Smile Politely

C-U’s version of Pitchfork Music Festival 2014

Festival season is in full swing, as people travel from all around the country to visit particular festivals that spark their musical interests. In the midwest, we know a thing or two (or three… let’s be honest, there’s a lot) about festivals, especially in the indie rock realm, and this weekend we’ll be heading up to Pitchfork Music Festival once again. As we’ve done for several years now, we’ll be documenting our trip up there, as many people from Central Illinois head up for the weekend to see some of the latest bands buzzed about, or some longtime indie rock staples. This year, there are plenty of both — whether you’re interested in seeing a newly reunited Neutral Milk Hotel or Slowdive, catch Beck for the first time, or you’re more into Grimes, Danny Brown, or plenty of others.

In order to make this interesting for our Champaign-Urbana readers, for the past few years I’ve put together a guide to the festival in conjunction with the C-U music scene. Venues and local bands that would hypothetically make sense in a pairing if the show would happen here.

Here’s who our team plans on catching this weekend, and we’ll bring a full recap with photos early next week in case you wanted to see what went down.


Mike ‘N Molly’s (Outdoors) — Motes

If you made the mistake of missing Hundred Waters at Pygmalion 2012 like I did, you won’t be making that mistake twice. After the release of their debut back a couple of years ago, and this year’s excellent The Moon Rang Like A Bell, this will be a solid way to start out Pitchfork 2014, especially on the small stage. For this, I’d put Hundred Waters outside at Mike ‘N Molly’s, and on a summer night in C-U with 

FACTORY FLOOR (BLUE) — 4:15 p.m.
The Canopy Club (Main Room) — DJ Belly

The DFA Records label is pretty good about keeping things within the theme of dance/experimental/rock, and Factory Floor is a UK outfit that fits well within that realm. LCD Soundsystem, Holy Ghost, The Rapture, just to name a few, find their home there as well. Since they are a tough one to pin down as far as pairing with a local, putting the fluidity of DJ Belly here makes a lot of sense. Put the party in Canopy Club and go with it.

SHARON VAN ETTEN (RED) — 5:30 p.m.
The Highdive (Indoors) — The Fights

Sharon Van Etten has always been brilliant. After the releases of Tramp and Epic, her follow up to those two records came out earlier this year, and is pretty incredible. Are We There encompasses and then expands on her excellent catalog and has brought on quite the buzz in 2014. I remember seeing her on the first day of Pitchfork a tiny crowd in the first time slot of the weekend. Things will be different this weekend. Pair her with the alt-country tunes of the Fights and put her in the Highdive (because it’s already happening soon enough).

SUN KIL MOON (GREEN) — 6:25 p.m.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts — Tigerbeat

Mark Kozelek will be bringing his outfit Sun Kil Moon to C-U later in the year, but this will be a good preview of what is to come. Benji is a career-affirming feat, even though his past releases are solid, but nothing has quite brought upon the amount of attenion Benji has recieved in terms of accolades. Depression and death smother the release, and he managed to wrap it up into an intensely satisfying listen. A singer-songwriter at heart, you can put him and Tigerbeat together for this, and since Kozelek will be performing in Krannert for Pygmalion, why not hypothetically do it here?

The Canopy Club — Blade Runner

You most likely have heard Giorgio Morderer’s name over the past year, but not necessarily for his own work. You might remember those robots that he worked with for Random Access Memories, a highlight from 2013, without a doubt. It will be interesting to see what kind of set he delivers as the sun is setting on Union Park on night one, and pair him with the experimental Blade Runner project from C-U and things could get weird. We like it that way.

BECK (GREEN) — 8:30 p.m.
The Highdive (Outdoors) — Curb Service

Beck is coming off of his first record in a handful of years to headline this year’s Pitchfork Festival. Although Morning Phase was met with very high acclaim to most, there were some that didn’t find it as appetizing as previous efforts. Nevertheless, Morning Phase is a “companion piece” to the classic Sea Change from his early oughts days. Beck has the tendency to mix a bit of a hip-hop blend into things, so pairing with Curb Service makes sense to me.

Others performing throughout the day: Neneh Cherry (4:45 p.m., Green), The Haxan Cloak (5:15 p.m., Blue), SZA (6:15 p.m., Blue), and Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks (7:15 p.m., Blue)


Mike ‘N Molly’s — The Dirty Feathers

Skuzzed out pop-rock outfit Twin Peaks will also make an appearance at this year’s Pygmalion Festival, and although Pitchfork has a tendency to throw in a couple of Chicago bands here and there as it takes place there, Twin Peaks are deserving of the bid. They have a new record coming out, but I would recommend checking out their previous release Sunken for a taste. Although they are little bit more glammed-out than the Dirty Feathers, the skuzzy guitars wouldn’t clash one bit.

The Canopy Club (Void Room) — Wicked Walls

Another Elephant 6 outfit joins the mix (as Neutral Milk Hotel leads the way) a year or so after the Olivia Tremor Control played a few years back (RIP Bill Doss). They are more on the psych-rock end of the spectrum, but their pop elements and infusions will make any Elephant 6 fan happy. Pair them with the crunchy guitars of Wicked Walls and cram them into the Void Room for a good time.

WILD BEASTS (GREEN) — 2:30 p.m. 
The Highdive (Indoors) — Feral States

Wild Beasts mix indie rock with art rock and avant-garde quite well, as their records continue to build up more and more of a following. Post Two Dancers, they have been fairly prolific, issuing a new album every year or so. This year, they put out Present Tense, so expect that to take up a bunch of their set at Pitchfork. Pair them with the avant-garde outfit Feral States (formerly Fauve) here for a solid match.

CLOUD NOTHINGS (RED) — 3:20 p.m.
Urbana-Champaign IMC — Bookmobile!

The racous garage punk/indie rockers Cloud Nothings make their return to Pitchfork Music Festival after performing a few years ago. They’ll grace the same stage they had previously, which I admittedly missed them in 2012, but saw them earlier this year at Bonnaroo. They were — for a lack of a better term — hypnotizing. They draw out their songs which creates an almost transe-like jam portion of their set, and their most recent Here and Nowhere Else might not be as good as Attack on Memory (at least in my opinion), but it’s damn good. The “punk”-ish venue of the IMC and a garage punk pairing, Bookmobile!, would be awesome.

PUSHA T (GREEN) — 4:15 p.m.
The Canopy Club — T.R.U.T.H.

One half of the great Clipse will be performing this year after the release of his well-receieved solo record My Name Is My Name from last year. I had a chance to see him at Bonnaroo as well, and although the highs weren’t that high, sprinkle it in with some guest appearances on some Kanye West songs, and a medley of others, this is a worthwhile set to catch. Paired with a local emcee T.R.U.T.H. and this one would bring folks out to Canopy Club.

TUNE-YARDS (RED) — 5:15 p.m.
The Highdive (Indoors) — Megan Johns / Moonwish

The quirkiness of tUnE-yArDs doesn’t always appeal to me, but while I’m killing time waiting for The Field, this isn’t one that I would mind catching. I didn’t care for the release from earlier this year as much, but W H O K I L L and Bird-Brain were worthwhile. Megan Johns and her outfit Moonwish would make a good pairing within the walls of the Highdive for a C-U show.

THE FIELD (BLUE) — 6:45 p.m.
The Highdive (Indoors)— Kirkwood West

Experimental music at its finest, The Field has been prolific as anyone pushing the boundaries within the dance/electro/indie world. Last year’s Cupid’s Head was an excellent follow up to Looping State of Mind, and this is one that is high up on my list as I missed him last year at the festival. A rare repeat, indeed, but a good one. Put him with house/producer Kirkwood West if he were to ever come to C-U.

ST. VINCENT (RED) — 7:25 p.m.
The Canopy Club — Common Loon

Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is once again having another awesome year after her self-titled record is making people ga ga once again. Yes, I just said ga ga, because that’s what people do when it comes to St. Vincent. She’s great, and her fourth album is just as good as the rest, and quirkier than ever. Put the dream-rockers Common Loon on stage and you’ve got yourself a hell of a bill.

The Canopy Club — Tractor Kings

Although we don’t have to imagine Neutral Milk Hotel coming back to C-U because it already happened, we can just talk about how great their live show after years of being disbanded. The In The Aeroplane Over The Sea songs sound as good as ever, and they have the energy of a band that hasn’t missed a step. 

Others performing throughout the day: Ka (1:45 p.m., Red), Empress Of (2:50 p.m., Blue),  Mas Ysa (3:45 p.m., Blue), The Range (4:45 p.m., Blue), Kelela (5:45 p.m., Blue), FKA Twigs (7:45 p.m., Blue)


Mike ‘N Molly’s — Nectar

Speedy Ortiz bring their 90s indie rock influenced selves to Union Park, and they’ll make their way down later this year for Pygmalion as well. Last year’s Major Arcada was a real treat, and although grungy at times, makes a good impression upon listening. Check it out if you haven’t — as this will be an excellent start to the last day at Pitchfork 2014.

DIIV (RED) — 1:45 p.m.
The Canopy Club (Void Room) — Single Player

The dream-pop outfit DIIV has been fairly quiet over the past few years since their release Oshin gave them some traction within the indie rock music circuit. Their lead man ran into some trouble here and there along the way, but not to worry, they will be impressive and entracing, as their live shows turn into psych-filled jams within the realm of what they’re known for. Captured Tracks is their homebase as a label, and it makes a lot of sense with bands like Beach Fossils, Craft Spells, and the others that are label mates.

DEAFHEAVEN (GREEN) — 2:30 p.m.
The Highdive (Indoor) — Ode Vinter

Where do I start with Deafheaven? Sunbather? Fucking amazing. Brutal, abrasive, chilling rock music that has so many different classifications, I can only start with black metal and say it has shoegaze influences. That doesn’t really do it justice, and their live show is just as gripping as the record is. Black metal reigns supreme, and Ode Vinter would be a fitting pairing to bludgeon the audience.

DUM DUM GIRLS (BLUE) — 3:45 p.m.
The Canopy Club (Main Room) — We the Animals

The glammed-out rock of Dum Dum Girls stays true on Too True, and continues to build on their short-yet-sweet catalog of EPs and full-lengths. End of Daze is still most likely the best thing they’ve ever done, but take a listen and you’ll be satisfied no matter where you land. We the Animals have a similar glam about them, and would make a nice pairing here in my estimation.

REAL ESTATE (RED) — 5:15 p.m.
The Highdive (Indoors) — The Superior State

Ah, the summer band of bands. Real Estate will bring their follow up to 2011’s Days called Atlas to Chicago (as well as C-U later this year) for their first appearance at Pitchfork since 2012. It was one of the better sets I saw that weekend, and I expect nothing less than an improvement after hearing how good Atlas is as a follow-up. Inside the Highdive would suit them well, and the Superior State’s indie/shoegaze vibes would pair well.

The Canopy Club (Void Room) — Woodie

It isn’t easy to describe what Majical Cloudz sound like, so I’m not even going to try. Listen to Impersonator and you’ll know for yourself, and the gripping lyricism of lead singer Devon Welsh. Woodie bring a hazier go at things, but just as drugged out and foggy as anything in C-U. 

SLOWDIVE (GREEN) — 6:15 p.m. 
The Highdive (Indoors) — Withershins

Finally. A chance to see Slowdive in the flesh. It will be happening this weekend, and it is one of the more anticipated sets I have on my list for the weekend. After years and years of silence, they have been taking the stage at several festivals, so the UK shoegaze geniuses will have our attention this weekend. Although this is a tough pairing, you have to group shoegaze bands together, so Withershins get the nod here. They’re a bit crunchier, but very dreamy at times.

GRIMES (RED) — 7:25 p.m.
The Canopy Club (Main Room) — Prologic Rebel Base Ensemble

Grimes has basically blown up since the release of her critically acclaimed Visions from a few years ago. You’ve most likely heard the singles, but after a few listens, the whole thing starts to sink in and feel good as a whole record. She also recently wrote a song that was meant for Rihanna, so, that’s something. Prologic Rebel Base Ensemble brings the party, even though they don’t perform frequently, it would be a cool one to see.

The Highdive (Outdoors) — The Gr8Thinkaz

From Compton kid to mega-huge superstar in one record, Kendrick Lamar will be closing things out this weekend with what will certainly be a “hits”-filled (good kid, m.A.A.d. city filled, rather) set. Lamar recently performed here in C-U at the Assembly Hall, which is most likely the appropriate venue for a performer like him, but I’m going to put this fella outside with a collective of hip-hop locals — The Gr8Thinkaz.

Others performing throughout the day: Mutual Benefit (1 p.m., Green), Isaiah Rashad (2:50 p.m., Blue), Earl Sweatshirt (3:20 p.m., Red), SchoolboyQ (4:15 p.m., Green), Jon Hopkins (4:45 p.m., Blue), DJ Spinn (6;45 p.m., Blue), Hudson Mohawke (7:45 p.m., Blue)

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