Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review | The Atlas Moth
Most creatures of the night wither and die when dragged into the sunlight. Not the Atlas Moth. Chicago's hometown hell spawn, who play a seamless mixture of extreme subgenres, had the unenviable task of warming up the crowd an hour into the afternoon. If the opening timeslot irked these bruisers, they hid it well. Frontman Stavros Giannopolous flashed a grin as big as his banshee shriek, at one point cupping his hands into a heart shape over his chest.
Perhaps aware that one half of its black/stoner metal equation played stronger at this early hour, the band amped up the boogie, tearing through the bluesier cuts from last year's Ache for the Distance. (Only the boys in Liturgy, scheduled to play the same stage later in the afternoon, made a better heavy record in 2011). Songs like the swaggering "Perpetual Generations" benefited from the vocal interplay between Giannopolous and fellow guitarist David Kush, whose rich baritone is the group's most accessible component. Late into the 40-minute set, the band even dragged saxophonist Bruce Lamont (of Yukuza, Bloodiest and Led Zeppelin II) and trumpeter Jaimie Branch out for the one-two punch of "Holes in the Desert" and Ache's title track—although the instruments occasionally disappeared into the apocalyptic mix, drowned out by the trio of squealing guitars.
The all-ages crowd responded with polite admiration. One was reminded of a similarly blistering, afternoon P4k appearance from Japanese noisemakers Boris in 2007; then too, the indie-weaned onlookers seemed more dazed than rocked. Maybe the Atlas Moth should have dusted off its berserk cover of the Mama and the Papas' "California Dreaming." The kids might have recognized that one, even in its warped new form. "Get fucked up before Godspeed," Giannopolous instructed all of us, before launching into their triumphant final number. "I know that's what I'll be doing tonight." For once, he seemed to be speaking a language Pitchfork attendees could understand.