Pitchfork Fest ’08: Evolution of Hip

July 20th, 2008: As seen on Archive (PDF)

As the natural progression of emergently original things go, Pfork’s festival speaks no more to one niche market, which is something best analogized by !!!’s Nic Offer late afternoon Saturday, before thrusting his pelvis to a series of genre-blurring grunts:

We’re the lowest rated band on Pitchfork, with the highest set time.  It goes to show you the kids know something the critics don’t.

There is no judgment being passed here, for my feet saw their fare share of funkamatronics.  But of this year’s sold-out crew of near 50,000 “kids,” virtually all of them were present in that field, amassing the most diverse crowd I’ve seen in the fest’s three years of existence.  Most of this was due to !!!’s ability to traverse from crooning soul to punk techno circus.

Regardless, witnessing filthy music lovers blacken their pale skin in the mud, with yuppies right alongside them in their brand new Chuck Taylors with the same desire, all in the name of dance and music, was a thing of beauty. !!! punctuated the sentiment with the club-violent bass super-tweaks of “Heart of Hearts,” shaking out a seizure of a chorus:

“‘Cause we’re all fumbling baby/fumbling in the dark/for a heart of hearts.”

The rest of the day truly echoed with cohesion.  Whether it was whirling in the hair-raising vortex of Fleet Foxes and their stacks of CSNY harmonies, onlookers void of all inhibition and singing right there along. Or swallowing a sea of nappers dosing off to Bradford James Cox and his drones-of-locusts fuzz.  Same for The Hold Steady, fully embodying Weezer-type, party-rock unity with epic ’80s pop hooks new LP, Stay Positive.  While wily Jarvis Cocker took a moment to appreciate the female presence, sharing tales about how women appreciate sex just as much as men from a cut called “Girls Like It Too.”

Point is, there was always some demographic being represented somewhere, and legions of others smiling right there with them.  Which really has not been the case in the past.

I’m sure Vampire Weekend were further afro-popping unity vibes, but I made a conscious decision to enjoy the real thing with Extra Golden and Elf Power on the side stage.

No Age deserves a mention for thrashing walls of punk distortion, come moonlight, but it was at the expense of the below young rock stars, who were apparently moshing too hard (later I found out that they had been caught boozing under-age).  Still, the only exclusion act of the entire day.

As for closers Animal Collective, that same !!! crowd rolled up, turning the field this time into one giant indie-tribal rallying cry.  Cheers to the Pfork staff for emanating the sound so pristine, waves of synth washed clean back to the edge of the park.

Probably the most erratic of Saturday’s bill, AC screamed melodic misfits, while legions interpreted it with hybrid dances…which always evolved into a type of high-knee rain shimmy.  And just when the evening was ripe with transcendent grooves about, people just completely enjoying where there muscles would take them, Pfork had to go and commit non-unity act number two, by literally cutting the song short.

There was a ten o’ clock curfew to enforce.

Back to Nic Offer’s comment: I believe that’s something both the kids present and critics are privy to – lameness.

Stay tuned for Day Three for redemption…

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