Pitchfork Fest ’09: We Miss Being Ruffians

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

Pitchfork’s festival has always fought the good fight to rise above the internet buzz of the now and host emergent, top-notch tuneage. Bursts of unbridled true colors have been spotted the past four years (see fire marshals suppressing the onstage parties of Girl Talk and Dan Deacon), and this year was no exception.

Aside from the media shitstorm that is Wavves, and the photographer-shunning set the duo sludged through mid-afternoon, Saturday was full of affirming sets that left crowds and artists confused. Opener Cymbals Eat Guitars are just starting to see the light outside of their New York garage, and yet could not comprehend how triumphantly they killed the Pavement-ethos of hit single, “And The Hazy Sea.”  Meanwhile, Beirut’s Zach Condon quipped that the audience was the largest his dear ukulele had ever seen, before witnessing a few interesting souls crowd-surf in synch to baroque waltzes from Gulag Orkestar.  

I could ruminate how the music industry is so completely privatized that there will forever be a yearn to communally appreciate artists at large-scale festivals like this. But really, Saturday was Pitchfork concretely evolving into one of the best destination festivals around, complete with every division of taste and tastemaker.

The evolution of the festival has certainly not always been the almighty finger-on-the-pulse. Yoko Ono in 2007? The woman wasted a good half-hour of people’s attention teaching the audience how to say “I love you” with a flashlight. But capped by The National’s brooding, Viking guitar voyages, supported by an ear-to-ear smile session in drum-and-organ pop from Matt and Kim, DOOM’s purebred hip-hop and a retro-punk stage destruction from the Black Lips, Saturday was the sound of attention being rewarded.

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