Pitchfork 2014: Dont Stop Til You Break It
Last year, I predicted that Neutral Milk Hotel would be a headliner at Pitchfork Music Festival 2014. They ended up being one. Not much else was predictable about Pitchfork Music Festival 2014. From drop-outs (The Julie Ruin, Death Grips) to an unfortunate death (DJ Rashad), the festival was a completely different experience than many expected. In contrast to last year’s odd scheduling (hard rock on the first two days, hip hop on the third), 2014 was more of a mish-mosh with no real defining trends, minus the mellowness that pervaded Friday late afternoon (thanks to whoever scheduled Sharon Van Etten and Sun Kil Moon back-to-back).
Because of the absence of trends, for this year’s coverage, we’ve decided to recap Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 in superlatives, from the best sets and most disappointing sets to the best costumes and the worst costumes. All capsules are by me, unless otherwise noted. All photos are by Matthew Meschede.
For fans of Nineties avant-pop, last year’s Friday headlining set at Pitchfork Music Festival must have been a disappointment, as Bjork’s set was cut short by rain before she could even get deep into her superior early catalogue. In contrast, this year’s Friday night headliner immediately pleased those same fans of Nineties avant-pop, as Beck launched immediately into a rousing version of “Devil’s Haircut”. From then on, Beck didn’t stop, playing hit after hit from his eclectic collection of LPs. You really don’t get a taste for how eclectic Beck is until you see him live, as he juxtaposes Americana-influenced bummers like the classic “Lost Cause” and this year’s Morning Phase’s “Blue Moon” with the War-like disco of “Think I’m In Love”, which he paired with a cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”. By the time the encore rolled around, Beck’s set delved into utter silliness. He put police tape across the stage before he and his band came back on and performed Midnite Vultures’ “Sexx Laws” and “Deborah”, which was updated for 2014, including tales of Tinder swipes and being locked in the closet with R. Kelly. And when Beck whipped out a harmonica during set closer “Where It’s At”, his band had all but fallen apart—they were too busy riffing on The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” to play along with the hip hop beat of “Where It’s At”. But the crowd cared about the band’s endearing sloppiness as much as the band did about rules. Audience members were simply appreciative of the opportunity to see one of pop music’s most inventive artists of all time.