Pitchfork Music Festival: Saturday

We catch Panda Bear, Titus Andronicus, and Free Energy at Pitchfork's Saturday line up

Saturday was yet another hot, hot day at Pitchfork, but that didn't stop the day's bands from bringing the big guns to their set.  For those who decided to stay indoors, we bring you our thoughts on Saturday's line-up.


Free Energy: What better way to start Saturday than with Free Energy’s sun-drenched pop songs?  It was a tough choice between these Phili rockers and Chicago’s own Netherfriends but when it came to jump starting your morning Free Energy won.  The band brought all their energy (no pun intended) to their 1 pm slot at Pitchfork, surprising people waiting for LCD Soundsystem with their hook-driven songs.  Free Energy is a band that isn’t doing anything new with their music or genre, but what they are doing is in keeping with the style.  Tight rhythmic guitar beats, soaring harmonies, and quick guitar riffs littered their set offering viewers a blast from the past.  No one can sound more like Thin Lizzy or a less-perverted AC/DC than Free Energy.  The band played tracks from their 2010 release Stuck on Nothing including “Free Energy” and “Bang Pop” which prompted some major fist pumping from the crowd.  It was just enough sugary sweet songs to get the body moving in the early afternoon.

Sonny & the Sunsets: Speaking of sugary sweet songs, Sonny & the Sunsets offered up their vintage pop jams to audiences at the Balance stage next.  Where Free Energy is high energy glam pop, Sonny & the Sunsets is 50s and 60s doo-wop, soul, and surfer music with sweet vocals and a tambourine.  At this point of the day the heat was reaching ridiculous numbers.  It was nice to take a break from the beat in the shade of the Balance stage, lounge on the grass, and watch Sonny Smith and his motley crew of oldies pop junkies play their hearts out.  I have a major weakness to male/female vocals.  Something about how a commanding male voice intertwines with the delicate power of a woman’s voice makes my heart skip a beat.  Smith and back-up singer Tahlia Harbour’s voices have this same dynamic that made their set that much more charming.  I would have much preferred to see Sonny & the Sunsets in a small venue than a huge outdoor festival but it was still a great midday set.

Titus Andronicus: I’m not sure if Titus Andronicus named themselves after the Shakespearean play, but I certainly hope so.  My good friend Wikipedia directed me to a quote about the Shakespearean play from critic S. Clarke Hulse who says Titus Andronicus includes "14 killings, 9 of them on stage, 6 severed members, 1 rape (or 2 or 3, depending on how you count), 1 live burial, 1 case of insanity and 1 of cannibalism--an average of 5.2 atrocities per act, or one for every 97 lines."  The band of course didn’t perform any of these vile acts on stage.  However if you read Dominick’s review of Titus Andronicus’s set at the SubT the night previous you would know that this same visceral energy is in their performance.  I’ve never seen a true punk band grace the line-up of Pitchfork except for Jesus Lizard last year.  Titus Andronicus is punk through and through, but they know when to add a touch of the softer stuff when they need to.  “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future” ripped the audience apart, rising everyone to chant “You will always be a loser” above the constant murmur of the festival.  Then a song or two later the band brought out a cello and violin to join the band.  Singer Patirck Stickles has the snarl of a young Johnny Rotten and the energy of the Modern Lovers and it’s awesome.  I now understand all the hype around this band.  It’s true east coast, blue collar music that can expand the punk genre over the three minute mark.

Wolf Parade: After hitting the wall so to speak in the middle of the day, I crawled out of the press tent to catch Wolf Parade.  Their latest album Expo 86 didn’t impress me too much, and neither did their set.  Granted I wasn’t right up on the stage watching and analyzing every move they made up there.  They frankly just add nothing new than what you can hear on their album.  It’s the same argument I made with Broken Social Scene on Friday but I like Broken Social Scene more.  There is nothing wrong with Wolf Parade but I feel like the sound they’re working in is a little played out.  That staccato vocal style is old.  Musically the band was pretty on point throughout their set but it wasn’t enough to turn me from being a fair-weather fan into anything else.  Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’m just tired of the trendy indie rock bands.

Panda Bear: I bash Animal Collective a lot.  Panda Bear’s a different story.  Generally speaking I’ve liked Panda Bear’s recorded work.  It’s not “weird for the sake of weird” like I feel Animal Collective can be.  It’s an ethereal flow of chimes and chants weaving in and out of your ears.  Now I haven’t listened to anything from Panda Bear’s upcoming release Tomboy.  Perhaps his style has changed.  His set at Pitchfork was a little harder than I expected it to be but that’s probably a good thing.  Playing tracks from Person Pitch would have put the semi-dehydrated, semi-drunk people into a stupor.  I rather liked the stuff he was playing during his set, but it didn’t seem fitting sandwiched in between Wolf Parade and Freddy Gibbs, who was playing the Balance stage on the other side of the festival.  It was more of a wrong slot at the wrong time type of dilemma.  Panda Bear would have been great right after WHY?’s set.  Luckily Panda Bear has enough die hard fans and potheads that kept his set time packed.

LCD Soundsystem: Do I really need to say anything about LCD Soundsystem?  People love them, people dance to them, they make laser noises on stage.  For a closer, they’re the best band to pick.  They rallied up the troops after the sun went down into a foot stomping frenzy, grabbing people’s attention with their electronic beats.  I left the festival early but I heard through Twitter and the blogosphere (yeah I used that word) that LCD Soundsystem ended their set on a downer note, the same complaint I heard about their set at the Metro just months before.  What’s the deal LCD Soundsystem?  You make the audience dance their pants off and then bring them down with sad bastard music?  For shame.

Check back on the site for our interviews with Saturday performers Free Energy, Sonny & the Sunsets, Netherfriends, and WHY? later in the week.

Posted by Amy Dittmeier on Jul 18, 2010 @ 9:09 am

pitchfork music festival, free energy, sonny and the sunsets, panda bear, wolf parade, lcd soundsystem, titus andronicus