Today in Music: Put a ‘Fork in it!

Dan Deacon at Pitchfork Music Festival 7/15/07
photo by Mark C. Austin

Is there news without Pitchfork? A glance at this weekend’s newsfeeds proves not so much. The typically sparse selection of headlines was even more so, thanks to the three-day Pitchfork Music Festival, which gathered a dizzying array of musical acts, like The New Pornographers, Cat Power, Iron & Wine, Battles, Dan Deacon, Fujiya and Miyagi, and a whole lot more. Friday night’s sold out crowd witnessed three full-album performances with ATL’s Don’t Look Back series, featuring Sonic Youth playing Daydream Nation, GZA playing Liquid Swords, and Slint playing Spiderland. So I guess you can see why the folks at Pitchfork were busy.

For early coverage of the event, check out The Stranger’s Line Out, More Cowbell and Stereogum, who give the festival an 8.7!

On the ‘Tube, the first round of videos are trickling in, enough to give you a taste of what you missed:

The New Pornographers open up their Sunday set, which mixed in a few new songs, with this exuberant number:

This clip of Cat Power is cut a bit short, but the stellar sound and close proximity make you see why she’s “The Greatest”:

Portland’s Menomena get weirdly funky with these two songs:

If you ever wanted to see what Grizzly Adams would look like channeling Thom Yorke, check out this fantastic clip of Sam Beam of Iron & Wine covering “No Surprises”:

The ever-haunting lyricism of Grizzly Bear:

The sound on this video is pretty bad, but if you want to know what it’s like to witness a Dan Deacon show (and, yes, you should want to), this is about as close as it gets without actually being there:

The crowd at Sonic Youth‘s performance was reportedly one of the rowdiest, and you can definitely jostle along with the fans in this video of “Teenage Riot”:

The bad: this mercifully short clip brings up bad memories of seeing Yoko Ono howling underneath a sheet on stage beside John Lennon, just before he split from The Beatles. The good: it features Thurston Moore.

Once the Pitchfork staff shake off their hangovers and come back to work, we’ll have more headlines for you.

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  1. softdog
    Posted July 16, 2007 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Pitchfork organizers got very lucky with the good weather and well behaved crowds, because they got a lot closer to a fiasco than they realized, especially on the third stage, which I have the inside scoop about what a near disaster that was.

    I was satisfied by people watching, the poster festival and crafts and record fair. I also brought plenty of money for food. If you came only for the music and were on a tight budget, the experience would have been somewhat disappointing to infuriating.

    The sound for most acts was barely adequate to awful. If you weren’t in the VIP area or close to the stage, you experienced bands playing their hearts out while sounding like AM radio. It’s no excuse to say this is typical festival sound – Chicago has great sound at many of its outdoor events, because most of them use a seasoned group of professionals. Pitchfork didn’t and while the crew they had worked hard, they didn’t have the necessary resources.

    The third stage revealed how Pitchfork has a ways to go in organizing. I know the people who crewed the stage, and they were very frustrated at what an unpleasant task they found themselves working on.

    This stage was set up in a narrow area between two immoble fences located at the end of the concession stands. There were only two openings in this fence which were frequently blocked by crowd congestion.

    The stage also had woefully inadequate sound, which the presence of many bodies only dampened further. Plus the equipment had multiple technical breakdowns which were difficult to fix.

    Thus everyone was constantly pushing forward to hear. Even before the major acts played gridlock was a problem, with people unable to get close to the stage or leave.

    Once acts with big followings came on, it became a major claustrophobic hazard. Had the day been any hotter, or the crowds any less well behaved, the main story out of Pitchfork would have been sick kids, violence or trampling.

    As it was, Dan Deacon put a lot of people at risk by insisting on playing at crowd level, off the stage. He was personable enough to keep the audience with him for a while, but then too many people and press started getting on the stage which caused security to freak out, plus the crowd crush to try and see Dan left many people immobilized and nervous.

    These are the sort of things most journalists didn’t notice, because they got the VIP treatment and favorable listening areas. For the average ticket buyer, however, Pitchfork had noble intentions but dubious execution.

    I mean, the post festival was amazing, but I doubt most people paid for tickets to see posters.

  2. Posted July 17, 2007 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    dan deacon is my hero.

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