Concert Review: Day 2 of the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival (Saturday, 7/14/12 in Union Park)

Concert Review: Day 2 of the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival (Saturday, 7/14/12 in Union Park)

Grimes, Wild Flag, Hot Chip and more all performed (often in the rain) across three stages as day two of the Pitchfork Music Festival continued Saturday in rainy Union Park on Chicago's west side...

Great performances once again on day two of Pitchfork but the real story Saturday was the rain.

Like Friday, rain fell twice on Saturday and finally Union Park had enough.  On Friday, recent drought like conditions kept festival grounds fairly dry despite the rainfall but Saturday was a different story entirely.  The heaviest rainfall of the weekend created extremely muddy conditions (especially in the shared area between the Red and Green Stages).  The north end of the park, near the Red Stage was extremely muddy.

All of that said, concertgoers took the weather in stride and by about 5PM, rain had ended for the day (and hopefully the weekend).  It will be interesting to see what happens if it rains again on Sunday.

Onto the music...

Cloud Nothings (Red Stage) - I got a late start on Saturday and was disappointed to miss The Atlas Moth's day opening set.  But Cloud Nothings made up for that.

Rare is the punk band that expresses jam band tendencies in the live setting.  But Cloud Nothings did, stretching out several songs instrumentally to several minutes in length.  The rain was no match for the rock.

Lotus Plaza (Blue Stage) - The vocals of Lockett Pundt actually remind me a bit of those of James frontman Tim Booth.

Clearly influenced by new wave, there was also a hint of shoegazer as a droning, almost My Bloddy Valentine like guitar took place in the background despite the more upbeat tempo of the songs.

Despite Pundt's work in Deerhunter, I was unfamiliar with Lotus Plaza going in and really enjoyed their set.

Cults (Red Stage) - Cults may have been my favorite artist of day two.

On record, Madeline Follin's voice is accompanied at one point by Jonestwon leader Jim Jones.  So there's an interesting dichotomy here between sunny and dark.

Surprisingly, the band managed to pull that off live without coming off cheesy.  Follin's vocals are sugary sweet and surrounded by keyboards and xylophone the influence of Phil Spector produced, sixties girl groups is clear.

Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, Brian Oblivion threatened the storms, advising them to stay away and, miraculously, they did for the rest of the day.  There was no band at Pitchfork better suited to usher the sun back in than Cults.

Wild Flag (Red Stage) - After missing appearances in the last year at both Empty Bottle and Metro, Wild Flag was definitely one of the bands I was most excited to see at Pitchfork.

The crowd didn't seem terribly into the set which was strange, though to be fair Wild Flag definitely felt like the type of band at Pitchfork that would be a better fit for a club than an outdoor festival.

That said, girl power was in full effect as Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony, Janet Weiss and Rebecca Cole rocked out more in the live setting than on record.  Striking poses with their guitars high in the air, the band was certainly the closest thing to "rockstars" that I saw in the first two days of the festival.

Keyboards carried "Romance," giving the performance a swagger and I thoroughly enjoyed Wild Flag's set.

Sleigh Bells (Green Stage) - Alexis Krauss sang from atop the outstretched hands of concertgoers following an early stage dive.

The guitars were cutting, and probably even slightly overemphasized for the large festival crowd, as they accompanied the vocals and drum machine beats.  Electro pop at its finest and most fun.

Chromatics (Blue Stage) - Once again, the Blue Stage was running a bit behind schedule as Chromatics took the stage late.  The volume was extremely low so between that and the late start, I didn't stick around long (though I'm told I missed a Kate Bush cover so maybe I should've stuck it out a bit longer).

Hot Chip (Red Stage) - The crowd was absolutely insane for this band, dancing basically nonstop throughout the set.  This was the best crowd that I've seen so far in the first two days at Pitchfork.

Live guitar, but especially the live drumming, really fueled their performance.

"One Life Stand" was contagiously fun in the live setting.  I could hear everything from Yaz to New Order and even some disco in this music.  Toward the end of the set, Hot Chip even did their best Christine McVie on a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere."

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    Jim Ryan

    Jim Ryan has written about music in print and online for a variety of Chicagoland publications for over fifteen years. In addition to duties filling in as Traffic Anchor on CLTV or in the helicopter on NBC 5, you can also catch him Sunday nights at 6PM central as host of "The Rock N' Roll Radio Program" on AM 1420 WIMS and AM 1060 WHFB (streaming at wimsradio.com and via the TuneIn Radio app for the smart phone or tablet). Jim has also worked locally for WXRT-FM, lives within walking distance of the Metro and is an avid White Sox and Blackhawks fan whose first live concert experience came at Comiskey Park in 1984 during the Jacksons' "Victory" tour.

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