Writing and Photography By Bobby Talamine
Edited by Fiza Javid
Yes, you heard that right, when covering Day Two of all things Pitchfork Music Festival '22- No methodical order of recaps of bands, from first to last or last to first.
And yes one more time: Mitski was undeniably a transformational kinda show, headliner on Day Two well noted. We'll get to Mitski in a moment.
However, so was The Armed- A hardcore / thrash punk / metalcore (throw more definitions here) collective from Detroit, Michigan.
Their set, which began wholeheartedly around 2:45pm, stayed in my head for the rest of the day, up to writing this recap.
Yeah- they were THAT GOOD.
To the point of staying around to catch their full and unhinged set- which if you can take a wild guess, is impossible festival wise, what with so much to cover and such. Stayed I did.
I mean sweet baby Jesus....these hooligans know how to throw a party and maximize the Blue Stage with every inch of real estate utilized by what seemed like 12 band members (maybe more).
Lost count amidst the deep sea of fog machines making even fellow photographers disappear in the pit, it was that thick.
It's like every bit of their production is thought out full throttle.
And the songs- all armed with hellfire and hellbent for interaction sweat.
From "ALL FUTURES', to "Night City Aliens", to "AN ITERATION", and then "A LIFE SO WONDERFUL"- (most songs written out on their setlist in capital letters for maximum effect)- well even a pleasant title for a song which is volatile as the rest, with a clear path to unhinged destruction.
Now supposedly the band loves to confuse, to remain somewhat anonymous with various band members throttled in and out of the band accordingly, just to shake things up and embrace all things "misconstrued".
Well fine by me.
There is a central core of members apparently, to try to keep some semblance of order through the chaos, which again, diving deep into this takes away from the actual memorable punishment that I witnessed, whether it be repetitive stage diving, body surfing, singing your lungs out from the pit and subwoofer risers, or even throwing your heavy duty microphone stand into the stage constantly, or whatever.
Technically, all of that doesn't matter, because it's obvious to me that the band pow wow prior to performing has to be something of a group huddle with words like 'Fun, but unhinged chaos is the order of the day", followed by lots and lots of fog.
So this shows once again, Pitchfork knows a thing or two to blast away on all things "guitar orientated", for Day Two.
Worked up a sweat writing that segment, and reliving the tapes in my head.
Not to knock the other acts worth noting- but "all over the map' serves a purpose- but yet how to convey the before and afters of Day Two without building up to The Armed?
In my opinion, next to impossible.
However, bands like The Linda Lindas deserve notice, with their fun indie punk kinda style, even with bassist Eloise Wong done up with cat whiskers, and a bright turquoise shirt, with the other band members dressed uniquely different reflecting personalities, but as a whole, embracing their brand of "damn good fun".
Or how about Dry Cleaning in the late afternoon, with Florence Shaw's narrations mixing ever so nicely with her bandmates- through an eleven song set, ending with the blistering "Scratchcard Lanyard", with Florence maintaining her composure like always, while her bandmates are drowning in scathed feedback bansheeness.
Or how about the hypnotic sounds and visuals and fashions and makeup with Yeule, a performer with unclassifiable cyber dimensions interspersed with mixes of trance ambient, glitch pop, or even a bit of light hearted goth.
First thing I thought of with Yeule was how she would fit in nicely on the main floor of the Metro, dancing away to all things "Nocturna", courtesy of Scary Lady Sarah.
And then there's Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast on the Red Stage at 7:30 ish, making great use of the stage, along with her flowers embraced gong front and center, with hypnotic bashes to said gong during opener "Paprika", and the crowd just eating it up- and eating up her entire set frankly, even with the appearance of Jeff Tweedy, sharing vocal duties to "Kokomo, IN", along with "Jesus, Etc", a Wilco cover.
So charming to hear how much Michelle adores Jeff and his unique singing / songwriting.
A wonderful set, with Japanese Breakfast.
And of course there's LOW, fronted by Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, who know a thing or two about "blended distortion", followed by walls of feedback mixed through guitar pedals. Look no further than their latest release- "Hey What", and the opening track which also opened their set- "White Horses". That song can go on for hours in my opinion, the beauty of distorted melody, followed by walls of sound and sustained and distained notes with hypnotic counterpoint vocals, fighting to be heard amidst the crushing sound. The stuff of genius, which never ever gets old.
We can't forget Magdalena Bay, the sophisticated and sincere as all get out synth pop duo consisting of Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin, who know a thing or two about set production embracing all things "middle eighties", all the way down to pajama onesies with assorted hues of off blue and off pink ish colors.
Let this by no means take away from their sophisticated songwriting and sound palettes- they are ever so crafty in blasting out melodies, to the likes of "Chaeri" in particular. All you had to do was look around the grounds of the Red Stage- virtually everyone was dancing in place from beginning to end.
And of course the Danish band Iceage, who with frontman Elias Ronnenfelt know how to present a song or two unabashed, even while performing after The Armed had been done earlier.
They sound cool, they look ultra cool, they play ever so cool, through a set consisting of nuggets such as "Dear Saint Cecillia", and "Vendetta", or even "Thieves Like Us". Well done fellas- embracing all things noise rock and post punk or whatever- doesn't matter, subgenres be damned with these guys, which is a good thing.
As for CupcakKe- she commands, ladies and gentlemen. A packed crowd in the early afternoon via the Red Stage, with raps and discussions on all things "vagina this", "vagina that", amongst other necessary expletives.
She knows a thing or two about this, rapping with the occasional wicked smile, and demanding your undivided attention.
As for headliner Mitski- HOLY SHIT.
The buildup to her performance- the crowd- her audience, ate it up. They ate up everything- her occasional leg kicks, the witnessing of her knee pads under her dress, her fits and starts moves, acting out whichever song, from opener "Love Me More", into "Working for the Knife" in particular, with fictitious thrashes to her arms bringing out yelps and screams and hollers from her faithful audience, and into "I Will" a slow burn of a song with ultra cool hypnotically ladened synths.
Her entire set- from delicate to unabashed- the audience ate it up, even sharing lyrics out loud most of the night, riveted to her every move and nuance.
Mitski's the real deal- putting thought and care into everything production wise, even on a minimal scale, to reflect the moods of Mitski, with no distractions.
In my opinion, not many artists can pull that off, without showing weaknesses and spotty issues.
Not the case with Mitski, who lives and breathes her world, and clearly knows how to share it with the rest of us.
Going to go down as one of the best performances of the year, on year end lists- it was that amazing- that good- that memorable.
Here's to Pitchfork- knocking Day Two out of the park yet again.
Bobby Talamaine - JBTV Music Television Chicago