July 21, 2014

Pitchfork Music Festival in Review: Kendrick Lamar, Slowdive, Jon Hopkins and More


Kendrick Lamar

Finishing the three-day marathon that is Pitchfork starts to feel like a daunting task by the time Sunday rolls around, and the mood in Union Park was flat early that afternoon, even as Bay Area black-metal outfit Deafheaven screeched and churned through songs from Sunbather. In fact, the vibe was downright chill:

After Odd Future associate Earl Sweatshirt gave the middle-aged parents in the Red Stage crowd fits and Dum Dum Girls overcame early sound problems to deliver a pleasant Blue Stage set, UK dance producer Jon Hopkins got the people in the latter area moving with an immersive selection of bass-heavy house beats from his stellar Immunity. (Dig that record if you haven't already.)

Alas, as quickly as the energy level had heightened, it flatlined once again as Real Estate took the Red Stage. The band's balmy indie rock is fine on record but boring live, and though the crowd was sizeable the set was unimpressive. Thankfully, Slowdive was there to remedy the situation. The British shoegaze troupe hasn't lost a step. Loud and lovely, tunes from Souvlaki and Pygmalion sounded as fresh and gorgeous as ever. 

Even though Grimes hasn't yet released the anticipated follow-up to 2012's acclaimed Visions, her Red Stage set showed that she's still firmly in the buzz-bin camp. In fact, it was one of the most well attended and well received shows of the weekend; her odd, bubbly synth-pop (which has taken a mainstream-friendly turn since her avant-leaning beginnings) proved a crowd pleaser. 

Kendrick Lamar capped it off with a hugely successful set of songs from good kidm.A.A.d city, complete with Compton visuals projected behind him and a show-stopping effort from his incredible live band. But the spotlight was on the freshly bearded MC, whose raspy delivery seemed a symptom of some inner firestorm. The festival was only coming to a close, but K. Dot performed as if the world were ending.