Fleet Foxes, DJ Shadow killed the Pitchfork Music Festival Saturday - Reverb

Live review: Pitchfork Music Festival Day 2, featuring Fleet Foxes, DJ Shadow, Destroyer, Twin Shadow, Zola Jesus and others

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.

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and executive editor of Reverb, the co-founder of The UMS and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post.

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.

  • One opinion…

    Not to be a dick, but these reviews are kind of lame. They just don’t really give me an idea of what the fest was like at all. Are those really all the acts you caught that day? I know you haven’t reviewed day three yet, but THIS is a review: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/turnitup/chi-greg-kot-reviews-day-3-of-the-pitchfork-music-festival-2011-20110717,0,7270854.story
    Love Reverb, just doesn’t seem like it’s a legitimate national blog like some of the others out there. Seems too small and local sometimes. Show reviews are often too short and lack important details that true music fans care about. Would anyone not from Denver (want to) read this post? Maybe that’s not the point, but it kind of sucks that Reverb writers go to something as awesome as the Pitchfork fest and I feel as though I have to go somewhere else to read about it. (There’s probably some inside details I don’t know about, like those other guys get paid more, or you’re only allowed a certain amount of words maybe?) I don’t really know, just one loyal readers opinion. Overall, keep up the good work!

    • http://www.denvereverb.com Ricardo Baca

      We’re always up for conversations like these. Reverb reviews are shorter for a reason. Most readers aren’t up for long articles online. Some are, and we’re thankful for them, as many of the features we write are longer. (See recent features on Tennis, Adam Cayton-Holland and Ha Hau, the founder of the Global Dance Festival.) But as far as reviews go, we’ve learned over much experimentation that the majority of the people won’t even likely finish a 300-word review. And so we try to capture moments that moved us – or moments that should have moved us but didn’t. With Pitchfork’s fest, we give you “an idea of what the fest was like” in our review of day 1. Day 2 is a couple moments of music, and day 3 includes a couple moments and some reflection. It’s brief, but not without worth.
      Did we see bands we didn’t write about? Sure. Were they worth it? Not all of them.
      And Greg killed it with his Tribune coverage, but he’s also the hometown guy – and he had help. We didn’t have help. But I think you’ll agree when you see Reverb’s coverage of the upcoming UMS – starting tomorrow and running through Sunday – that we will without question be the site of record. Because we’re the hometown paper, and we’ll have help.Thanks for reading.