Canadian metal masters KEN Mode blew the lid off the day, putting on a 1 p.m. show to less than 200 people with the intensity of a wolf’s eyes. Punkers White Lung, playing simultaneously on the north side of Union Park, similarly ripped it up.
All of this raging intensity was followed by the most entertaining set of Pitchfork thus far: Pissed Jeans. Anything goes for those true-blue punk nuts. Lead singer Matt Korvette started the set by mentioning his (sarcastic?) excitement about their paycheck (“We getting that Bjork money! We getting that Belle & Sebastian money!”) while eating a frozen pink ice treat. He proceeded to writhe and cavort across a set of howling insanity, ripping off tank top after tank top—each one repping Tito’s Vodka (“If you’re going to drink irresponsibly, drink Tito’s”). The mic cord eventually became wrapped around his Grinch-esque body (skinny with a bowling ball at his navel), requiring yet another disrobing to untangle.
Female punk group Savages continued the musical theme of the north stages on Saturday, turning in a visceral performance powered by the screaming banshee vocals of Jehnny Beth and the thundering drumming of Fay Milton—she put every pound of her frame into stomping on the bass drum pedal, bouncing for the duration.
Two decade old noise rockers Swans were the most thought provoking of everything Saturday, featuring a snake charming clarinet solo, two percussionists (one playing the xylophone with violin bows for a song) and an hour-long set of only three songs.
Ryan Hemsworth and Rustie held down the first real dance sets on the south Blue Stage—all of the alt/punk/noise/rock up to those points was not conducive to the most rhythmic of hip-shaking, more along the head-nodding, arm-shaking, fist-pumping variety.
The rest of the acts (more to come on Parquet Courts!) turned in solid sets that made Saturday totally eclipse the lackluster opening day.