Monday, July 14, 2014

Festival Preview: Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 - Sunday, July 20

With Pitchfork Fest rapidly approaching, it's time to preview the last day... the big payoff of the festival. Much like last year's fest, the daily lineup for Sunday is packed with tough decisions. In hopes of making these a little easier for you, I've laid out some key time slot battles that you'll come across during Sunday's festivities, and did my best to make the choice for you. And as always, we have a Spotify Playlist for you to preview every artist playing the Fest on Sunday.

Speedy Ortiz (1pm @ Blue Stage) -vs- Mutual Benefit (1pm @ Green Stage)

Your first choice of the day basically comes down to two genres, so pick your poison. Speedy Ortiz is an indie-grunge quartet based out of Massachusetts, and coming off of a very well received LP, Major Arcana including receiving "Best New Music" from Pitchfork upon it's release last year.

Mutual Benefit fits into multiple genres, but they play heavily off of electronic and folk music. The band has no concrete lineup of members, but rather is an amalgam of musicians gathered by frontman Jordan Lee. Like Speedy Ortiz, their latest album, Love's Crushing Diamond received Pitchfork's "Best New Music" label, and sounds somewhat like a cross between Lord Huron, Phosphorescent, Conor Oberst and a touch of Bon Iver.

Verdict: Can't go wrong here, I might float between the stages, but will probably start with Mutual Benefit... if I get bored, I'm heading to the Blue stage for some female-led grunge.

DIIV (1:45 @ Red Stage) -vs- Perfect Pussy (1:55 @ Blue Stage)

One of the toughest decisions of the day, and probably the weekend.

I enjoy DIIV's sound, as I'm a sucker for the late 80s punk-slash-new wave revival that is taking the scene by storm lately. I love Beach Fossils (DIIV's lead singer Cole was a founding member of the group) and DIIV's sound isn't too far off.

Perfect Pussy came away from this year's SXSW as one of the most talked about new artists. They feature a fairly heavy punk sound, led by singer Meredith Graves. The name itself is probably one of the most divisive names around, and those who haven't heard them before are either going to be drawn to the group's afternoon set, or turned off by it completely.

Verdict: Gonna stick with DIIV here. Cole has a habit of making his live performances pretty memorable and potentially very controversial. Either way, this time slot features two performers that have the potential to be huge conversation pieces post-festival.

Deafheaven (2:30pm @ Green Stage) -vs- Isaiah Rashad (2:50pm @ Blue Stage)

Again, if you know what kind of music you like, and stick to it, this decision will be easy for you. For people who are consistently on the fence and are just looking for a more memorable performance, this decision will be tough.

On one hand, you have Isaiah Rashad, an up-and-coming emcee who has collaborated with everyone from Schoolboy Q to SZA, who are also both appearing at Pitchfork Fest that weekend. For the sole reason alone of anticipating an onstage collaboration with EITHER of those artists, it makes the set worth checking out. Rashad comes from Kendrick Lamar's TDE, so you know there's some promise here.

On the other hand, you have Deafheaven, one of the most critically well-received post-metal bands of last year, if not ever. Their 2013 album Sunbather consistently found its way to Top 10 lists at the end of last year, and brought metal fans out of the woodwork.

Verdict: Can't turn down a chance to see a metal act at a festival like this, they usually show up. Not to mention, I'll be looking for some aggressiveness in the festival after Death Grips dropped out/ quit on everyone. But I may stray away towards the end of the set to check out some Top Dawg Entertainment.

Earl Sweatshirt (3:20 @ Red Stage) -vs- Dum Dum Girls (3:45 @ Blue Stage)

God damn this is another tough one. Earl has been my favorite member of Odd Future since they came upon the scene (well, famous rapping member... nothing tops Frank Ocean). Not only does he drop some of the best verses, he's also one of the most funny and controversial members - two things OFWGKTA does very well. Earl has recently stated that his Summer/Fall tour dates were going to be cancelled, due to exhaustion, but vowed to play Pitchfork that weekend, including an after show appearance at Metro on Saturday night.

Dum Dum Girls @ SXSW14 
Photo Credit: Kellen Nordstrom

Meanwhile, Dum Dum Girls boast a sound that is so "Summer" to me, I'm not going to be able to stay away from the set for long before my ears are magnetized by Dee Dee's voice and my body follows suit. I love west coast surf rock.

Verdict: Another split. I will probably start at Earl and meander my way over to Dum Dum Girls, there seems to be enough of a gap to be able to do so. Once again, not a loser in this bunch.

At this point in the day, we're getting to some pretty big names and there's a half hour between sets. I'll switch back to my usual format, and highlight some sets I'm not going to miss...

Schoolboy Q (4:15pm @ Green Stage)

One of the hottest hip hop artists around, coming from Kendrick Lamar's Top Dawg Entertainment label, who he also founded the group Black Hippy with, Q has had an incredible year. His debut album, Oxymoron debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 list, and features some of the best flow and hook talent of any hip-hop album I've heard this year.

I have high hopes for a Q/Kendrick collab of "Collard Greens" - one of my favorite songs this year - at some point on Sunday.

Real Estate (5:15pm @ Red Stage)

Not much else to say here aside from the fact that Real Estate's Atlas is one of my favorite albums that has come out this year; I'll also be watching them perform in a much smaller, more intimate setting, the night before as they play an after show gig at Lincoln Hall with Peter Matthew Bauer (of The Walkmen) for Pitchfork's Nightcap series... but more on that within the next couple of days.

Here's their video for "Talking Backwards" off of this year's LP, Atlas:

Grimes (7:25pm @ Red Stage) & Kendrick Lamar (Sunday's Headliner 8:30pm @ Green Stage)

No brainers here.

I've never seen Grimes live, and have had the biggest music crush on her since her last album Visions, which had her exploding onto the scene in 2012. I've heard really bad things about her sets before, but after hearing positive things from friends and colleagues who saw her new stuff in NYC at Governor's Ball last month, I'm convinced the bad sets are behind her.

I'm incredibly pumped to hear some of her new stuff as well; her latest single, "Go" is one of my favorite dance tracks this year, and seems to be a welcome change... despite what the hipsters say. I kind of like the trap elements in the chorus/breakdown.

Kendrick Lamar @ SXSW'13
Photo by Kellen Nordstrom
On the other hand, Kendrick is one of my perennial favorites. I've seen him 3 times since his insanely well-received album, good kid, m.A.A.d City came out, and I don't mean to say this as a bragging right. He's grown so much since the first time I saw him at SXSW '13, performing with just his DJ on stage, resulting in just a normal hip-hop set.

The last time I saw him, opening for Kanye West during his Yeezus tour (one of the best show's I have EVER seen, by the way), Kendrick was backed by a full band, and his set was incredible. I'm hoping he turns up to Pitchfork with that band, and some gnarly visuals, and puts a fantastic end cap to a weekend that's sure to be amazing.

Also performing on Sunday: Jon Hopkins (4:45pm @ Blue Stage); Majical Cloudz (5:45pm @ Blue Stage); Slowdive (6:15pm @ Green Stage); DJ Spinn (6:45pm @ Blue Stage); Hudson Mohawke (7:45pm @ Blue Stage) - Poor Hudson, scheduled two years in a row against Sunday's Headliner.

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