15,000 dirty hipsters, 2,700 shutter actuations, 39 bands, 1 free Chipotle burrito, and a fistful of business cards later, the dusty hipster-meet that is the Pitchfork Music Festival has come and gone for 2007. As always, Chicago was a blast, with great food and friends, though the ever-elusive Chicago-style hotdog remained just out of reach.
I've just finished up images from Saturday, the first full day of the Pitchfork Music Festival, and the first day I covered of the event.
My first day of coverage started off with a breezy day – perfect weather aside from the wind (or was it the Mastodon fans?) whipping up dust at the Connector stage. Despite the threat of isolated thunderstorms forcasted the day before, a partial cloud cover was the extent of the menacing weather.
The Twilight Sad
Glasgow Scotland's The Twilight Sad started off the day with a solid set. Clouds and noon-day sun kept the band in open shade on the smaller main stage, which made for an easy start to the festival.
Chicago-based group Califone opened the day on the main stage, playing to an entheusiastic and growing crowd, with legions of fans already camping out for the later acts. Only the second band that day, I left the pit a little early during Califone's set and was rewarded by a free, albeit cold, Chipotle burrito in the press tent.
Voxtrot, hailing from Austin, kept things rolling with an upbeat set. In a change from last year, the Connector stage featured stage lighting from the back throughout the day, rather than only at night. I thought this switch provided a nice bit of interest; at the very least, the lights were another element to use in composition.
On the main stage, Grizzly Bear's mellow set provided a little calm before the storm of Battles. After slight technical difficulties with the mic on the clarinet, GB went full speed ahead into the soft jams. As much as I enjoy Grizzly Bear, aside from Califone, this set was one of the more lackluster performances to photograph.
One of the clear favorites going into the festival, and certainly after, Battles brought the math beats – and the rock – to Union Park on Sunday. The super-tight musicianship of their debut album translated into a high-energy performance, with a particularly fierce display by drummer John Stanier.
Iron & Wine
Sam Beam's Iron & Wine played to a large crowd at the Aluminum stage, just as the light was starting to sweeten up in the late afternoon. The set, more engaging than when I saw Iron & Wine play with Calexico in late 2005, was solid and satisfying, even given the questional fit with the festival's vibe.
As Mastodon ripped into their set from the opening lines of double bass, fans wasted no time kicking up dust from the baseball diamond over which the Connector stage lay, much to the displeasure of photogs in the pit. Weather-sealing is a good thing. Still, despite frequent lens changes between and during sets, the D2x and lenses did a great job at keeping the dust at bay, with no visible dust spots occuring during thte festival.
Continuing the spiral into the last few acts warmly started by Iron & Wine and Mastodon, the hip hop duo Clipse put on a particularly well received performance on the Aluminum stage.
Cat Power, performing with the Dirty Delta Blues band, put on a pleasing set that was only slightly marred by sound issues, which seemed to plague the festival over the entire weekend.
Just as Girl Talk was closing things down at the Balance stage, Yoko Ono wound up the day at the Aluminum stage, howling and yelping before her tight backing band and a throng of dedicated fans.