Pitchfork Music Festival 2011: Final Photos, Thoughts

TV on the Radio @ Pitchfork Music Festival 2011

I just noticed that we got a request for my TV on the Radio photos from the Pitchfork Music Festival, so I thought I’d post those along with my other remaining photos, and try to wrap things up with some comments about my experience this past weekend.

We’ve already posted photos from most of my key highlights of the weekend, including Battles, Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, and Deerhunter. Battles — now stripped down to a core power trio — seriously tore things up during their Friday afternoon slot, freaking out some of the P-fork crowd by offering up a genre-bending display of electronics, effects-pedal pyrotechnics, and driving beats. Animal Collective also delivered another one of the more challenging sets of the weekend, playing only a few of their “hits” and instead focusing entirely on new material. At times, I’ll admit it was almost too much for me, but I dig their audacity to come out hard with the new material, and I found some of the new tunes to be entrancing and very interesting to my ears. I can’t wait to hear how some of these end up sounding on an official studio release. Another big highlight for me was Fleet Foxes, who took an entirely different approach from AC, hitting on all the key tunes from their last few releases and practically putting on a spiritual revival for the indie-folk congregation. And I already mentioned my take on Deerhunter’s set in some detail, but I was also thoroughly impressed with Cut Copy, who put on all-out dance party with what I can best characterize as a throwback to 80s new wave mixed with euro synth pop (as it happens, they’re Aussies).

Which brings me to the first of three trends I took away from the festival as a whole…

1) Apparently, we will forever “Love the 80s”
There are so many bands still tapping that 80s electro oeuvre that I’m amazed we haven’t seen a huge influx of 80s band reunion tours. oh, wait….

2) A sampler, laptop, a mic…and some talent
Apparently that’s all you need to rock the festival crowd these days. If you thought the trend of disappearing drummers and guitarists was just in the live electronic jam scene, think again. I saw Baths (one dude) rock a crowd of thousands on the Blue stage. While he’s got a decent sound and wasn’t bad, it’s the sheer lack of stage presence and performance from these guys that kill me. What exactly am I watching here? A dude tweak buttons on a sampler and lean over a laptop. Oh, but he sang…a little.

3) “Indie Rock” bands that “jam”
Between the stretched-out sets by Deerhunter and Woods, and the fade-out and segue-heavy flow of Animal Collective’s show, we’re seeing a lot more improv coming from bands that I doubt too many people would label “jambands.” I love this trend, not only for the actual music, but also in the way it allows us to keep poking holes at the “jamband” terminology and what it actually means for bands to improvise. For a well-written take on this topic, definitely check out Rob Mitchum’s recent post On “jamband,” jamming, and genres, which thoughtfully and concisely summarizes a lot of my same thoughts on the subject.

Check out my remaining photos from the Pitchfork Music festival below:

For the full festival set, head on over the flickr.