Pitchfork Music Festival 2012 | Concert preview

Sizing up Union Park’s annual indie summit.
 (Photograph: Andrew Zaeh)
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Photograph: Andrew ZaehBig K.R.I.T.
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Chavez
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Danny Brown
 (Photograph: Jason Frank Rothenberg)
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Photograph: Jason Frank RothenbergDirty Projectors
 (Photograph: Mary Rozzi)
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Photograph: Mary RozziFeist
 (Photograph: Shawn Brackbill)
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Photograph: Shawn BrackbillLower Dens
 (Photograph: David Torch)
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Photograph: David TorchWild Flag
 (Photograph: David Torch)
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Photograph: David TorchWild Flag
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All together now
Remember when TV on the Radio dropped “Waiting Room” last year? Expect a similar flood of audience voices to coalesce as Feist counts out “1 2 3 4” (Fri 13 at 8:20pm, green stage). The same communal vibe is inevitable when Cults “Go Outside” (Sat 14 at 3:20pm, red stage), and with Vampire Weekend (Sun 15 at 8:30pm, green stage), well, take your pick. We’ll lump Wild Flag (Sat 14 at 5:15pm, red stage) in here, too—the lady rockers’ anthemic romp “Romance” is a potent uniter.

Second time around
Sure, it’s no Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath, but the Chavez reunion (Sun 15 at 5:15pm, red stage) is hardly chopped liver. Pairing jagged hooks with a clobbering attack, the NYC four-piece was one of the more promising outfits passed over by the ’90s alt-rock boom. We’re impressed with the festival’s unusually outré choice for Saturday’s headliner, the reconvened Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Sat 14 at 8:30pm, green stage), while a similar Clinton-era nostalgia wafts from Elephant 6 outfit the Olivia Tremor Control (Fri 13 at 4:35pm, green stage).

Hip-hop 2.0
Previous years of the fest have focused on favorites from the genre’s history book, but 2012 brings a thoroughly contemporary selection of rising rappers. A$AP Rocky (Fri 13 at 5:30pm, red stage) is the one with the big record deal, but we’re more excited for Mississippi’s syrupy Big K.R.I.T. (Fri 13 at 6:25pm, green stage), not to mention Detroit export and critics’ darling Danny Brown (Sat 14 at 7:40pm, blue stage), who captured our attention a year ago with a startling cameo during Das Racist’s set. We’re most curious about Kendrick Lamar (Sun 15 at 4:45pm, blue stage), riding high on his Dr. Dre–assisted “The Recipe,” not to mention his crewmate Schoolboy Q (Sat 14 at 5:45pm, blue stage); together they make up half of L.A.’s Black Hippy collective.

Hometown pride
For the local acts, you’ll wanna stake out the blue stage and get there early. Outer Minds’ melodic jangle (Fri 13 at 3:20pm, blue stage) finds a nice contrast in the metallic angst of the Atlas Moth (Sat 14 at 1pm, blue stage). Fans of Pitchfork’s chillwave endorsements will find a lot to like in the ethereal indie of A Lull (Sun 15 at 1pm, blue stage), while XL-signed local breakout Willis Earl Beal (Fri 13 at 4:15pm, blue stage) remains the guy to watch, an unorthodox performer for whom anything goes live.

Return engagements
Impressive new albums from fest vets Beach House (Sun 15 at 7:25pm, red stage) and Dirty Projectors (Fri 13 at 7:20pm, red stage) speak to the ambition of each, and may explain how they landed coveted slots on the schedule just ahead of main stage headliners. Another Pitchfork site fixture, Deerhunter, is taking the year off, but the weekend wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by Bradford Cox in some capacity, hence a repeat engagement from his solo endeavor, Atlas Sound (Sat 14 at 2:30pm, green stage), with Deerhunter bandmate Lockett Pundt’s Lotus Plaza (Sat 14 at 1:55pm, blue stage) oddly overlapping.

Honorable mentions, hitting early
Some of the weekend’s most promising stuff starts out each day. Baltimore’s Lower Dens (Fri 13 at 3:30pm, red stage) have honed their sound into a soothing motoric pulse that’s complemented by the candy-coated kraut-pop issued by Portland, Oregon’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Sun 15 at 1:45pm, red stage). The Psychic Paramount (Sat 14 at 1pm, green stage) ups the ante, its subsuming sonic wash an eye-popping opening to the afternoon.

The Pitchfork Music Festival runs Friday 13–Sunday 15 in Union Park.

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