If you managed to snag a 3-day pass to Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 before they sold out – good for you! If you didn’t, buying scalped tickets is only a crime if you get caught! Lucky for you, there are STILL TICKETS available for Friday, the first of Pitchfork’s three days, and there are going to be some ill bands playing, so if you’ve got some extra plata to mine out of your wallet, I say go for it.
Yeah, so it’s last minute and maybe you don’t know all the artists. Fear not! There is a logical way to solve this problem, with a little bit of quick, incredibly-biased education and imaginary band-battling from yours truly.
ROUND 1: A good band vs. getting out of work early
The first act of the year, Hundred Waters (Red Stage @ 3:30), may have just signed to Skrillex’s label OWSLA, but the only thing their music shares with mainstream dubstep is its intoxicating predilection for grooving on the half-steps – and who can’t dig that? They also offer sweet, airy vocals, chorused and harmonized beneath minimalist melodies that don’t get lost even while meandering over warped bass lines and percussion.
See Hundred Waters if you like: rhythm-heavy pop; Moby-era ambient electronic; late-era Radiohead; mid-era AIR; downtempo; shit that sounds classical and jazzy but new
WINNER OF ROUND 1: Hundred Waters, by default – but they are great, so sneak out of work early!
ROUND 2: Club vs. Soul
Factory Floor (Blue Stage @ 4:15) picks up the tempo to London nightclub pace – another band that could have been badass to see at night. Quick, repetitive avant-garde rhythms drive the music forward. Starting twenty minutes later is Neneh Cherry with Rocketnumbernine (Green Stage @ 4:35), whose raw sound conjures the soul of 80s hip-hop and girl groups but adds a layer of soul so thick and cool you’ll want to drown in it and a catalog of percussive influences your head will spin.
See Factory Floor if you like: industrial dance; disco-y beats but FASTER; avant-garde dub; dancing while on ecstasy in the middle of the day; pretending you’re in the movie 24 Hour Party People
See Neneh Cherry if you like: MIA-type beats/grime/attitude; old school hip hop; Aaliyah-like smooth vocals; pretending you’re listen to future-music from after the world ends
WINNER OF ROUND 2: Neneh Cherry, for originality and attitude.
Round 3: Darkness vs. Mourning
London-based producer known as The Haxan Cloak (Blue Stage @ 5:15) makes sounds like the dread of the apocalypse or of hell on earth. Booming, vibrating bass intertwine with ethereal hallucinations of vocals. Nothing is absolute. Starting shortly thereafter is a quite distinct artist, Sharon Van Etten (Red Stage @ 5:30) who is a singer-songwriter to end all singer-songwriters (meaning that in a good way…). Her latest album Are We There is contemplative and lovely, sad yet sweet – the epitome of Van Etten’s sound.
See The Haxen Cloak if you like: dark, muddy sounds, amazing yet fucked up noises that build onto one another until the end of eternity; thinking about existence, listening to and/or explaining why Godspeed You! Black Emperor is amazing; death…?
See Sharon Van Etten if you like: amazing folk-rock songs and beautiful vocals that kind of make you want to cry; some truth to be laid on you; Fleetwood Mac and by that I mean Stevie Nicks’s; cruising with the windows down with the wind blowing in your hair
Winner of Round 3: Sharon Van Etten, for THIS SONG, AND ALSO ALL OF HER SONGS:
Round 4: Future R&B vs. Present Americana
Member of fellow Pitchfork-ian Kendriick Lamar’s crew is SZA (Blue Stage 6:15), an artist who is an expert in writing jams and belting them out. Taking notes from everyone from old school R&B-ers to jazz crooners, SZA’s tracks are as smooth as they are groovy and sexy as they are funky. (Wait, those are all synonyms; oh, well.) Starting soon thereafter is Sun Kil Moon (Green Stage @ 6:25) whose catalog of melancholy but not blues-y music is awesome and extensive. The latest record Benji just knocks it out of the park completely and would be a delight to see live.
See SZA if you like: late-era Motown; psychedelic n’ funktastic guitar licks; Billie
See Sun Kil Moon if you like: beautiful storytelling lyrics, tumbleweeds, lightly-country influenced but actually alternative rock,
Winner of Round 4: Really close call…but might have to go with SZA, because hot damn.
Round 5: Slash Brother vs. Disco Father
The first band to play in the dusk hours is Animal Collective’s Dave Porter’s side project Avey Tare Slasher Flicks (Blue Stage @ 7:15), an apple who doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but puts out some good tunes. Starting almost at the same time is a so called Godfather of Disco, Giorgio Morodero (Red Stage @ 7:20) whose influence on disco and all its thousands of sub- and post-genres cannot be understated. Dancing in the dark, anyone?
See Avey Tare Slasher Flicks if you like: the thought of Animal Collective having a baby with some pop star; Islands; doing acid, probably?
See Giorgio Moroder if you like: disco; also, disco; and then some more disco; Kraftwerk; space musaak
Winner of Round 5: Giorgio Moroder because space disco
Round 6: BECK
Beck may be some kind of crazy scientologist, but dude can produce some great ass music and do his own thing. Being somewhere in between completely dorky and the kind of un-self-aware that makes a person invincible, Beck is a prolific musician, damn good songwriter and forever-amateur rapper who takes influences from blues, hip hop and everything in between, writing about everything from the state of the human condition to his awkward observations.
See Beck if you like: to hear genres blend flawlessly together, catchy songs; hearing weird white boys sing “Soooooy un perdedor” or “Qué onda, güero”
Winner of Round 6: Scientology; your ears