Photograph courtesy of SeeTheLeaves

Last weekend the seventh annual Pitchfork Music Festival came pretty close to entirely selling out its arsenal of tickets. An estimated 60,000 people attended the three-day music festival at Union Park, but the so-called Pitchfork Weekend fun also extended beyond the park’s borders onto the interwebs via the Pitchfork.tv YouTube channel as well as in two of Chicago’s notable venues. Last Thursday, a show featuring Beat Connection, White Arrows, and Teen Daze took place at Schubas, one of a number of air conditioned Pitchfork afterparty shows there and at Lincoln Hall this past weekend.

Following an afternoon of crowds and face-melting sunshine at the Taste of Chicago, my friend and I were more than happy to take a seat at Schubas and let a belly full of delicious food mingle with an ice cold whiskey & coke. Solo-ambient act Teen Daze came on first, opening with his latest single “Trenten” from his most recent album, All of Us, Together. In the flesh Teen Daze was a nice guy from Vancouver named Jamison telling us how glad he was to be performing in Chicago for the first time.

The heavy reverb of his bass (as mentioned in my album review) was almost palpable in the tiny venue space, and it was at times difficult to tell if people were dancing to that or to the much smoother rhythms of Teen Daze’s music. He played songs from All of Us, Together, but also improvised and tied in a few older tracks. Much of the Jamison/Teen Daze’s performance consisted of the usual DJ knob-turning and synchronized bouncing up and down, but the crowd was digging it. They bobbed their heads, danced to every song, and gave enthusiastic applause. However, for me the best and most passionate part of the set came at the end when Jamison sang over his track and DJed simultaneously. It was at this time that he really started to open up as an individual instead of just as an anonymous. His voice was pretty and appropriate and I kind of wish he would have incorporated more singing into the set. Perhaps this was an example of one guy walking the DJ-musician-singer line.

Though I attended this show to see Teen Daze to see how his live show compared to the album, I stayed for the other two bands in order to get my Pitchfork fix. I was too snobby (and poor, perhaps) to attend this year, feeling bored with the lineup and disillusioned with Pitchfork’s tastes in general. On the one hand, this tiny slice of Pitchfork 2012 fulfilled my expectations of where their tastes currently are, but, like in Teen Daze’s show, there were also some surprises.

The second act, White Arrows, came off like a wannabe modern-day Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, but with less consistent vocals. However, by the middle of their set they had me on their side. Ironically, this came after their cover of the Springsteen song “I’m on Fire”. I’m probably one of the few people in America who finds Springsteen to be blahhh, but this White Arrow cover made his music not only palatable to me, but actually quite likable.

The next few songs were also pretty great, and got me to appreciate the band’s musicianship. For instance, the guitarist and bassist exchanged instruments for a while, which provided a nice change of pace. Although, the band’s clean-cut drummer’s ridiculous skills stole the show. As for the headliner of this show, Beat Connection, I don’t think I had the same moments of realization or tolerance as I had for the opening acts. They sounded like a blend of the first two bands. There was nothing “bad” about their music, but their energy was sorely lacking. Or maybe they reminded me too much of Passion Pit, who I’ve always thought were just aight. Or maybe I’m just crabby and convinced of the mediocre, limbo state of the music of today. But at the very least I cannot complain about air conditioning and some bands giving me a bit of hope.

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