Pitchfork Fest in Review: Savages, Swans, The Breeders and More

Photo Credit: Leif Johnson


Uh. Still hot. And no breeze today. I entered Union Park to the sweet sounds of Phosphorescent, who were finishing up their Muchacho-heavy Green Stage set (later, I would find former MTV veejay John Norris interviewing former Athenian Matthew Houck by the media tent—livin’!), but the first full set of the day came courtesy of Austin rockers …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, who tore through the classics (“Another Morning Stoner”) and some new material, which sounded punker and more aggressive than the group’s most recent work. “Who wants to fucking mosh?” asked guitarist Jason Reece, before adding, wryly, “Not me.” A certain youthful spark may have been lost since Trail of Dead’s early, more destructive days, but their rock and roll heart remains.

Back on the Green Stage, Savages suffered for fashion, wearing all black in the sweltering sun. The UK-based band’s buzz has been building steadily for some time, and it delivered with gusto on Saturday, churning out jam after stormy post-punk jam, singer Jehnny Beth steady mugging in the muggy haze. The crowd was growing massive at this point, and the band responded in kind.

METZ blew up the slightly shaded Blue Stage with their energetic muscle-rock. For a three-piece, the group is rather commanding; the mid-afternoon burst of noise was the tonic an already-sunburnt crowd seemed to need. Over on the Red Stage, Swans continued the heaviness with a show that culled from The Seer and beyond, Michael Gira’s strange and wonderful stage presence defying the hot and blistering sun. Or, maybe it was fueled by it; the band’s hourlong stand was a pure and punishing thing, elemental in its vision.

The Breeders played Last Splash. It’s a terrific album. It’s not, I realized, an incredibly exciting album to watch performed live in 90 degree heat. Nonetheless, the Deal sisters commanded the stage with a certain grace, and “Cannonball” killed. Low took the Blue Stage for a weary audience, half of which seemed to be sitting down. As the Sparhawks rolled amicably through their catalog, the sun began to set. Finally, there was relief.


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