Chicago — Every music festival has its undesirable day, and Saturday was that for the Pitchfork Music Festival. Day 2 at Chicago’s Union Park was a slow burning ode to thoughtful singer-songwriters, headliners Fleet Foxes included. And even though there seemed to be a bigger crowd than Friday, it was a distracted audience.
Fleet Foxes threw down the day’s most focused set, a harmony-filled exploration of sunny, anachronistic pop. If you’re into the band’s many charms, it was a lovely collection of songs from their first couple releases – including the once ubiquitous staple “White Winter Hymnal.”
After a couple years of hard touring, road-testing their intricate live show, the band makes it look effortless. And the audience – which was the largest gathered crowd of the festival so far – ate it up. But the sound could have actually been louder. At times, it was hard to feel the beat if you were standing beyond the soundboard.
The highlight from Day 2 was a body-rocking set from DJ Shadow, who crafted a rump-shaking set from the not-quite-festival-ready Shadowsphere – a partial globe that houses he and his gear. Playing well before sunset in the white ball, the effect wasn’t as potent as it would be in a dark club with proper lighting – something he acknowledged at the end of the set.
Still Shadow’s mixes and turntablism were masterful, both artful and banging. As he brought his set to a close with “Organ Donor,” he proved his merit as a festival favorite. Whereas mellow sets from Thurston Moore and others fell flat on Friday, festivals thrive on acts that make you move – and Shadow did just that.
On the mellow-band note, Destroyer can be as chill as anybody in the game. But frontman Dan Bejar smartly played an upbeat set with a beefy line-up that included a sax player on Saturday. The band was tight as they worked through a punchy set that included “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker” and others.
Twin Shadow played a surprisingly straightforward set, failing to really bring in the crowd. And the festival continued its penchant for off-the-wall second-to-last bookings with Zola Jesus, a Midwestern woman and her band going for (and occasionally missing) the whole P.J. Harvey aesthetic.
The Pitchfork Festival wraps today with sets from TV on the Radio and HEALTH.
Reverb polls editor Joe Murphy is a web developer in the Denver Post newsroom. He also heads up the Denver Bicycle Water Balloon Jousting League (DBWBJL). You can find him on twitter at @denverpostjoe.