The Pitchfork Music Festival has become something of an annual pilgrimmage for me each summer. It provides tremendous bang for buck — three days, 45-ish bands for $110 — and gives me an excuse to travel to Chicago, a city whose energy I love.
It was with tremendous interest last week I checked out the initial lineup for Pitchfork’s 2012 incarnation. I came away slightly disappointed, however. I must point out only 1/3 of the lineup has been released. Still, the list contains no one that would compel me to buy tickets when they go on sale and subsequently sell-out March 9.
A major problem I have with this lineup is the presumptive headliners. They inspire me to ask the most Casablancas-ian of questions: Is This It?
Vampire Weekend, Feist, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
I saw Vampire Weekend play Pitchfork a few years ago after the release of their hotshot first album. I like both of their albums a lot but … their live presence does not do a whole lot for me. Maybe it’s their Ivy League exterior. The inequality between their studio work and live performance reminds me of Spoon, an Austin, Texas, band who headlined Pitchfork a few years ago.
Leslie Feist appeared on “Sesame Street.” That means she’s legit. Thing is I enjoyed her more when she was with Broken Social Scene. I’m kind of indifferent to seeing her, particularly if she’s a nightcapper. I think she will close one of three nights based on album sales and her appeal to women. Let’s face it: Pitchfork needs to have a woman headliner. I can’t recall a female headliner. Maybe Yoko Ono was a headliner, but other than her there have not been many, if any.
Godspeed, I love you. I can’t wait to see them at Coachella in April. But do I think they deserve headliner status? No way. They have not released anything in years and their fanbase, while devoted, is not large enough. They should lead into a headliner, which I think they will, when the rest of the lineup is revealed.
OTHERS WHOSE MUSIC I ENJOY
Hot Chip, Kendrick Lamar, Grimes
I’ve wanted to see Hot Chip for years. They seem like a band who could make the hipsters shake off their pretenses and wiggle their skinny asses. Then again, they have some big shoes to fill. In recent years, Pitchfork has had killer performances from Major Lazer, LCD Soundsystem, and Cut Copy, among dance acts.
Kendrick Lamar is quite the talent. I hope his live show catches up to his studio wizardry, and I imagine soon it will. But I am skeptical. He lacked focus when I saw him perform at Bumbershoot last year in Seattle. I would be more excited about seeing him than A$AP Rocky, but that is purely a matter of preference.
Grimes is just starting to scratch the surface of her potential. I saw her perform in Portland a few weeks ago and would describe her as endearingly shy. She showcased awkward dance moves, offered little to no stage banter, and sang with timidity on occasion. I don’t think she’s ready for festivals yet. But with the way Pitchfork has hyped her this year I guess it is not too out of line to have her play an early afternoon set.
A$AP Rocky, The Field, AraabMUZIK, Liturgy, Cloud Nothings, Tim Hecker, Willis Earl Beal
Among this group, I think A$AP Rocky is the one to see. He’s the one who offers the most “Hey, I saw that guy/gal back when” potential among this group. Willis Earl Beal has an oddball factor that makes him worth taking a flier on, but if I had my druthers I would rather see Wesley Willis, another Chicago outsider artist. Too bad Wesley Willis is dead. Rock’n'Roll McDonald’s lives on!