You like lists. I like lists. The internet is built upon lists. It’s true. No one would make money on internet advertising if it wasn’t for the 10 hottest beach bodies, 10 best foods for depression, 10 worst cities for pizza, 50 worst sports uniforms of all time, and the 25 top albums of the 1990s that are different than the last time we posted our 25 favorite albums from the ’90s. So, in the spirit of lists and making money on the internet, I present 10 Bands Not to Miss and 1 Band That Will Be Hard to Miss at the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival.
10 Bands Not To Miss
1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
When: Saturday, July 14th 8:30 (GREEN Stage)
Why: True story: This rather large, instrumental rock band from Canada was once detained on their way to a gig in Oklahoma at the height of post 9/11 terrorism scare. Beginning in 2011, after a seven year hiatus that had nothing to do with being enemies of the great state of America, they returned to touring. Their massive sound, which pulls as much from metal as it does from classical, and is big on big crescendos, is not to be missed.
Rock: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Moya
2. Wild Flag
When: Saturday 5:15 (RED Stage)
Why: Let me put this out there: I heart Carrie Brownstein. Loved her in the ’90s alt-rock band Sleater-Kinney. Loved her music column for NPR. Love, love, lover her and Fred Armisen on the tv show Portlandia. Love her new band Wild Flag. If our paths should happen to cross on the Pitchfork Festival grounds, I’d probably sweat and stutter and barely be able to get out a word. Carrie Brownstein makes me an awkward teenager.
Rock: Wild Flag – Future Crimes (Live at SXSW 2011)
3. The Men
When: Sunday, July 15th 3:45 (BLUE Stage)
Why: This Brooklyn quartet just happened to release one of the top rock albums of 2012 to date, drawing on such varying influences as Husker Du, Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3, and The Rolling Stones. And not only do they have all of the right references, they are one of the rare rock bands able to take in all of those touchstones and turn it into something uniquely their own.
Rock: The Men – Open Your Heart (Live on KEXP)
4. Sleigh Bells
When: Saturday 6:15 (GREEN)
Why: Some (including myself) have labeled Sleigh Bells’ blend of electronics, hair metal riffs and sing-song lyrics to be too obvious, too blunt, and too tiresome on the ears. But do you know where too blunt and too obvious works really well? In front of 25,000 people on a festival stage.
Rock: Sleigh Bells – Comeback Kid (Live at Terminal 5)
When: Saturday 2:50 (BLUE)
Why: Liturgy play loud, fast, and ecstatic metal that sounds like black metal, but don’t necessarily appeal to black metal fans because they don’t look or act the part. They look more like indie rockers, but they don’t necessarily fit in at an indie rock festival either. Consequently, it will be interesting to see the crowd’s reaction when they find themselves face to face with Liturgy’s heavenly racket. Will they flee for the other stage? Will they shred along?
Rock: Liturgy – High Gold (Live)
6. Ty Segall
When: Sunday 3:20 (RED)
Why: Ty Segall is quickly becoming the Robert Pollard of modern garage rock. This year alone, he’ll release three albums — One solo (coming this fall), one as the Ty Segall Band, and one with White Fence. And like Pollard, he’s got no shortage of instantly likable pop songs that make his productivity a blessing of riches, not a curse of toss-away tracks.
Rock: Ty Segall – Girlfriend (Live at Sonic Boom Records)
7. Cloud Nothings
When: Saturday 1:45 (RED)
Why: Local boys done good have been doing very good for themselves of late. Since moving on from the bedroom pop sounds of their debut, this Cleveland four piece have reached an even wider audience with a more muscular, ’90s alt-rock sound.
Rock: Cloud Nothings – Wasted Days (Live @ Fuse Studios)
When: Friday, July 15th 6:15 (BLUE)
Why: Even as the recent Cleveland performance by this Vancouver duo was marred by poor sound quality, Japandroids remain a must see band this coming weekend in Chicago. For like Sleigh Bells, they are a festival band. Their throwback anthems, equal parts punk rock and classic rock, are tailor made for a sunny day on the big stage.
Rock: Japaandroids – House that Heaven Build (Live at CAMP Basement)
9. Milk Music
When: Sunday 1:55 (BLUE)
Why: Not all nostalgia is created equal. There’s the stuff that sounds like Billy Ocean or Bel Biv Devoe (I’m thinking of you, Mr. Best New Music), and the stuff that sounds like Northwest sludge before grunge became popular. I prefer the sludge, and if your here reading this preview, I’m going to assume you’d rather hear some honest, hard-charging rock than a re-envisioning of “Get Outta My Dreams and Into My Car,” too.
Rock: Milk Music – Out of My World (Live in San Francisco)
10. Thee Oh Sees
When: Sunday 2:50 (BLUE)
Why: C’mon. Did you expect me to pick Feist (Friday, 8:20 Green Stage) or Dirty Projectors (Friday, 7:20 Red) at number ten? Honestly, I did consider Tim Hecker (Friday, 5:15 Blue) and Lower Dens (Friday, 3:30 Red) for this spot, but Hecker’s ambient electronics may not translate too well at a festival, and Lower Dens don’t strike me as an especially thrilling live act, either. Thee Oh Sees, on the other hand, play a style of garage rock that’s a go-go and get down dance party waiting to happen.
Rock: Thee Oh Sees – Tidal Wave (Live on KEXP)
1 Band Who Will be Hard to Miss:
1. Vampire Weekend
When: 8:30 (GREEN) Sunday
Why: When they first burst onto the scene, this band of New York prepsters both won over and rankled the indie-rock establishment with their worldly pop songs. But after two well-received records are they headliner material? Consider these names: Spoon, The Flaming Lips, Pavement, and TV On the Radio. Those are the headliners who’ve closed down the past four Pitchfork Music Festivals. Can Vampire Weekend draw as well as those more established bands? Do they have the same crossover appeal? We’ll find out soon enough once Sunday night comes around.
Rock: Vampire Weekend – A Punk (Live at Isle of Wight)
The full lineup and set times for the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival can be found here. As in past years, I Rock Cleveland will be in Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival, providing full coverage of all the happenings.