Photos by Jason Thrasher
I first stumbled onto Ty Segall in 2010 via two tracks from Melted on the Mondo Boysmixtapes put out by Athens alum and Aquarium Drunkard helmster Justin Gage. Since then, keeping up with Segall and friends’ (Mikal Cronin, Fuzz, Thee Oh Sees, Sic Alps) nonstop output of Northern California garage-punk-psych-metal has been like watching rabbits multiply, tricky to quantify and difficult to describe.
A friend of mine once told a funny story, a through-the-grapevine anecdote about someone's mom running into a mohawked Trent Reznor at the neighborhood Kroger or whatever and a bashful Rez explaining that the hairdo was "for the kids."
These days, Reznor's fashion choices are honestly pretty MOR for a man who penned the lyric "hard line bad luck fist fuck"—shorts, muscle shirts, the occasional tasteful bit of leather—and his audience is no longer so much "the kids," but rather those kids who grew up with his nihilistic shut-in anti-anthems, kids now pushing 30, 40 years old but still eager to fist-pump along with steadfastly antisocial tunes like "Gave Up."
I’ve been skeptical of summer music festivals since Bonnaroo 2004, when I was gifted the most horrendous sunburn you could imagine. The sound is usually never on point for outdoor stages, either. Call me crazy, but I’m just not fond of sweating it out while also not being able to hear a band that well.
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 fromSunbather. In fact, the vibe was downright chill:
Empress Of got off to a shaky start on the Blue Stage Saturday, but soon Lorely Rodriguez and her backing band were locked in, riding a succession of strange grooves accentuated by Rodriguez's dynamic and equally strange vocal delivery. On the Red Stage, the ever-potent Cloud Nothings offered what was one of the only straight-up rock and roll sets of the day, heavy on songs from this year's Here and Nowhere Else.
Photo Credit: Leif Johnson
Right off the bat, the best thing this year's Pitchfork Music Festival has going for it is the weather: Rather than last summer's mind-melting heat, Friday attendees were treated to a clear-skied 80-degree afternoon.
Photo Credit: Jason Creps
Accompanied by a five-piece band that featured Kelly Hogan’s exceptional voice and Eric Bachmann’s adept guitar and keys work, Neko Case and company tore through a range of songs at the Georgia Theatre, drawn mostly from her past two records. Before I go any further: Let it be known that Case’s band is tight, though not in the overly-polished, “let’s replicate the record note-for-note” manner. The playing was confident throughout the set, everything finely calibrated even when the moods of the songs swayed from drowsy to frantic.
Bruce Hornsby played the Georgia Theatre Monday night. Two Flagpole correspondents were there, and offer their takes below.
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones
There may not be a better up-the-gut rock band in Athens than Five Eight. Having been around for two-plus decades, the band remains as tight as ever, offering up chunky riffs behind Mike Mantione’s manic songwriting. After blasting out of the gate with “Magnetic Fields,” from Five Eight’s eponymously titled album, the band roared through a few songs from their forthcoming release. “Palace Estates” sounded especially refined, due in no small part to the guitar chops of Sean Dunn and the low end being held down by bassist Dan Horowitz.
Photo Credit: Gabe Vodicka
For the second year in a row, the Breakfast of Champions day party, hosted by New West and Normaltown Records, was a real hit. Word must’ve gotten around that free tacos and beer were being slung, because there was a sizeable crowd in attendance as long as I was present.
After accompanying the always endearing Ruby Kendrick for a few songs, Christian Lee Hutson brought what he called his “parade of bummer hits” about growing up, getting sober, and things going terribly wrong. Something of an amalgam between Mark Oliver Everett of Eels and Hank Williams, Hutson’s croon was especially exceptionally palpable on his heartbreaker tune “No Apologies Please.”
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