With bands like Grizzly Bear, The Black Lips, and The National playing in some of the bigger time slots at Pitchfork this year, it has become apparent to me how these bands have broken out through the help of Pitchfork, now playing to significantly larger crowds than they did last year. While it's easy to see that these bands are big indie acts, not everyone could have predicted such success at this time last year. Who will be the next set of breakout bands? I have chosen my candidates for bands who played earlier shows this festival, who are on the brink of becoming much bigger, and who could be seen playing the late shows at Pitchfork in years to come.
Photo by dirty black chucks
The Walkmen are distinguished most by the lead singer Hamilton Leithauser’s Dylan-esque voice, which he emulates so with much success. Leithhauser is complimented by the rest of the band, who offer an intriguing combination of an antiquated, warm indie sound. Their sound becomes even more complex as they layer their music with frequent dynamic changes between their meandering ballads and blistering explosions of beautiful noise.
Highlights from their set include “The Rat”—a fast-paced, straight up, edgy rock song teeming with Leithauser’s angry and bitter lyrics, as he shouts out “You've got a nerve to be asking a favor / You've got a nerve to be calling my number”. In addition, the band had the support of about a half-dozen horn players, which complemented their rustic feel nicely on songs such as the lonesome ballad “Red Moon”. With up to ten people on stage during their show, The Walkmen’s full sound provided the crowd with one of the more impressive acts of the festival.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Photo by Robert Loerzel
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart can be described in a nutshell as pure pop bliss. Their innocent, noised laced indie rock combines a shoegaze sound topped with undeniably catchy riffs. The band, which exploded onto the indie-rock scene with the release of their 2009 eponymous debut album, hails from New York and was performing at Pitchfork for the first time.
Despite the light rainfall during their set, the band brought their A-game from the moment they stepped on the stage. The band impressed the crowd as they cranked out a solid set, with a string a songs including “Young Adult Friction”, “Come Saturday”, “Everything with You”, and “Stay Alive”. While the band did not stray much from their album versions, they did not need to, as their tightness as a band defined their clean pop sound on Saturday.
The entire band seemed beyond happy with the idea that they were playing at this festival. Lead singer Kip Berman looked in awe, donning a smile which was overflowing with his happiness and gratefulness just to be there. While this was only their first time playing Pitchfork, I have a feeling it will not be their last.
Photo by self-titledmag
Portland natives Blitzen Trapper are a six-piece outfit, with a diverse sound ranging from folk to country-tinged rock, mixed with a variety of other influences, including Tom Petty and the Grateful Dead. The band released their 2008 album Furr, receiving acclaimed criticism from numerous publications. Since Furr came out, the band has really come into their own as live performers, and it showed both at their Pitchfork set, as well as their after-show at the Empty Bottle.
Blitzen Trapper kicked off their set ready to rock, as they jammed with their more powerful, Americana-based rock , including “Sleepytime in the Western World,” “Wild Mountain Nation,” and “Saturday Nite.” These songs got the crowd’s attention, as they seemed to be enjoying the groove that these songs possessed. Halfway through the set, Blitzen Trapper played their hit “Furr”, which brought the hipster-filled crowd together for a sing along of sorts. By the time the set had reached its end, the crowd seemed pleased with what they had heard.
Be sure to check these bands out over the next year, as there is a good chance one or more will breakout!
(Repost of my story from the Windy Citizen: http://pitchforkmusicfestivalblog.windycitizen.com/)