Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Birth in Reverse

Watch This: Vol. 41

The Watch This series, up to this point, has mostly placed the overall focus on videos that just feature a band performing. For the 41th installment, that rule gets slightly modified. With the exception of a typically astounding performance from Noun (Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster’s extraordinarily consistent solo project), every video to earn a feature spot in this volume features a brief interview with the band playing music. In the case of the videos that bookend this week’s Watch This, the result is incredibly endearing- while the rest manage to be moderately informative without stripping away a sense of playfulness. More importantly though, the performances included below are uniformly outstanding and deserved to be spotlighted. With that said, it was a very difficult class of videos to select from, thanks to the abundance of great performances that surfaced from artists like Unicycle Loves You, Cousins, Bahamas, Jenny LewisHollow Boys, Cheap Girls, and St. Vincent. So, as always, pour a drink, grab a seat, adjust the contrast, turn up the volume, and Watch This.

1. White Lung, ft. Katie Crutchfield – Dead Star (Noisey)

In what seems like a gift tailor-made for this series, White Lung’s Mish Way and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield teamed up together for a pair of acoustic performances. Crutchfield holds down guitar and melody duty on this stripped-down take of White Lung’s excellent “Wrong Star”. Before the performance, the two share a few words and a palpable connection, subtly setting the stage for how complementary their musical abilities wind up being. Unsurprisingly, this is a gem of a performance that reaffirms both artist’s deserved status.

2. White Reaper (Consequence of Sound)

Delivering a fiercely committed performance, White Reaper gives Consequence of Sound (and everyone else) a startling reminder of the strength of their debut EP. Here, they hold nothing back and just go full-throttle, emphasizing the kind of spastic energy that’s frequently a hallmark of the most entertaining live bands. In the short-form interview, the band discusses the meaning behind both “Half Bad” and “Oh Yeah”, giving a direct line of insight for their work- an increasing rarity. Starting and ending with two memorable performances, this is a can’t-miss video.



3. Noun – You and Mr. Rogers (Don Giovanni)

Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster’s solo project, Noun, should be every bit as prominent as her main vehicle. After releasing an incredible 7″ and what’s one of the decade’s finest LP’s, Holy Hell, Paternoster understandably refocused on Screaming Females. Lately, though, she’s been playing solo shows with greater frequency and quietly unveiling new material. Here, Don Giovanni captures Paternoster delivering a gripping take on a song called “You and Mr. Rogers” that showcases her raw talent. It’s genuinely stunning, offering up a more fully-formed portrait of Paternoster’s quieter side. All of the applause at the end of the clip is absolutely warranted.

4. Mannequin Pussy (BreakThruRadio)

Mannequin Pussy’s Kiss Me Tender EP was a beast of a release that was highlighted by the unrelentingly fierce “Kiss“, which also headlines their recent session for BreakThruRadio’s excellent Serious Business series. In the video, there’s the standard irreverent interview portion that is intercut with some blistering live footage of one of today’s more exciting new on-the-rise bands (it’s worth noting their first demos were released back in 2011). “My Baby (Axe Nice)” and “Anything” also get featured here, cementing Mannequin Pussy as another live act that’s not worth missing.

5. Waxahatchee, ft. Mish Way – Coast to Coast (Noisey)

Returning to the collaboration of Katie Crutchfield and Mish Way, the pair reverse the featured project- this time delivering an arresting performance of Waxahatchee’s “Coast to Coast”. Way’s melody lines float along effortlessly, providing a welcome layer to an all-acoustic take of what was easily one of last year’s finest songs. Even though Cerulean Salt only came out last year (as did Groovy Kind of Love), this performance alone is enough to reignite excitement for whatever Crutchfield has in store next.

Pitchfork Festival: Day 2 (Review)

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Days 2 and 3 of the Pitchfork Festival were spent seeing the festival shows themselves, rather than the after shows. Who needed after shows when the lineups for both days were so unbelievably stacked? Day 2 started with Cloud Nothings laying into a very frantic set that recalled their recent High Noon Saloon appearance. Drawing entirely from Attack on Memory and Here and Nowhere Else, their set translated well to an outdoor festival setting. With the additional benefit of good weather, the day was off on the right foot. Before their set ended, it was off to catch Mas Ysa ending his, an impressive display of eclecticism and eccentric electronic work. It was a decided change of pace from Cloud Nothings’ assault just moments before- but it kept the audience just as engaged.

Pusha T was forced to play a shortened set after a late arrival but no one seemed to mind; there were more than a few people on the verge of losing their minds during his short time onstage. My Name Is My Name, one of last year’s stronger highlights, was well represented (predictably, “Nosetalgia” received the biggest reception- no surprise Kendrick appearance, though) as was his back catalog. Pusha handled the lion’s share of the performing himself and showcased the dazzling skill and charisma anyone that’s been paying attention to him since Clipse knows that he’s capable of. It was a standout set, even if it didn’t take up the full time slot. tUnE-yArDs played to another very packed crowd that proved to be just as entranced and receptive as Pusha T’s. Merrill Garbus and company played  off of each other expertly, offering up enviable displays of both percussive and vocal prowess. It felt appropriate in the setting and completely of the moment. Their last two songs drew two of the loudest cheers of the festival.

Next up on the schedule was Danny Brown, green-tipped hair and all, who absolutely invigorated what was starting to feel like a lull in the day’s actions. Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves was also on hand to watch this set and talked about punk, energy, unpredictably, danger, catharsis, and how Brown’s set embodied just about all of it. Brown’s last two records (XXX and Old, respectively) are two of the finest entries in hip-hop for the decade-so-far and his live show lived up to- and possibly surpassed- that recorded output. At this point he’s no longer a star in the making- he’s a bona fide star. Look out for whatever comes out of his camp next (fingers crossed on what seems to be a possibly impending collaboration with The Avalanches) because it’ll be more than worth paying attention to.

After Brown’s rousing set, it was back across the grounds for St. Vincent, still riding his on this year’s outstanding self-titled record. Annie Clark led her band through a set that leaned heavily on that record while occasionally glancing back (“Cheerleader“, in particular, was awe-inducing), always leaving at least one foot planted in her increasing fondness for futurist aesthetics. When she broke from that mold, though, the effects became staggeringly visceral. One of the most unexpected (and aggressive) moments of the festival, for instance, came when Clark led her band down into a free-for-all noise jam that bordered on chaos as it became increasingly heavier. Towards the end of this, Clark threw her guitar to the stage and started abusing it before crawling over to the bass drum, headbutting it repeatedly, rhythmically, before retreating and staying down, holding her head, clearly in some anguish. She would stay in that position for some time before a stagehand came and draped another guitar over her after receiving assurance that she was okay. It was a moment driven by pure, total feeling– and it was spectacular.

Neutral Milk Hotel put on some extraordinary shows after their surprise reunion last year (their Covington, KY show was particularly memorable) and they haven’t really stopped since. True to their wishes, the display screens for the festival were temporarily killed for their set. No cameras, no footage, just music and a shared experience. And what an experience it was. Literally thousands of people sang along in unison to personal favorites off of the band’s landmark achievement, In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea, and several jaws dropped when they went for their relatively deep cuts (“Ruby Bulbs” was as emotional as ever and “Ferris Wheel on Fire” remains transcendent in a live setting). It was mixed well, the band played with as much force as they did meaning and everyone in the audience was smiling, enjoying a moment that would have seemed impossible just a year and a half ago. It was the obvious choice to end the evening and felt akin to magic. Day 3 would have a lot to live up to.

Below watch a video of Cloud Nothings playing “I’m Not Part of Me” that was recently posted by the hosts of the festival themselves.