track “Black Rice,” which to me sounds eerily like what I imagine Brian Wilson would sound like if he were still making relevant music today.

The 4:15 to 5:15 hour is my chosen time for feeding and shopping.  I think.

If you have never seen The Walkmen live then it is your duty to peep them at the Connector (C) stage at 5:15.  Personally I have seen them 6 times and am opting to look to the future by checking out recent Polyvinyl signees Japandroids on the B stage.  However if I haven’t been clear enough, The Walkmen are a worthy option as they are sure to play their ubiquitous and unbelievable live version of “The Rat.”  Unfortunately their current tunes from 2008’s You and Me are far more loungy and subdued and fail to translate as well live.  What can I say about Vancouver’s Japandroids?  They are a spastic two-piece of guitar and drums and shared vocals.  Legend has it that their plan was to be a trio, but opted to jointly handle the lead vocals instead.  I am very curious as to how they pull off the big sound and menace of a track like “Young Hearts Spark Fire” live.

At 6:15/6:30 the toughest decision of the weekend arrives.  M83 is on the A stage and The Vivian Girls are on the B stage.  It is such a difficult call that to make it easier on myself I have already purchased a ticket to see The Vivs at Empty Bottle on August 30th.  The three-piece Vivian Girls are a marvelous example of concise pop-punk with spunk.  Their self-titled debut was all of 22 minutes, but with a new full length arriving on September 8th there ought to be enough material to satisfy their fans.  I plan to be listening to the aural soundscapes of French electronic wizard Anthony Gonzalez and M83.  Gonzalez shuffles between keyboards, guitar and samplers all while handling lead vocals.  The live drummer Loïc Maurin who plays wearing headphones and caged in by a clear plastic screen is top notch.  Watch him tear it up on “Kim & Jessie.”  I only wish M83 was playing at sunset as that is the kind of beauty I associate with their sound.

At 7:25, the C stage belongs to Grizzly Bear, making their first Chicago appearance since the release of the nearly flawless Veckatimest. They are Pitchfork Fest veterans and played Lollapalooza last year where they were performed early versions of “Two Weeks” and “While You Wait For The Others.”  Grizzly Bear are impeccable live and based on a recent Late Night with Jimmy Fallon appearance (“Cheerleader”) sound positively enrapturing and majestic.

Bringing the weekend to a close on the A stage at 8:40 are The Flaming Lips performing a “Write the Night” set in which early ticket buyers were given the opportunity to vote for songs to make up the band’s setlist.  I adore The Lips, but am very concerned about the quality of Wayne Coyne’s vocals having seen him struggle mightily at Lollapalooza in 2006.  I doubt they will be arriving in their spaceship, but confetti, costumed fans, balloons and fake blood all figure to be part of the extravaganza.  Perhaps some new songs from their rumored fall 2009 double album will give us a taste of what is next for the band.

Sunday’s forecast calls for a high of 75 and a low of 60 under partly cloudy skies with a negligible 10% chance of precipitation.


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