Pitchfork Music Festival 2009, The Electrifying Conclusion by Bobby Cardos
Entering the grounds Sunday afternoon, the park was obviously more crowded than on previous days. Excitement stirred in the shade of highway-work-zone-orange at Stage A in anticipation of The Flaming Lips. The newly diverse, costumed crowd gave reverberated pending bliss. But first up was The Mae Shi (according to Pitchfork, their final show together before re-organization; according to The Mae Shi, actually another band called Signals in disguise as The Mae Shi) whose members exuded post adolescent folk-punk-dance-electronica.
The next band I caught was Women (none of whom are) over at the B-stage. Part hit and part miss for me, but when they hit, they hit hard.
The weekend peaked during The Walkmen’s set. Having been in Spain fewer than 24 hours prior, the band divulged not a morsel of exhaustion, instead powering through a good part of one of last year’s better albums, You & Me, with a horn section where appropriate (purportedly called “Turkeyneck and the Calamaris”), also throwing in “The Rat” and a couple of songs from a forthcoming record for good measure.
For Grizzly Bear and The Flaming Lips, I hung out between the two stages, not dedicated enough to camp out for a decent spot for either (and knowing that a Lips show is pretty much great wherever you are so long as you can see). Drummer Christopher Bear declined Daniel Rossen’s offer to sing happy birthday to mark his 27th, and the band had to contend with the stage, which spent the second half of their set “humming,” but nothing was stopping their harmonies that night.
Then The Flaming Lips. The entire A and C stage area was essentially standing-room-only by the time their set was underway. Words like superfluous, extravagant and garish are understatements when a screen is projecting a technicolor silhouette of a nude woman dancing, finally closing in on her white-light vagina, from which the band emerged before going into their first song. This set was also supposed to be a “Write the Night” set, but, as Wayne Coyne was quick to point out, pretty much every set the Lips play is what the fans want to hear. And so they took some liberties, deviating from the pre-voted set to accept a fan’s request for the rarity “Enthusiasm for Life Defeats Existential Fear” (great song title), as well as some new songs. But they did play the number three song, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” and of course the number one “Do You Realize” as the set’s close. As usual, balloons and confetti were a constant throughout the set, Wayne rolled on the crowd in his plastic bubble, and a couple of dozen lucky fans got to dance in costumes on stage. Whatever you think of their music, The Flaming Lips live show is much more than churning out fan favorites. It’s truly an experience one has to see to believe, and it was the perfect way to close the weekend.
Bobby Cardos currently attends FordhamUniversity in Bronx, NY. Outside of literature and music, he enjoys the cooking and eating delicious foods and reciting quotes no reasonable person would bother to remember.