Pitchfork Music Festival 2011, Saturday: G-Side
First off, let's quit with the "swag." We're a day away from Odd Future and I'm already sick of hearing it—hearing it from the hip-hop acts, and especially hearing it from the kids in the crowd. One kid up front for Das Racist shouted it the entire set. It's starting to feel like "word up," circa 1996. We may even be veering into "cool beans" territory.
In any case, G-Side at least earns the right to shout "swag." The Alabama hip-hop duo bobs and weaves across the stage. Live rap is often knocked as being lesser than rock & roll, but the MCs at Pitchfork have always been a highlight. Even when they suck up to the crowd, as G-Side does, with a call and response of "Ain't no party like a Pitchfork party, cuz a Pitchfork party don't stop." I've been to those parties. People go off in corners and debate Animal Collective too much at the Pitchfork parties.
But G-Side provokes an array of synchronized arm activity in the audience—fist raising, finger pointing, palm pumping. I don't see Woods doing that. Even if they're a touch awkward coming from a horde of white kids, the chants of "We get money!" and "Lean to tha left!" raise the energy to at least four levels above chillwave.
ST 2 Lettaz, in a black muscle shirt, jumps off stage and leans into the crowd. He flows a little more poetically than his gruffer partner, Yung Clova. Lettaz begins one song a cappella, breathtakingly, and it connects better than anything else in the set, divorced of the towel-waving and slogan shouting. Overall, the tracks mix of early Outkast and early T.I. Definitely Southern, with slow-roll soul samples and tumbling synthetic snares. "I've got a jones in my bones for the street," goes one refrain. It's kinda cheesy, kinda dated, but charming in a throwback way I haven't really heard since Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. An underused female backup singer, with shaved temples and a feather earthing, pumps up the emotional level, belting a bit operatically at the smokedout opening, and slipping into Kayne's "Power" refrain later. If it wasn't for that inevitable "swag" blurting, and the Yeezy reference, this could be 1997, Piedmont Park, Atlanta. And I'm nostalgic.