Friday, June 25, 2010
The Tallest Man on Earth
When you think of one-man acoustic folk acts, powerful is not typically the first word that comes to mind. But that is exactly what emanates from The Tallest Man on Earth. The solo project of Sweden folk singer Kristian Matsson, The Tallest Man on Earth's allure emerges through his evocative conviction, lyrical prowess and vocal strength. The result simply is not your run of the mill singer-songwriter, but rather a phenomenal talent that stands as the perfect way to start off the 2010 Pitchfork experience.
The Tallest Man on Earth - "King of Spain"
This year has found hip-hop mogul El-P in a major sea change. The longtime producer and head of indie-hip hop record label Definitive Jux (former home to Aesop Rock, Del the Funky Homosapien, RJD2, Dizzee Rascal and more) saw its doors close. So while one aspect of El-P's acclaimed career has been put on hold for the time being, he nevertheless will make an appearance to perform at the festival. As a rapper, he stands as of the most underrated hip-hop artists over the past decade. Between his raw cynicism and dark perspective, he manages to perfectly capture the pessimistic side of the human experience.
El-P - "League of Extraordinary Nobodies"
One of the elder acts of modern indie-rock, Modest Mouse has managed to carve out a formidable career based on their consistent excellence and progression—feats which comprise much of the reason that they are leading off as Pitchfork festival’s opening headliner. With seventeen years of continued recording and touring, frontman Isaac Brock and his Washington-based group has very much defined indie-rock for others and influenced them on a similarly trajectory, both on a musical and career level.
Modest Mouse - "3rd Planet"
Falling somewhere in the midst of high energy rockers such as Bruce Springsteen, Dinosaur Jr., Flogging Molly and The Hold Steady, Titus Andronicus is coming off the recent release of their sophomore album The Monitor—an album that is sprawling in nature and triumphant via its dissonant and anthemic noise. The New Jersey outfit is every bit as smart as they are gritty, in turn creating a brilliant sound that is sure to come alive during their afternoon set. Between the stunningly epic “A More Perfect Union” and the bar-rocker “Theme from ‘Cheers,’” Titus Andronicus remains one of the bands who excite me the most at Pitchfork this year.
Titus Andronicus - "A More Perfect Union"
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
While bands such as The White Stripes and The Black Keys led the predominant garage blues revival that occurred over the past decade, they were by no means the harbingers of that sound. It was in the early 90’s, however, that this now-prevalent style emerged, with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion among punk-blues’ early cultivators. Like many musical forerunners, it has taken a long while to for the group to receive credit for their artistic progressions of the sub-genre, with their performance standing as an overdue sign of their accomplishments.
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Wail"
This one is really a no brainer. LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening is the best record of 2010 up to this point. This Is Happening has also been rumored to be the group’s last album together. LCD Soundsystem is headlining the festival’s second night. What these statements mean is that there should be no reason to miss this band perform under any circumstances. With a reputable and energetic live act, frontman James Murphy will put on a show of the highest caliber as the Chicago crowd dances themselves clean into the summer evening.
LCD Soundsystem - "I Can Change"
I don’t think there can be a better setting than on summer afternoon amongst a large crowd to see Best Coast. Ex-Pocahaunted member Bethany Cosentino started Best Coast last year, and has made waves with her stripped-down brand of lo-fi surf-rock ever since. Her debut album Crazy For You is expected to be released near the end of July, and her stop at Pitchfork is the perfect place to catch these carefree tunes. If we’re lucky maybe she’ll bring her renowned cat too.
Best Coast - "Sun Was High (So Was I)"
The tale of Girls frontman Christopher Owens has been all but worn out by this point—that is until you see his earnest sorrow in person. The former member of the cult Children of God has experienced nothing short of a pain-stricken upbringing, and has since aimed to find some sense of normalcy in his life. His simple and authentic showmanship becomes further accentuated by the merger of an upbeat instrumentation with his downtrodden despair, his yearning for simplicity with his evident complex feelings down beneath. In an all-too-often music scene surrounded by pretenses (c’mon, it is Pitchfork), Girls is one act where no such display exists.
Girls - "Darling"
For Beach House, it’s all about the ethereal mood. After seeing this duo-turned-trio a couple months ago, the Baltimore dream pop act possesses an immense ability to overcome listeners with their awestriking wave of surreal ambience. Despite Beach House’s classification as bedroom pop, their concerts are anything but that, possessing enough atmospheric presence to stun first-time listeners. Between lead singer Victoria Legrand’s understated voice and Alex Scally’s rich guitar textures, and Beach House is a band who has awoken into a full-fledged thing of beauty.
Beach House - "Heart of Chambers"
For all the talented performers present throughout the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival this year, the undoubtedly most anticipated group is saved for last. Pavement will be returning to Chicago for the first time in over ten years as a part of their one-off reunion tour, providing a new generation with a firsthand chance to see the heralded 90’s rock band. Much of Pavement’s consecration as an influential band has followed from Pitchfork’s coverage over the past ten years, so a nation of festival attendees and homegrown Pavements will be thrilled to finally see their beloved band.
Pavement - "Gold Soundz"