Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lollapalooza 2011 pictures

Believe it or not this was my first time ever attending Lollapalooza. It was a perfect time to do so, as I knew two of the bands personally who were playing on Sunday and I was given the awesome opportunity to film their shows and take some sweet pictures. My brother is a drummer in the Chicago based group Young Man, who I've filmed several shows for over the past year but this probably had to be their biggest stateside so far. Congrats to them on an awesome show and good luck on their new album (who they are recording with John McEntire, genius producer of Tortoise, Sea and Cake, and more). Videos will be coming soon.

The other group I was lucky enough to film was Cage the Elephant, whose guitarist I have become good friends with lately. They're originally based out of Bowling Green, KY but some of the members live in Nashville. And good thing because they put on an incredible live show and it was an amazing opportunity to be able to film it. They've really blown up too, the crowd was massive (estimated 20-25k) and it was one of the wildest shows I've seen all year. When the rain started to fall it only added to the energy, it truly was a special concert moment. Thanks to the band for giving me the chance to film it, I can't wait to go through all the videos.

Besides those two shows I didn't see much else except for Daedelus in Perry's dance tent. I fucking love this guy, ever since I saw him back in 2007 at SXSW he has always been one of my favorite electronic artists. He samples the best stuff, everything from Cut Copy to one of my new obsessions James Blake, and puts it amidst a barrage of electronic beats and warbles that is both danceable and thought-provoking. Kudos to him for pushing the boundaries of what electronic performers can do.

Overall it was an incredible experiences, I only got to go Sunday but it was more than worth the trip up to Chicago. I'll have some sweet videos in the coming weeks but for now check out some of my favorite pictures from the day. All shot on my Canon 5D, which I love more every day I spend with it.

Chicago skyline
Young Man

My brother killing the drums
Crowd at the Playstation Stage
Cage the Elephant

Thanks again to the bands for giving me the chance to capture these amazing concert moments. I wish them all the best, from what I've seen they still have much more to do.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pitchfork Music festival report: Saturday

I wanted to update at least one more day of Pitchfork before I get to the crazy Lollapalooza experience I just had. I got to film my brother's band Young Man as well as the awesome Cage the Elephant show, but more on that later. Now back to the Pitchfork recap which I've been writing off and on for the past few days but have now finally finished.

The first act we made it into the festival for was Sun Airway, a mellow rock band who provided a good start to the day. Their performance was solid although not that impactful, but I guess that kind of goes with their mellow vibe. Nonetheless it was a good way to begin the afternoon, the crowd was light so it was easy to get a good spot and soak up the music.

In spite of the blazing sun we went to check out some Cold Cave next. I could hardly complain about the heat though with the members all fully decked in long black clothes. They were bringing it hard too, from the singer's bombastic delivery to the big beats and synths they dropped it was quite a spectacle. They sort of had a Joy Division and New Order kind of feel, definitely the 80's vibe was thick with their music. We only caught the latter half of the show but it was a lot of fun, and I hope to see a full show of theirs soon.
No Age was up next on the adjacent stage, a pretty sweet noise rock band I had seen a couple of times before. They've been around for a few years now, and over time they have really tightened up. They're still a raucous mess but it's a much more controlled one. The crowd on the other hand felt free to let loose, with plenty of  movement up front as the two members of the band kicked it into high gear. Their songs are short blasts of pure energy, the drummer sings and for some reason that always adds a level of intensity. Definitely reminds me of Death From Above 1979, who are a superior band in my opinion but still a reasonable comparison. Overall it was my 2nd favorite show I had seen of theirs, and was a great lead-in for the next group.

Because Gang Gang Dance was next and they just blew the festival up, in many ways it was the most exciting show I had seen so far at the festival. A New York based band fronted by an intense front woman who seemed to be the band leader in many ways. Their music is somewhat tough to classify, because while it is definitely dance oriented it is also very experimental and weird. With 6 members on stage they took their music many different directions throughout the set but the energy always remained high. Throw in some stage diving from the lead singer chick and the crowd was definitely right there with them. I was a bit worn out after their show, but we went to meet up with some friends and check out some Destoyer next.
Now for a band called Destroyer it was a pretty low key affair, compared to No Age who had played previously on the same stage they were radically different. Cool grooves, mellow vocals and saxophone riffs set the tone. Unfortunately the stage they played at had pretty weak sound from where we were standing so it didn't really hold my attention that much. At this point all I could think about was the next show.
Because up next was Dismemberment Plan who were easily my most anticipated act of the day. If you don't know Dismemberment Plan it wouldn't surprise me because they are an older band that actually broke up in 2003. I was luckily able to catch them on their farewell tour but that was 8 years ago! They used to be one of my favorite bands later in high school, but that shouldn't lump them in with some of the not-so-great stuff I used to listen to. Their album Emergency & I is an absolute indie-rock classic, and their follow up Changes is also a stellar album. Lead singer Travis Morrison writes some of the best lyrics I've ever heard, truly thought-provoking and insightful stuff. But beyond that the band has amazingly creative guitar sounds and an absolutely killer rhythm section as well. This was one of the few shows at Pitchfork that I knew every song. I wasn't just familiar with them either, I knew most of the lyrics by heart even though some of their work came out nearly a decade ago. As you can probably guess it was an extremely fulfilling show for me, definitely my favorite of the day. I really can't say enough about how great this band is, you really just have to hear it for yourself.
After the Plan we staked out a spot where we could watch DJ Shadow from and be posted up for a good spot for Fleet Foxes' headlining show. Now I am an absolutely huge DJ Shadow fan, but this was not one of my favorite shows of his. First off he came with his latest crazy visual setup which involves this orb his tables are in, so for nearly the first half of the show you couldn't even see him. And since it was still light out the visuals were barely even visible, especially from my vantage point. His tune selection was mostly still on point, with lots of classic tunes thrown in there from his incredible, ground-breaking albums Entroducing and Private Press, although some of his newer material crept in there which is no doubt inferior. No doubt this show in the proper setting would have probably been a lot better, but in the end you just can't have DJ Shadow playing in daylight. This show couldn't hold a candle to the insane show I saw at Bonnaroo in 2007 or even what little I did catch at Coachella that year for that reason. Shadow belongs at night, enough said.

Luckily though we still had one more act to go, and in many ways it was my most anticipated headlining act of the weekend because I had only seen Fleet Foxes one time before and it was only partially fulfilling. Fleet Foxes has gained a lot of popularity over just the past year or two, and you could tell as the crowd got very thick as they were about to take the stage. My vantage point was not ideal but at least I could hear the music very well. Fleet Foxes is almost a band you could enjoy even more with your eyes closed, their beautiful harmonies washing over you amidst the throngs of people. Their music has some folk elements for sure, and is definitely of the slower pace but no doubt absolutely beautiful. Best to hear it for yourself, check out the video I shot below. Then go get some of their records, great music to chill out to if you know what I mean.

So with that Day 2 of Pitchfork was over and another great day of music came to an end. I'll be sure to write about the last day soon, although I may have to first get to the insane Lollapalooza experience I just had. Right now I am in Casper, WY on a job and will be traveling back to Nashville soon (after I visit some friends in Denver) so I should have some time to write in there. For now though I sign off, and hope you will check out some of the awesome bands mentioned above that you haven't heard of.