Published Jul 21, 2010Pitchfork may receive its fair share of knocks for being indie-rock-skewed in scope and unnecessarily verbose in its criticism, but you can't deny how close it has a finger on the pulse. For the fifth year in a row, the popular website threw its annual festival blending genres of all kinds to get the perfect amalgamation of the music it and its readers love.
Friday's later start meant the workforce could catch Liars' clanging perversions and Robyn's chirpy dance pop, both of which set the tone for just how well-rounded the weekend would be. A well-oiled Broken Social Scene featured a small horn section and guest drummer John McEntire, upstaging headliners Modest Mouse and their near perfect, career-spanning set, thanks to the smiling, feel-good vibes that Kevin Drew and company exuded.
Free Energy began Saturday with a jolt of revved up riffage, but Real Estate's contrasting breeze of guitar noodling felt more comfortable as people searched for shade from the scorching sun. Spain's Delorean saw the weather as an opportunity to make people sweat even more with their sun-drenched Balearic pop. Titus Andronicus were brilliant as they got reckless and raucous with their anthems, but Dâm-Funk fell flat, learning that retro-futuristic funk doesn't fly on a sweltering Saturday afternoon — even with an 88-key keytar. Raekwon tried to Wu the crowd, but with multiple delays, he lost out to the subsequent thrills of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, whose medley of their past catalogue gave the crowd quite a blast.
Wolf Parade held up the momentum with a sturdy performance, but man, oh, man, did Panda Bear — or "Panda Bore" as he's being called — let down the thousands waiting to hear his new album Tomboy. He earned that nickname with an agonisingly lifeless performance. Thank god then for LCD Soundsystem, who gave the drunk girls plenty of hits and made their headlining slot a true happening.
Despite the threat of thundershowers, Sunday began with a pocket full of sunshine courtesy of Best Coast's fuzzy jams and Girls' jangling outsider pop. Both Washed Out and Beach House overcame their chilled-out reps to deliver some sublime music, most notably the latter's Victoria Legrand, who had the best pipes over the three days. Lightning Bolt were as far removed from chilled, putting the main stage crowd into convulsions with their hammering drums and bass. Major Lazer were the best thing at Pitchfork, not because of Diplo's crowd-pleasing, bass-rumbling mash-ups or the Chinese dragons, but because of mohawked MC Skerrit Bwoy, whose daggering moves and vitality were endless. Big Boi brought both his and Outkast's hits, reminding the crowd that he's as much the entertainer as Andre 3000.
It all culminated in Pavement's finale, and they didn't disappoint. Beginning with "Cut Your Hair" and ending with "The Hexx," it was as close to a perfect set list as it could get, especially considering the band sounded rehearsed and on point in their second life.
Once again, Pitchfork confirmed its status as the finest festival in North America, marking 2010 as the best year yet and raising the bar for what's to come in 2011.