Concert Review: Day 3 of the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival (Sunday, 7/15/12 in Union Park)

Concert Review: Day 3 of the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival (Sunday, 7/15/12 in Union Park)

For the first time all weekend, concertgoers took in live music on three stages Sunday without the threat of rain as Beach House, Chavez, Vampire Weekend and more closed out day three of the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park on Chicago's west side...

Finally, a day at Pitchfork with no rain.  Concert grounds dried up nicely in the overnight hours and surprisingly, Union Park was, for the most part, free of mud and quite easily navigable (a drastic departure from conditions on Saturday afternoon).  However, the lack of rain brought the highest temperatures of the weekend though that didn't seem to bother what felt like the biggest crowds of the entire fest (despite the fact that Saturday was the only day of the festival sold out in advance).

Massive crowds swarmed the Blue Stage Sunday as word got around that Lady Gaga would be performing with Kendrick Lamar.  If you count smoking a cigarette and dancing off to the side as a "performance" than you'd be one of the few not disappointed by Lady Gaga's "performance."  I for one skipped the set entirely opting instead to explore Flatstock; the largest single collection of concert posters you're likely to ever find for sale in one place at one time.  I purchased a cool Ryan Duggan poster promoting the Hideout's 2012 South By Southwest Send Off Party as well as Son Volt and Dawes prints and chose to pass on a poster prominently featuring a shirtless Tom Jones... but I digress.  Ultimately, I missed entirely too much live music in the process of scouring each and every booth but it was all worth it in the end.

Onto the music...

Real Estate (Green Stage) - I got a much later start on Sunday than I did the rest of the weekend as I explored more fully all of the festival grounds.  In the process, I missed bands that I really wanted to see like Iceage, Thee Oh Sees and The Men.

But I did catch Real Esate and for that I'm grateful.

The band meandered casually through its set, drawing out songs instrumentally in a very mellow manner.

Jangly and guitar driven pop, Real Estate at times reminded me of later era R.E.M. and their music was a good way of easing my way back into the Pitchfork grind.

Chavez (Red Stage) - Definitely a pretty light crowd in attendance for Chavez.  Which is a shame because they were great.

Culling from influences that to me sound like they could range anywhere from Soundgarden to Dinosaur Jr., the band rocked in a manner that most of the weekend's artists did not.

Former Zwan member Matt Sweeney put the band back together for this and other performances even though they haven't released an album since 1996.  Despite the layoff, this straight forward, guitar driven rock didn't sound dated at all and Chavez delivered one of, if not the strongest performances of Pitchfork 2012.

Beach House (Red Stage) - I wasn't sure how the mellow, keyboard heavy sounds would translate in the massive festival setting but I was pleasantly surprised as Victoria Legrand's keys and vocals came across nicely.

The band created lush soundscapes and at times I was reminded of early, poppier Sinéad O'Connor.

"Myth" sounded great as the crowd began turning toward the Green Stage.  Perhaps my favorite random observation of the festival came Sunday during Beach House's set when a concertgoer near me suddenly exclaimed that she felt "Myth" sounds a lot like Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face"... and quite frankly, that's not the craziest thing that I heard on Sunday.

Vampire Weekend (Green Stage) - Returning to Pitchfork following a slot earlier in the day in 2008, Vampire Weekend headlined Sunday and closed out the 2012 festival.

I'm not a huge Vampire Weekend fan.  It's not that I dislike them... I could just kind of take them or leave them.

So this was my first time seeing the band live.  And I have to admit, they delivered an energetic set of their upbeat brand of indie rock and the massive crowd expressed its immense approval repeatedly.

No banter and no introduction, the band bounded onstage launching directly into a raucous version of "Cousins" that seemed to take many concertgoers by surprise coming not long after the finale of Beach House's set just west on the Red Stage.  The tempo remained quick as hits like "Holiday" and "A-Punk" came quickly.

But it was the slightly more subdued moments of the set that impressed me.  Chris Tomson's drumming on "Horchata" was excellent but my favorite moment was an overlooked gem from 2010's Contra in "Giving up the Gun."  Ezra Koenig's vocals were outstanding and the track remains a real step forward in term's of songwriting for Vampire Weekend.

Photo by Zachary James Johnston
Photo by Zachary James Johnston

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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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