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Picture for Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 (page 2)

Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 (page 2)

Saturday

Dismemberment Plan

No words can do justice to the glory of a really good Dismemberment Plan show. Even after an eight-year hiatus, the Plan is still the Greatest Band on Earth, perhaps more than ever. Despite too few of the sweaty college kids in Union Park on Saturday being old enough to remember the Washington, D.C., quartet from its late-1990s heyday, many were singing and pogoing along like H Street lifers. The Plan's hyperactive set still translates so well because these dudes are actually the type of people the kids in the crowd aspire to be: NASA engineers and Huffington Post staffers who get wild and pound a keyboard with their foreheads on the weekend; who get so close and never really make it, but somehow make it anyhow. So when the flagbearers of spazz-rock got a chance to complete their six-month victory lap at the Pitchfork Festival (whose namesake website was among the band's earliest and most vehement champions), the "smiles all up and down" were completely apropos. When singer Travis Morrison fronted hip-hop and mixed pop with emo, it came off fresh, despite how untrendy all that is. And when the Plan concluded its set with a cover of Robyn's "Dancehall Queen" enmeshed with "OK Jokes Over," a deep album cut from 1995's !, which has been the Plan show closer for as far back as I can remember, it was both tongue-in-cheek and exquisitely, disarmingly earnest. Geek love 4-ever!


No Age

Although outdoor super-festivals have grown increasingly focused on the ticket-selling cache of big-name headliners over the past decade, the real draw for me has always been the top-to-bottom lineup. This is where Pitchfork really excels, since its schedules have continued to be diverse and interesting year after year, even as it has landed more mainstream artists to close the show. Pitchfork's approach to building its festival lineup also offers a few nice points of contrast every year, and Saturday delivered a real treat for fans of American punk rock, with No Age sweating it out on the big stage at 3:30 PM and OFF! playing the small stage at 4:20 PM. Although No Age is the band I've seen most during the past couple years, their sets vary wildly from day to day, less so in the nuance of each performance than in the approach to the show as a whole. Whereas their set at the tiny Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco this spring was memorable for how precisely Dean Spunt's drums and Randy Randall's guitars locked in to give their usual skree an almost glam sheen, No Age was all speed and gnarl at Pitchfork this year, thundering through the shreddier parts of their early catalog and adding crushing covers of Misfits and, appropriately, Black Flag tunes.


OFF!

No Age, which awesomely takes its name from an SST Records compilation, lived up to the precedent of their antecedents and set the stage perfectly for the Pitchfork debut of OFF!, which includes punk veterans from Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, Burning Brides, Redd Kross, and Rocket from the Crypt. While the young L.A. punks of No Age had abandoned their instruments at the end of the previous hour's set to get a closer look at the pit and had been pelted with empty water bottles throughout, be-dreadlocked singer Keith Morris of the oldies circuit lambasted the kids for wasting water and promised to bring a "different flavor to the party." True to his word, OFF! tore through about 15 songs in 25 minutes and slowed down only to dedicate songs to the ghosts of punk rock's past and change a bass string. While No Age thoughtfully composed a set that would capture the desired fast and furious tone of the old-school for the day (and even wore matching uniforms of gray t-shirts and black jeans for the occasion), OFF! played the type of music its members have been delivering for the past three decades: angry, visceral, intense, and punk as fuck.


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