P4k 2011 Day 3: The Fresh & Onlys, Yuck and Kurt Vile & the Violators
Kicking off the third and final day of the 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival with a welcome burst of energy made all the more impressive for defying the sweltering heat, San Francisco’s Fresh & Onlys mixed upbeat power-pop rhythms and weirder, more moody guitars and vocals for a set that, while it wasn’t particularly original, at least had an inspiring pulse.
The quartet also flashed a laconic wit. “Stick around and you’re gonna hear some other bands,” they cracked at one point, their lack of enthusiasm for that idea made obvious.
Rating for the Fresh & Onlys: 6.8
Far more impressive, the English group Yuck was no more original, but they do more interesting things with their wide-ranging thievery. As my editor Andrew Gill noted, for rock fans with roots in a certain era, say 1985 to 1995, the fun lies in identifying from whom the group is borrowing and how they’re mixing and matching those elements: “Hey, that’s like a Lush vibe paired with a Pavement guitar solo and a little Dinosaur Jr. thrown in!”
But you don’t have to know or appreciate any of that to be swept away by the band’s noisy swells, on its recent self-titled album or, even better, onstage.
Rating for Yuck: 8.7.
Though he can be notoriously shy and withdrawn at times—not for nothing do critics often invoke Nick Drake—Kurt Vile came out of his shell during a heat-of-the-afternoon main-stage set, stressing the second half of a sound that, at its roots, essentially is folk-rock.
Maybe he knew he’d have to up the energy to carry the dusty, sweaty ball field. Or maybe he decided to try to roll right over the crowd of several hundred Odd Future fans staked out at the opposite stage, rowdily chanting “F*ck Steve Harvey!” and “Swag!” and “Kill people, burn sh*t, f*ck school!” before, during, and after Yuck’s set and into his. Either way, a few mellower moments aside, set number two of the day kept the momentum going.
Rating for Kurt Vile and the Violators: 8.1.