Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Two-Headed Boy

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.

Watch This: Vol. 22

At the very start of the last article to be posted on here, it was mentioned that Heartbreaking Bravery was going through some technical problems and that they’d be made up for sometime relatively soon. That day is today. Some of the issues plaguing the site are still being resolved, today they’ll be circumnavigated unless they’re fixed at some point throughout the course of the several upcoming posts. Also worth pointing out is that the post with that disclaimer was the first one to be exclusively done on a cover. Normally, this place will do its best to feature originals over covers but with “Candy’s Room” being as good as it was, it’s offered a perfect segue to a Watch This that focuses solely on one of the best outlets for covers: The AV Club’s Undercover series. With a new season lingering around the corner, it’s a great time to look back at some of the most memorable installments of that series- it’s also a great way to illustrate the full scope of the kind of music this place will cover when given the chance. This will be the first of a few Watch This installments getting posted today and it’d be difficult to ask for a better way to ease back into things. As always, sit back, float off, do whatever feels natural- just make sure to Watch This.

1. Mac DeMarco – Undone (The Sweater Song)

Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days is one of the very best records to have had a 2014 release so far, operating as both a reminder of his talents and personality. Here, the cover he and his band offer up of this Weezer classic does roughly the same thing; twice as roughshod as the original but brimming with a cathartic recklessness, it’s a perfectly positioned tribute that does both bands justice. There’s an ample amount of slacker goofiness but when the band kicks it into fifth gear for the last few minutes, it becomes its own beast.

2. The Swell Season – Two-Headed Boy

Did anyone in 2012 think they’d be able to see Neutral Milk Hotel ever play this song again? The prospect of a reunion was about as far-fetched as My Bloody Valentine releasing their follow-up to Loveless, so fans scrambled to find worthy covers. Before 2013 happened, there was nothing better than this; an Oscar-winning rags-to-riches duo (Glen Hansard- who came back to the series to take part in another classic– and Marketa Irglova) bringing in their full band and doing more than a little justice to a song several revered as holy.  An awe-inspiring take that rivals Neutral Milk Hotel’s heavily emotive calling card classic.

3. Screaming Females – If It Makes You Happy

This was a no-brainer (so much so that it almost missed the cut completely). The explosive chorus, the guitar fireworks (that riff! that solo! just goddamn), the unrelenting passion, powerhouse vocals, and left-field song choice make this can’t-miss material. More than a year after this was posted, it still has the ability to spark all the same feelings it did on the very first view. This is just about as inspirational as it gets. Take note.

4. Ben Folds – Say Yes

It’s still a little difficult to articulate how much Elliott Smith meant to a certain corner of the music world. He departed entirely too early, leaving behind a rich and unimpeachable discography that cemented his legacy. The bulk of his material can still be extraordinarily difficult to listen to and literally impossible to not be affected by. Here, Ben Folds, his friend and former tourmate, tackles the relatively optimistic “Say Yes” with reverence and grace. Even now, more than ten years down the line, Smith’s songs remain as poignant and moving as ever- even in the hands of someone else.

5. Wye Oak (feat. Jonathan Meiburg) – Strangers

There are few songs that hold as much meaning as The Kinks’ “Strangers”. It’s a perfect song, one full of the kind of humanity that encapsulates something as elusively intrinsic as a worthwhile existence. In short, between Jenn Wasner, Andy Stack, and Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg (another performer who would show up to the series again later to deliver a second classic) the song takes on an epic, wide-open feel. In fact, their take on this song was so devastatingly gorgeous that they became one of the first bands to be asked back– and then following that, the first to have their session(s) pressed to a 7″.  As hyperbolic as it may sound, it’s hard to argue against “Mother” being one of the greatest covers of all time.