Pitchfork Festival: Day One, Chicago

J. Neas here reporting from Chicago. The opening day of the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival is done and what a wild ride its already been. The park feels more full than last year (did they release more tickets or something, or am I imagining things?), but the atmosphere is still great. I'll return to some of the daily production notes in a second, but first to the music.

I arrived in time to catch the Tallest Man on Earth's set. Kristian Matsson openly complained (in his low-key, Swedish, non-griping way) of having had little sleep and the sun being unbearable. It was a warm Chicago afternoon and the cloudless sky was making it quite the oven down on the field. But he worked through his set with the same energy he has brought to other performances. All solo acoustic or slow-tempo performers face the same uphill battle at an outdoor festival: keeping a hot, sweaty audience from getting antsy. He did a noble job of it and the crowd reacted accordingly.

But as soon as he was done, El-P took the stage and brought energy to an afternoon that sorely needed it. Pulling out new songs, a handful from I'll Sleep When You're Dead and even one or two from the legendary Fantastic Damage, the set was full of fist pumping works. Even on the more dour, depressing material, his band, hype man and himself put on a great show. It was a great lead into the day's first certifiable noise act, Liars. I wish I could say I caught more of their set, but the rather punishing sun was making the stage where stand-up comedians had now begun, which is under a complete canopy of trees, way more inviting.

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