Pitchfork Day Three: One for the books

Grant Tillery

Trouble finding parking meant a late start to day three of Pitchfork.  The rollicking sounds of Speedy Ortiz were audible all along Ashland Avenue, and provided an excellent soundtrack while walking into the festival.  DIIV delivered solid, mid-tempo indie rock, nothing distinct from typical stylists of the genre, but their tunes were catchy.  It was a mistake to leave their set for Perfect Pussy.  The noise rockers’ songs were all one chord bangers and lacked melody.  Lead singer Meredith Graves’ lyrics were rendered inaudible by her screams and the drones of the guitars.

Deafheaven’s approach to noise was more consonant.  The metal mavens performed one of the day’s best sets (high praise from a guy who doesn’t like metal).  They’re reminiscent of a darker, more cacophonous version of AC/DC.  What makes their brand of metal work is a strong emphasis of melody, and many of their songs draw upon somber indie ballad influences.

Earl Sweatshirt’s set wasn’t indicative of a rapper who canceled the rest of his tour due to exhaustion, part in thanks to his immense charisma and top-notch stage banter.  He riled the crowd up with a little help from Domo Genesis.  Schoolboy Q’s set was the most turned up of the whole festival.  People smashed and thrashed against each other as a security guard came close to clocking a guy who messed around with a girl.  Q’s brash live delivery contrasted with his syrupy album tendencies, and it was a treat to see him in top form.

I caught just a few minutes of Real Estate’s set, but I would have loved to stay for the whole thing.  It was a nice break from the cavalcade of rappers that dominated day three.  Their light and breezy folk rock never gets boring, even after three minutes spent switching between the same two instrumental riffs.  Next up was Slowdive, who regrouped this January.  The shoegaze pioneers blissed out the crowd with old favorites, and proved that when you’re reunited, it feels so good. 

DJ Spinn took the place of DJ Rashad (R.I.P.) in the lineup.  He paid tribute to his longtime musical partner by remixing several of his songs during his set.  Though attendance was small, those in the know were treated to one of Chicago’s preeminent house DJs.  Grimes’ theatrical electronica was nary a sonic departure from DJ Spinn, though her bottom-heavy set of originals was accompanied by two comely dancers.

Kendrick Lamar ended the night with aplomb.  The best rapper in the game ran through his 2012 album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City,” which turned into an hour-long sing-along.  Though his delivery was on the quiet side (it was difficult to hear the lyrics from the back), few rappers match Lamar’s spirit and moxie.  He played a drawn out version of “A.D.H.D.” for his encore, and his riff on the chorus was a thing of beauty.  Thanks to Kendrick Lamar and Deafheaven’s sets, day three’s performances eclipsed day two and matched the glimmer of day one (it’s hard to beat Beck’s and Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks’ blowouts).