Pitchfork Fest ’09: Do You Realize??

July 21st, 2009: As seen on Archive (PDF)

Wayne Coyne and his bubble, albeit always entertaining, was the outlier of Pitchfork’s pushing stride of excellence. First of all, Lollapalooza just pulled that card a few years back.  Second, a 10 p.m. curfew for an was doomed to be unsatisfying. Whatever. Forgiven. The bar on festivals has been raised, before anyone could even get in to Union Park at 1 p.m.

There were collaborations (The Mae Shi and Kid Static), French end-of-the-world dance parties (M83), drummers surrounded in Plexiglass shields, alternative-nation nostalgia (The Thermals), the ethos of emo-shred (Japandroids), a classic rock power hour (Blitzen Trapper), brooding guitars galore with too many Fender strats to count (Frightened Rabbit, The Walkmen, Women, Grizzly Bear), a token “fuck you” hip-hop chant (Pharoahe Monch), and seriously not one belligerent drunk to ruin the painting.

As observed on Saturday, “affirmation” was the word of the weekend.  A show’s only as good as its audience, and taking a handful of acts literally out of their garage element was a gamble, but also a shining nod to P4K’s promoters. Maybe ignorance is bliss, but when a five-year-old child air-guitars with aviator earmuffs aside a forty-year-old father legitimately doing the same thing, that is more than affirmation.

And it was realized everywhere on Sunday, from the reciprocated punk yelps of The Mae Shi at festival kick-off, to the wonderfully twisted stabs of Women’s Velvet Underground folk. Even, I guess, to Coyne and his “She Don’t Use Jelly” sing-a-long, which was probably first assembled in a garage as well.

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