Pitchfork Music Festival Union Park, Chicago IL July 18 to 20

Pitchfork Music Festival Union Park, Chicago IL July 18 to 20
Photo: Andrea England
More than anything, the third annual Pitchfork Music Festival was a testament to the popular website’s clout to get virtually any name they wanted for this year’s event.

Friday night kicked off with the second collaboration with All Tomorrow’s Parties and its "Don’t Look Back” series. Sebadoh relived their lo-fi opus Bubble and Scrape, which Lou, Jason and Eric performed with the same youthful demeanour and emotional turmoil as the album. Public Enemy brought back It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, shoving the fact that it is a classic down everyone’s throats repeatedly, but also showing the political force is still very much alive in the group. Desperately, Flavor Flav tried to get in a few plugs for his new VH-1 reality show, but the crowd wasn't having it, launching a canon full of bombs at the mention of it.

Early thunderstorms couldn’t prevent day two from going according to plan. Titus Andronicus brought their ramshackle indie rock with unhinged passion, kicking it off with a cheeky, a cappella rendition of "Common People,” the only Pulp song of the day thanks to Jarvis Cocker’s strictly solo set where he debuted some new rockin’ tunes with his signature posturing and inimitable wit. The overly frenetic Jay Reatard and the sleepy-eyed Atlas Sound (Bradford Cox by his lonesome) were disappointments that left plenty of room to love the Hold Steady who had everyone singing along, and Dizzee Rascal, who was a breath of fresh air, getting everyone up and dancing "wiv” him. Fleet Foxes hypnotized the crowd with their shimmering folk rock, while Fuck Buttons demonstrated how electronic death metal really does work outdoors. The Ruby Suns and Vampire Weekend accentuated the welcome sunshine with their pop sounds, and !!! brought the fucking house down with the most energy of any band all weekend. No Age pounded through their usual set, ending off with an embarrassingly slipshod cover of Black Flag’s "Nervous Breakdown” with guests Abe Vigoda. Closing off the night was Animal Collective and their lite-brite circus, which felt like the only way to say goodnight.

Day three found shitgazers Times New Viking presenting a much cleaner sound than usual and High Places got everyone’s tropical groove on in the scalding sun. Nudity was in store for such a hot day, as both energetic powerhouses Les Savy Fav and King Khan got their kits off — the former flashing himself and then wiping his ass with a dollar bill. The Dodos were a bit dull-dull, but Boris weren’t, as the Japanese trio’s thunderous stoner metal gave the fest a heavier presence. Ghostface Killah & Raekwon actually showed, despite a long trip and Ghost’s "stinky balls,” to give everyone what they wanted: a little Wu-Tang. Spiritualized brought the grandiose gospel with full effect, even when their sound cut out, which was more than Cut Copy could say, who were delayed over an hour and forced the crowd to a thoughtless "psychedelic doo-wop” improv set by Jay Reatard, Bradford Cox and King Khan. But Spoon held down the headliner slot with grace and that smooth rock poise their known for, capping off yet another colourful and satisfying year of Pitchfork’s faves.