Pitchfork Music Festival 2009: Fucked Up + Bowerbirds
I thought I'd outgrown my hardcore phase years ago, but there’s something about Fucked Up that's got me hooked. Maybe that's what compelled me to take my girlfriend to see them at the Empty Bottle this past Valentine’s Day. Romantic, eh? But that’s another story. If you can stomach the cookie monster bark of massive singer Damian Abraham, a.k.a. Pink Eyes, then you'll find a surprisingly forward-looking band stretching beyond the stagnant boundaries of traditional punk. I heard a lot of complaints about the Canadian band's washy sound, but that's to be expected with a three guitar frontline outdoors.
Wearing a deflated beach ball in place of a cap (hey, it beats bashing your head bloody with a mic), the band plowed through a set list culled heavily from its latest for Matador, the Chemistry of Common Life, with rousing hardcore anthems. I missed the last song of the set, but was told that two of the guitarists launched themselves into the crowd, ultimately leading to at least one fan injury. I later saw said fan with an on-site medic near the Connector stage, sporting a fancy new bandage on his noggin, but with what looked like little more than a blemish.
I checked out a few minutes of Velocity Girl, er, I mean the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, before heading back to my refuge, the Balance stage, where North Carolina’s Bowerbirds were strumming through a gorgeous set of gauzy folk. It was probably the furthest possible thing from Fucked Up, but the North Carolina band was simply enchanting. Hyper-styled accordionist-pianist-singer Beth Tacular supported vocalist-guitarist Phil Moore, effortlessly gliding through elegant harmonies that were ambitious in scope, not unlike fellow east coasters Grizzly Bear or even a looser, dustier Dirty Projectors. Anchored by sturdy upright bass from Megafaun's Brad Cook and impressive fiddle-work and drumming from Mark Paulson, a beautiful sepia-tinged hue comforted the crowd like an afternoon siesta.