For the first time in recent memory, the sun wasn't scorching and the heavens weren't unleashing torrents of rain during the first day of Pitchfork Music Festival. With temperatures in the mid-70s and cool breeze wafting over the midday crowd, it almost felt like Union Park had been transported several months forward in time. You know, maybe we should just move this whole shindig to the more temperate climate of autumn.
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As the line to enter the festival wrapped around the park, Hundred Waters kicked off the day with a beautiful set of it's eerie electro rock. The Skrillex associates stuck closely to material from their recent The Moon Rang Like a Bell LP, augmented with some Jethro Tull–style flute played by lead singer Nicole Miglis. It served as a relaxing start to the day, just before all the kids ran off to dance to the aggressive hooks of Factory Floor.
Sharon Van Etten was a far cry from the shy, solo singer-songwriter who opened the festival a few years ago. With several albums under her belt and a full band backing her up, the former record store clerk confidently led the group through tunes like "Serpents" and "Taking Chances." You know you've come a long way when Goose Island brews a beer in your honor (the SVE Kolsch, a dry and refreshing German pale lager). Speaking of dry, a late afternoon set by Sun Kil Moon ran the risk of being a little too relaxed, featuring a seated Mark Kozelek and a handful of tunes from his latest record, Benji.
In terms of legacy acts, Neneh Cherry was the day's most pleasant surprise, turning in an upbeat set that ably demonstrated her versatile voice, complete with a laid-back rendition of her 1988 hit, "Buffalo Stance." In comparison, Italian producer and synth wizard Gorgio Moroder was a bit of a disappointment. The recent Daft Punk collaborator camped out behind a laptop and played the part of an '80s DJ for 45 minutes, compiling a playlist that included plenty of tunes he produced, including Blondie's "Call Me" and Donna Summers' "Hot Stuff."
Then, of course, there was Beck. Anyone who was worried that he was going to stick to the gorgeous, sleepy tracks from Morning Phase quickly had their fears put to rest. From the fuzzed out intro of "Devil's Haircut" to the closing strains of an expansive version of "Where It's At" which punctuated the encore, the catalog-spanning set touched on just about every era of his career. Yes, even the glorious falsetto of "Debra."