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Review: Pitchfork Music Festival Day 3

Sunday, the final day of Pitchfork, arrived with a lot of anticipation. It was the only day of the festival to sell out. It was also the day of the festival with the fewest lower-rung up and comers. It was also the day of the much-hyped performance by Odd Future. It would be a tale of two festivals.
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Preview: Pitchfork Music Festival ’11

For six years, Pitchfork Media has been throwing a mid-summer bash in their hometown of Chicago with the goal of making a comfortable and affordable party, while still offering the best summer festival line-up around. It sounds lofty, but they did it, and they have done it every year since. Striking a balance between just below the radar acts, the up and comers, the newly notable, and independent music royalty. And they do it all for the absolute bottom price. This festival shames its expensive, inconvenient colleagues. Annually.

Take the line-up on just the “Blue Stage” on the first day of this year’s festival, Friday, July 15th. Dark, electronic, duo Gatekeeper open things up, to be followed by the looping, ukulele folk-punk world-beat darling, tUnE-YarDs. Then, the stage shifts to Curren$y, of Lil Wayne’s YMCMB label, followed by Brooklyn joke-rappers turned still-funny but credible actual rappers Das Racist. The Blue stage caps the opening day off with British dub-step wonderboy, new indie royalty, James Blake, who’s haunting, futuristic balladry will cap this stage off strangely. And perfectly. And that’s just one of the secondary stages. The main stage will only see 3 acts the first night, but they are also quite varied, in status as well as sound. The proggy and raucous Battles, alt elder-statesmen Guided By Voices, and indie royalty Animal Collective will command the “Green” stage, the festival’s main platform.

The festival also welcomes other legends, including art-rock super-hero Thurston Moore (supporting his fantastic new Beck-produced solo album) as well as Washington D.C.’s The Dismemberment Plan, supporting the Barsuk reissue of their seminal masterpiece, Emergency & I. Prolific festival favorites Deerhunter will also be joining the pack, supporting their newest, the brilliant Halcyon Digest.

There are a great many artists on this year’s line-up who are new to the radar and/or new to indie’s elite. I am not going to name very many of them, but a few who I am particularly excited to see are…
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The Murder Junkies at Longbranch Saloon, Knoxville, TN

I made my way through the fratty and thuggy sidewalk crowds- diminished slightly by the fact that it was a typically slow Tuesday. I passed some of the usual drama that you can see unfolding on Knoxville’s Cumberland Avenue on any given night: crying girls pointing in the faces of dudes with backwards ballcaps, angry men being led away, probably post-fight, stuff I see there regularly. But the malevolent masses may as well have kept it at home, their drama was already being eclipsed inside the legendary punk saloon, The Longbranch. Walking by The Longbranch, you might not even notice the venue, set back just a touch, nestled amongst chain restaurants and collegiate chaos. The Saloon is a rickety, two story house that looks both out of place and out of time. It appears like an illustration of a haunted house, subtle and creaky, and menacing- if you get close enough. If you had asked anyone on the Strip that night for directions to The Longbranch, it is a given that 90% would have never heard of it and would look surprised if you pointed it out, despite it’s size and proximity to the usual action. But tonight, there was more intensity and mess inside the ‘Branch than the rest of the city combined. The Murder Junkies were in town.
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TMS @ #SXSW Music: Day 3

Day three began with a special brunch at Fader Fort to raise awareness for the the Children’s Cancer Foundation’s initiation. Was great to take a breath from the oppressive, mighty, corporate overlords that rule SXSW and think outside of where our next open bar was coming from for a second…Not that we weren’t totally surrounded by Converse branding of course. At the brunch, we were treated to two special intimate performances, the first from Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna. Yuna is a new signing to the Fader label, a jazzy, solo artist, think a more soulful Regina Spektor. She was good and I’d be interested to hear her in a bigger setting.

Then as a surprise, Twin Shadow took the the mic for a handful of stripped down songs, which was just outstanding. His music stands up against anything. If you aren’t paying attention, start.
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