Pitchfork Music Festival 2011, Saturday: Gang Gang Dance
Resembling a cross between a janitor and a shaman, a young man strode ahead of Gang Gang Dance, blessing the stage with burning sage before the NYC quintet settled in. Soon enough it became clear that this wasn't just some crew member tasked with the band's oddball request, but an honorary member of the group, his "Artist" lanyard cementing his elite status. Amid a roster of musical acts that often defy genre, Gang Gang Dance raise the bar ever higher. The number of drums on stage outnumbered the amount typically used by a dozen acts in a single day. It can't be a coincidence that its name calls to mind Bow Wow Wow. With several members thwacking away at any given time, the group often risks becoming one big technicolor drum circle. But as the set took shape the melodies began to peak out above the tribal din, emitting traces of trance, dancehall, new age, neosoul—all of it a few light years removed from its foundation.
From the looks of it singer (and percussionist, natch) Lizzi Bougatsos seemed to be having the time of her life, diving into the crowd and surfing a sea of hands like a pro. "I'm showered in your love, dripping in it" she cooed. Guitarist Josh Diamond remains the most enigmatic member, coaxing tones from his six-string that absolutely defy the instrument, seemingly extraterrestrial. I'd love to get a peak at his pedal board. Toward the end of the set the group delivered the dubbed-out "MindKilla" off this year's Eye Contact, the group's first for 4AD (and if the crowd's reception was any indication not the last). Quoting the children's lullabye "Hush, Little Baby," Bougatsos toasted "that mockingbird," conjuring a kindergarten teacher more than a rock star. If the entire sun-bleached audience were to have been lulled into a midday slumber afterwards it'd be hard to blame them.