Pitchfork Day 3: Beach House, Lightning Bolt, and St. Vincent

July 18, 2010

 
If it's this sleepy next year, I'm blogging from the pool (photo by Kate Gardiner/NewsHour)
 

By mid-afternoon, it was time for more mellow as Beach House, the ethereal duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, played a wispy, dreamy set of songs that functioned as intimate pillow talk—that just happened to be overhead by 18,000 people.


Beach House (photo by Kate Gardiner/NewsHour)

“You know, as headphones music, this stuff is great,” said one concertgoer standing beside me during the Beach House set. “But here… now… really?” My thoughts exactly, and obviously expressed not for the first time during this long, somnambulistic weekend.


Lightning Bolt (photo by Kate Gardiner/NewsHour)

Thankfully—finally!—there was a welcome shot of adrenaline from the next main-stage act, the aptly named Lightning Bolt from Providence, Rhode Island. The earth-shaking, cascading rhythmic assaults of drummer and vocalist Brian Chippendale (he had one of those headset microphones hidden beneath his Lucha Libre mark) and bassist Brian Gibson were so powerful and overwhelming that it was hard to fathom that they were being churned out by only two guys—and both named Brian, no less.

 


 (photo by Kate Gardiner/NewsHour)

The churling, co-ed mosh pit in front of the stage erupted during the first notes of Lightning Bolt’s set, and it never let up. Clearly, at least some of the crowd filling Union Park was as eager for an outlet for their adrenaline as I have been.

Alas, things soon calmed down again with St. Vincent. With the temperature decreasing ever so slightly and the sun finally setting—though it had been obscured by clouds anyway for much of the day, anyway, with the threatened thunderstorms thankfully holding off—Annie Clark and a sizable band lilted through the songs she prefers to think of as mini-film scores, with lush orchestral pop arrangements and frequent hints of naïve and childlike touches straight from vintage Disney soundtracks.


St. Vincent (photo by Kate Gardiner/NewsHour)

It was charming. It was enchanting. But it was hardly revelatory or mind-blowing. And no, I ain’t jaded, and yes, I still love Pitchfork. But where in 2010 were the sort of shear-the-top-of-your-head-off experiences like Art Brut, Os Mutantes, and Mission of Burma (2006), Clipse, Girl Talk, Mastodon, and Battles (2007), Les Savvy Fav, Titus Andronicus, and F— Buttons (2008), or F*cked Up, Ponytail, and the Vivian Girls (2009)?

In way too short supply, that’s where.