Travels with Jack, Part 2: Pitchfork Fest '09 Wrap (with lots of pics)

Admittedly, the relentless [image-1]

So that's the scene -- about 20 of us (ages: 35-40) lazily taking in the festival during day followed by way-too-long nights of heavy drinking / mild partying at night. By the end of the weekend, a ringing, unifying consensus had emerged: We're all getting way too fucking old to ride hard for days on end like that. Realization aside -- wow. What a blast!!! I saw some great bands / acts, got plenty of much-needed re-connect time (I hadn't seen some of these fine folks in YEARS!!!), laughed 'til my sides hurt, punished my liver thoroughly and survived to write this little wrap-up piece about it.

While I could easily re-count endless minutiae and I've written up several drafts about what our posse did, all the bars, all the food, all the hi-jinx, and so on & so forth, would likely be lost on y'all. Instead ... I'm just gonna riff on what turned me on about this year's fest. By day - check it:

FRIDAY: Got to the fest just in time for [image-2]her dad's shoulders, maybe 3 years old, who was TOTALLY mouthing along to John McEntire & Jon Herndon's boom-bap ... made me smile ear to ear. One of my fave bands of the last 15+ years, these hometown heroes set the bar pretty high, even if it wasn't the most intense set I've ever seen them play.

Yo La Tengo was next. They came on, did their thing, nice and simple and melodic indie jamming. I guess they've been steadily perfecting that schtick since I first saw them in the early '90s. They probably should've opened.

Most of the crew had congregated by this point, all of us pumped for [image-3]shards of perfectly dischordant guitar. David William Sims laid the bass lines down, complete with his signature lunging head-snap move. And drummer Mac McNeilly had that metronomic and taut attack that kept it all chugging along. Got right up front for the end of the set and their sound was dialed in. They wrapped it up and I was left with the distinct sense that this was, unfortunately, as intense as things were gonna get all weekend ... and I was right. The crew decided to forgo Built To Spill in favor of the Bottom Lounge, and while I kinda would've liked to have stuck around to see BTS, I was uncharacteristically going with the flow. Much much more drinking and silliness ensued.

SATURDAY: The cab dropped us off at [image-4]more than a few jams from All Hour Cymbals. About two-thirds of the way into their set, as one of the new songs started, so did the rain and most of us got a little wet, though that tiny shower subsided just as the band's dancey outro kicked in. It was a pretty darned rave-y moment ... more than a bit ecstatic. Then, the sun came poking through the clouds as they made their way through "Sunrise," almost as if they'd planned the weather. They closed with the aforementioned "Red Cave" and I was content. That being said, their singer needs a little work on his live vocals. All in all, I was extremely pleased with my maiden Yeasayer voyage and I still can't wait to hear their next record.

Doom (formerly known as MF Doom, pictured masked at left) was solid and it was nice to have some hip-hop front and center. But I preferred the small club set I saw him perform years ago. Watched a few of his tunes but was careful to hurry back to smallest stage in time to catch Lindstrøm (pictured at the bottom of the post). This Swedish disco / house producer definitely brought it: relentless thumping four-on-the-floor and Moroder-esque chord progressions. Fantastic stuff. Could've zoned out to him a lot longer than he performed as I was feeling prettay loose by that point. But that was that ... my group was moving on.

Headed to a barbeque at a friend's house, where we drank more beer, ate brats and listened to a healthy dose of Husker DU, Naked Raygun, Descendents, Rites Of Spring, Replacements, etc. Goooood times. The beer ran out and someone came back from a beer run with a bottle of [image-5]("There's too many of us, there's too many of us, there's too many of us..."). The tequila was passed around and, well... I don't remember much past that point.

SUNDAY: While I really wanted to strike out on my own and see DJ/Rupture and The Walkmen (pictured lat left), among various others, the crew was all meeting at Cos' for his birthday grill out. In the end I acquiesced. Brian went big with the grilled meat and veggies, and I plowed through as much of the yumminess as I could manage.

We grabbed another cab (only used my $14 three-day-pass ONCE, on the initial trip from ORD), so as not to miss [image-6]the only other live recording I've listened to that many times is Santana's Lotus. Seriously.) But yeah - they were so good, soooo good. Really makes me wanna travel somewhere to see them in a darker, smaller space where they'll obviously get to play longer. They're on top right now. If you're into dynamic, original music and you haven't checked them out yet -- well, you might wanna rectify that ASAP.

[image-7]at another bar where I randomly bumped into one of my favorite singers ever (Gared O'Donnell [ex-Planes Mistaken For Stars]).

So yeah, there's more but I'll save that for the memoirs. I'm so glad I was able to go (thanks to Joran and Leilani for hooking up the passes for Kevin and I). Seriously -- so happy I got to get away for a few days and enjoy some great live music and some freakishly awesome Chicago weather (I dont think it got hotter than 80 degrees the whole trip) ... but even more importantly, some great friends. Here's hoping you get to do the same sometime real real soon!





Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear.


Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear.


Bassist Kathy Foster of The Thermals


Grizzly Bear


More Flaming Lips


And more ...


And just a little more.

"I'm so blessed to / have spent the time / with my family and the friends I love/ with my short life / I have met so many people I deeply care for"

These final chanted lyrics of Yeasayer's "Red Cave" go a ridiculously long way in summarizing exactly what my recent trip to Chicago for the fifth annual Pitchfork Festival meant to me. While I'd been to the fest several times in the past (the first three, actually), this marked the first time that a huge group of old friends (LBHS stand up!) were able to meet up and enjoy the city and the music and the drunken shenanigans together. (Pictured at right: Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips; all photos by R. Kevin Rose.)

What'd I learn? well, for starters... we are all official members of the POSI-ADULT CREW. Not straight edge — not even close — but definitely upbeat and affable. Positive, if you will. A group of kids raised on (amongst many, many other things) Bad Brains' "P.M.A.", Seven Seconds, Dag Nasty, Gorilla Biscuits, etc., who grew into a geographically dispersed crew of adults ... all of us still kinda "Screaming For Change" in our own unique ways. (LOTS MORE PICS AND SHENANIGANS AFTER THE JUMP)

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