Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

festivals

New York Represents at Pitchfork Music Fest

DOOM in Chicago this weekend.

Within the summer-fest circuit, the Pitchfork Music Festival — which went down for the fourth year in a row this weekend in Chicago’s Union Park — is a member in junior standing: While the likes of Coachella and Bonnaroo trot out arena rockers of all stripes and colors, Pitchfork is the kind of place where the cultishly beloved Idahoans Built to Spill are a legitimate headliner.

The smaller scale made not only for a more manageable experience for the attendees, but a more surreal experience for the artists: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s front man Kip Berman was visibly and vocally amazed at the masses that had formed to see his band at 3:20 in the afternoon. Amidst bountiful self-conscious hair tussles and thank-yous, Berman and co. churned through their set with a kick that's missing from their easygoing self-titled debut.

They weren’t the only New Yorkers to acquit themselves well in the Midwest. In fact, an impressive 13 of the fest’s 40 acts were affiliated with the greater New York area; that hearty nod of approval, coming as it does from the national arbiter of indie-rockdom relevancy, is definitely a good sign for the vitality of the local scene. Calling it a “scene,” though, is misleading: The list of acts holding it down for NYC — including Matt & Kim, DJ/Rupture, and Vivian Girls — have, sonically speaking, pretty much nothing to do with each other.

Our favorite part of the weekend, however, had nothing to do with music. It came after an appearance by Atlanta via Long Island’s DOOM, in and of itself a notable event — the always-masked emcee, who doesn’t perform live much anyway, has been known to send impostors in his stead. (Also, he apparently only went on after receiving his performance fee, up front, in cash.)

Not as impressive were Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear — the four-part harmonies and woodwind solos (was that a bassoon?) were as pretty, and as tepid, as on the record. Fellow locals the National, Saturday’s headliners, were also a letdown: Their brooding mini-epics would seem to make them Pitchfork’s most likely candidates for senior-circuit summer-fest headliners, but their overlong set suggested they’re not there yet.

Far better during the National’s set were the sloppy Atlanta punk-rockers Black Lips, playing the back stage; in between failing to incite riots (“everyone jump onstage — if it’s just two of [you] it won’t work, but if everyone does it they can’t stop you”), they bashed through their set on full speed. Balls-to-the-walls rockers were actually in short supply, so hyper performances from Vancouver’s Japandroids and Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit — with guitar-flinging front man Brian King and manic drummer Grant Hutchison, respectively — were some of the best of the fest.

Our favorite part of the weekend, however, had nothing to do with music. It came after an appearance by Atlanta via Long Island’s DOOM, in and of itself a notable event — the always-masked emcee, who doesn’t perform live much anyway, has been known to send impostors in his stead. (Also, he apparently only went on after receiving his performance fee, up front, in cash.)

Decked out in Chewbacca-like sniper-camouflage gear and his customized Nike Dunks, DOOM ran through the bounciest tracks from his lengthy back catalogue, including a few choice cuts from the classic Madvilliany. And when it was over, we scrambled backstage hoping for an interview, or at least a glimpse of his face. Instead we ran into a big-ass car waiting at the very entrance of the artist’s area for DOOM, mask and all, to slip into unencumbered and drive, chauffeured, away, presumably back into the subterranean lair he calls home.

Photo: Getty Images