Pitchfork Day Three recap

Mark Brenden

The Pitchfork 2010 match — cracked by Modest Mouse in night one and kept alive by Free Energy and Titus Andronicus in night two — now lies lonely and extinguished in the form of a thousand beer cups, two thousand cig butts and as many bum roaches on the greens of Union Park, Chicago. The day started with, as they say, “a bang.” Best Coast’s sandy-shore, mellow pop eased fest go-ers’ two-day hangovers as the crowd passed around beach balls and, well, other things. At one point a specifically rowdy fan hollered “Play a Wavves song!” at the band’s supremely cute leader, Bethany Cosentino (who has an Indie-King-and-Queen love relationship with Wavves frontman Nathan Williams). She sarcastically snarked back but ended up playing one anyways. The band’s stellar outing set the bar at a lofty height that nobody really matched — save Big Boi, but in a different manner. Another band I had highlighted on my list as soon as the lineup was unleashed was Girls. Led by the creative mind of cult child Christopher Owens, the band released one of the best records of ’09 with “Album.” They showed up to the festival looking like “Ernest Goes to Pitchfork,” Owens dawning a goofy old-guy-tropical button-up tucked into hiked-up khakis. Despite a spot-on rendition of “Ghost Town,” the boys seemed uninterested, if not bored. It was as though there was a wall between them and the crowd. In the band’s defense —and as we tweeted in the pit — they seem to present their music as though it were a painting to be observed and pondered over, which works in the right setting (an outdoor music party not necessarily it). The party of the weekend was unsurprisingly provided by Sir Lucious Left Foot himself, Big Boi. We were able to meet up with him in his trailer, the wacky details of which I’ll withhold until we display it in Wednesday’s A&E. One thing I can safely divulge is the man carries himself with the total aura of a shamelessly self-assured rock star. And that he’s a nice guy. Afterward, he got the pit reeling with hits like “B.O.B.” and “The Way You Move.” For the dish on the headliners, Pavement, Vita.mn contributor and former A&E Asst. Editor Jay Boller confides: In music — as in life — things really boil down to motives. Why, then, did Pavement really reunite this year? The ’90s indie rock lynchpins had the “bread” (money), the “’spect” (respect) and a snuggly spot deep in the hearts of alt-rock music fans young and old. But with much celebration and to the tune of thousands of excited movements striking the insides of skinny jeans, the group did reform despite a notoriously sloppy 1999 breakup. Pavement circa 2010 headlined the final eve of the Pitchfork Music Fest to legions of exulted musicheads and the result was … well, pretty “bleh.” When Malkmus and Co. tore into their opener “Cut Your Hair” the set seemed primed for a rock-a-thon. The crowd was majorly digging the goods, the band appeared sharp and vibes were decidedly solid. From there, though, botched P.A. levels and — perhaps only to this reviewer — a lingering suspicion that the group was only on board to cash in took over. Firstly, Mark Ibold’s bass was nauseatingly high in the mix. Any grooves were overmatched by the eardrum-quaking decibels of the bass lines and the set suffered as a result. Beyond that, Pavement really didn’t appear all that into is. That’s not to say they were lethargic and sullen, as the show boasted spirited playing and a workman’s gusto. Rather, the stage banter was gone, the inter-band vibes abysmal and the entire experience conjured: did the frayed connections between the Pavement players really ever heal? The hits were cycled, the crowd was generally pleased and current twentysomethings got to say “Dude, I totally saw Pavement!” But here’s hoping the prototype-establishing indie rockers gave more live during their first incarnation, because the re-upping smacks of a midlife cash-grab. Alas, “Da ‘Pave” still leaves us a discography rich with records that feel like they mean it — and the annals of rock history will judge those not as shrug-worthy Pitchfork set.