Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review | Chromatics
Although they've been around since 2001, Portland's Chromatics only recently received their seats on the buzz train via a little film called Drive, which features the quartet's blippy track "Tick Of The Clock." (It also stars a little teen idol—and every-other-woman-on-the-planet idol—named Ryan Gosling, which doesn't hurt popularity.) The band's set was delayed due to (what appeared to be) technical difficulties during sound check. And when things finally came together around 7:10pm, 25 minutes past schedule, the audience didn't quite know what to do with itself. And I don't mean that in a good way.
That's the tricky thing about these Italo-disco-inspired electronic acts: People 'round these parts never really seem to know whether to watch them or dance to them. To be clear: That's not a jab at the horde of white people who flooded the Blue stage. I think they really wanted a dance party. Given the number of packed pipes I saw passed, it's difficult to believe otherwise. But in the end, that's really up to the band, isn't it? The fact that they only got to play a handful of songs before they were cut off didn't help. But what they did bring to the scene simply fell short of the dp threshold.
That wouldn't have been a problem had there been even a little audible finesse or witty banter or, hell, some good ol'-fashioned histronics. But they fell short there, too. The one exception was producer/badass analogue synth tickler Johnny Jewell, the polished gem among the dull bunch, who shook and bounced and blasted his fuzz-producing box with a fervor. You might recognize him (and/or his enviable gear) from the duo Glass Candy, one I happen to prefer, whose discoier brand of Italo never fails in a live setting.
In fact, Chromatics singer Ruth Radelet could learn few things from Glass Candy's Ida No, a frontwoman force to be reckoned with—a lady equally as deft at bringing the funk as she is at bringing the posi-vibes rants about spirit animals and 17th-century astronomers. If you're an electronic act that ain't bringing the dance party, it's a good idea to bring a healthy dose of crazy.