Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review | Oneohtrix Point Never
I arrived a few minutes late to Oneohtrix Point Never—that's pronounced own-OH-trix from what I was told earlier today by CHIRP's Mary Nisi—on account of having to escape the massive letdown that was Lady Gaga. Yes, Lady Gaga. She was hanging side stage during the previous Blue Stage set from rapper Kendrick Lamar, but never actually made the five– to ten-foot leap onstage. I peeked at Chavez over on the Red Stage during the set change from Kendrick to Oneohtrix, and when I got back there was music playing through the Blue Stage speakers. I'm not gonna lie, there was a minute or two where I couldn't tell if Oneohtrix (or Daniel Lopatin, as his mother probably prefers) was doing his thing, or if it was some random sound guy setting levels as incidental music played over the PA. It turned out to be the former, but this kind of euphoric ambience would be perfect for any set transition.
Oneohtrix turned out to be the perfect thing at that point in the day, a soothing sonic balm after being bleached by the sun for the last several hours, mixing vintage synth tapestries and sundry electronics into a kind of organic drift that eventually gave way to glitchier asides. Sometimes it most closely approximated sound art; other times it resembled electronic dance music, if only for a second. Syncopated textures occasionally swelled before Lopatin changed course, drifting toward a more relaxed variant, removing the dense grid of beats until the results existed on their own plane, spatious and elevated. For his part, Lopatin seemed to relish his role as puppetmaster, tweaking and adjusting, gauging whatever it is in his head that says at this point bring in the bird calls; swell this and stutter that, make it squeal, at any given moment. Sure, his stage show is nothing spectacular, but he makes up for it in unpredictability. It's that heightened sense that makes him in-demand among the experimental community, and translates to Pitchfork surprisingly well.