Pitchfork Music Festival 2021 - Day Two Recap: St. Vincent, Kim Gordon, Bartees Strange, Maxo Kream and more
Writing and Photography by: Bobby Talamine
Pitchfork in the sweltering sun with high energy sets from Bartees Strange, Rapper Maxo Kream, Kim Gordon, and headliner St. Vincent.
Unlike yesterday for day One of Pitchfork, and writing a review that was all over the place, thought I'd bring things back to normal, and discuss the headliner St. Vincent first, and go from there.
Annie Clark (St. Vincent) was without a doubt the most anticipated set of the three day festival, and her audience frothing with excitement in regards to her production in relation to her latest release from back in May- "Daddy's Home". Yes, the critical acclaim for "Daddy's Home" was positive, with most top notch reviewers praising "Daddy's Home' and at the underlying sophistication and overall vibe of the album, worthy of discovery with repeated listens. But for this guy, having followed the career of St, Vincent from way back when- I got stoked when Annie gave a couple interviews to hype up "Daddy's Home', and stating that she found herself immersed in seventies soul and R&B jams, finding herself listening and absorbing lots of Sly & The Family Stone in particular.
That made me stop right there, bringing up Sly and his amazing catalog from the seventies, thinking that Annie was going to incorporate that vibe with "Daddy's Home", assuming the album would be a full on party anthem / trailblazing/ rip roaring affair, as Sly was so capable of recording at a moment's notice. And then the album came out, and upon first and second listens- it sounded so sleepy to me. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.
However, I do agree with most reviewers, that it does has its charms with repeated listens, and stellar musicianship and songwriting.
And now bounce forward to St Vincent's headlining set on day two of Pitchfork- and the build up to Annie performing on the Green Stage at 8:30 pm, to play an hour and twenty minute set... and questions.
Can she top herself from her "I Am a Lot Like You! Tour" from back in 2018-19? What kind of vibe and fashions will she incorporate from the seventies? From lighting and backdrops from seventies productions- (Like Sonny & Cher, or The Midnight Special)?
And her setlist, and blending in previous songs with a clearly different vibe and mood from "Daddy's Home"? Is this even necessary to discuss, since It's St Vincent, and you already know damn well that Annie doesn't F around when it comes to sophistication and production.
All of this was laid to rest with me, and have to say her show was satisfying and gratifying.
How's this for a barn burner opening volley of three songs- she opens with "Digital Witness", into "Down", from "Daddy's Home", into "Actor Out of Work", and all three are meshed and blendered up 1970's style- sounding particular, but with a whole new vibe and feel. So yes, I'm convinced yet again, that Annie Clark is without peer in regards to a shapeshifter of sound, and consistently re-inventing herself, over and over and over, like David Bowie over the course of his illustrious career. So yes, her production sucked in a lot of the juice that was so seventies, which was a good thing, with her background singers slinking out to the sensual intro beat from stage left, then settling front and center, followed by what looked like Annie herself, blonde wig n' all- and from my vantage point, was completely fooled by this photographer, (the others too), with the barrage of shutters going off, and everyone assuming it was Annie, only it wasn't Annie.
Annie came out and stood on a little podium, looking so slyly at the fake Annie, and once everyone settled into their respective places- off we go into a trailblazing 18 song set that meshed and melded and gelled. Annie, ever so sexy with seventies makeup / wig and overall vibe, wearing a sporty and tight black jacket with the word "Daddy" speckled on the back, and with an exposed black bra underneath.
Simply the air of classiness and cool, her throwback direction so well and intact for this show at Pitchfork. Flawless harmonies, a whipsmart backing band to punch through the funk- inspired set, tight choreography throughout, and further providing humor and slight discord (with a wink) to Pitchfork, and their review of "Daddy's Home, which gave her release a "6.8", enticing the crowd to join her in the WTF- but done elegantly I might add.
So there you have it- a headlining set from St Vincent front and center, and oh so memorable.
As for getting to Pitchfork in time for Bartees Strange, who went on at 1:45pm- have to say Bartees was one of the most anticipated performers for Saturday as well. This guy is light years ahead of his time cool. From his band, his songs, to his demeanor and guitar playing- and even before he played a note he said how much he was looking forward to playing Pitchfork- like weeks and weeks ago, and you can tell he was excited as all get out.
Divino Nino in the blazing afternoon sun was cool as well- a vibe that meshed like Miami via Mexico via Columbia alternative vibe with some retro and Latin grooves added in for good measure.
Then off I go to catch the rapper Maxo Kream, who certainly knows how to get the dustbowl of mosh going at a moment's notice, even going shirtless two songs in from the sweltering heat, and mixing things up like a heavyweight boxer you don't want to F with.
As for Katie Crutchfield and her band Waxahatchee- the delicate vibes and feel on a hot summer day were transfixing, with her audience so silent and observant of her singing / songwriting.
Made it in time to catch Faye Webster's set from the Blue Stage, with her singing and mid tempo song selections a pleasant surprise on this Saturday afternoon.
And as for Ty Seagull and his Freedom Band- He never disappoints- incorporating mountains of feedback and twisted distortion throughout his set, bringing up the vibe and feel of Matt Pike's band Sleep, or better yet, Mike Scheidt of Yob- which is a good thing in my opinion.
Sonic Youth's legendary Kim Gordon commanded attention with her set as well, ever looking the part of the fairy godmother of alternative and indie, with a set meshed in wicked coolness, and a look that was the female version of Iggy Pop- a don't F with me attitude- take it or leave it. Such a highlight for me on Saturday was Kim Gordon, and all things badass.
Angel Olsen was a delight as well, going on just before St Vincent's set, and her awesome and tight-knit band not the worse for wear, playing together like their was no pandemic, and touring throughout.
That's saying something, along with adding a cello and violinist to flush out her sound as well, let alone the underlying and poignant bass grooves from Emily Elhaj.
And that upper register of Angel Olsen...gives you goosebumps. So cool to see Sharon Van Etten come out for Angel's last song of the evening and sing alongside her as well.
Such a convincingly awesome Day Two from Pitchfork. Now off to cover day three as well.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago