[REPORT] Pitchfork Music Festival – Day 1

All photo credits go to Sophie Jarry, our dedicated photographer on duty during the event. Sophie is a renowned french portraits/live photographer in the music scene around Europe.

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We were super excited to be part of this annual event for the 4th year in a row. Pitchfork Music Festival Paris as Tom Krell from How To Dress Well would describe it : “is like a chinese buffet for everything worth listening to these days, like an all you can eat buffet for attractive indie music“.

He’s dead on point. Felt just about right. With pressure increasing prior to the festival. We wrote a whole post for the attendees to check out the cool places of my neighborhood, which happens to be located right around the corner.  In the now famous Grande Halle de la Villette venue. A beautiful multi-event hall, that can hold quite a large number of concert-goers. It’s an ancient building, built originally to cater for farmers from all over France who wanted to slaughter, store and eventually sell on their live-stock. Brought from the countryside to the once outskirts of capital city.

The Venue

Nowadays, the venue is an integrated part of a huge leisure park known simply by parisian as La Villette… A great outdoor space with plenty of stuff to do, discover and play with. With the parisian Zenith concert hall, the Trabendo club nearby, and as of next year, the opening of the brand new Paris Philharmonic HQ being built just next door. The whole area is quite the epicentre for all things culture and especially all things music. Cité de la musique is also a neighbour. So it’s really fitting to have the annual Pitchfork Music Festival Paris held there.

Ought

set rating : 8/10

The first day of the festivities opened with the Canadian four piece Ought which formed in 2011 and its members (Tim Beeler – guitars, vocals / Matt May – keyboards / Ben Stidworthy – bass / Tim Keen – drums, violin) began living together in a communal band practice space while they recorded their earliest material. Their debut EP, New Calm, was released in 2012. After signing with Constellation Records, they released a full-length, “More than Any Other Day”, in 2014, which reached #20 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart in the United States.

The band opened the day with a brilliantly uplifting set of tunes to a fuller venue than the preceding editions. It’s holiday season in Paris so people came early. Which is a good point for festival organizers and early acts alike.

How To Dress Well

set rating : 5/10

How to Dress Well is the stage name of American singer-songwriter Tom Krell, born in 1984.  Beginning in 2009, Krell started to turn out free EPs online to critical acclaim by the online blogging authorities such as, well you’ve guessed it, Pitchfork.com, and many, many others. He went to to release full length LP’s ‘Love Remains’ back in 2010, followed by ‘Total Loss’ in 2012 and finally supporting his latest release ‘What Is This Heart?’ in the spring of this year.

However, his studio offerings were much better delivered than his live performance we thought. That why we gave him a relatively low rating for his set at Pitchfork Music Festival Paris. A disappointing 5/10. We would of scored higher if it wasn’t for the bored states we went through…

Notwist

set rating : 7/10

The Notwist are a German indie rock band Formed in 1989. The band moved through several musical incarnations despite maintaining a relatively stable line-up. While their early records moved through heavy metal into dark indie rock, their recent efforts for which they have received the most attention have been strongly influenced by the electronica scene, along with the other groups on the record label Morr Music.

This six-piece band with 7 LPs to its name gave an impressive set to the fashion conscious parisian crowd in attendance. From well crafted electronica to some of darker post-rock atmosphere. The Notwist managed to encapsulate the ideal festival set and deliver it brilliantly with a wide range of soundscapes avenues. An ideally melodic moment filled with melancholia.

The War On Drugs

set rating : 9/10

From our experience, The War On Drugs was our highlight of the night along with Jon Hopkins. Both acts lifted the entire spirit of the packed venue. Suddenly you realised why The War On Drugs made headlines this year. With hit tunes like ” Red Eyes” the american indie rock band from Philadelphia, really kicked things out of control. Shifting gears up, and for the better. It’s easily danceable, easily appreciated and a definite crowd pleaser. We loved every second of their set. People just let go from this point on. Unleashing their inner sensibilities and with the help of alcohol, drugs and whatever they could possibly find inside the venue, the audience reacted so well to the performance.

The band consists of Adam Granduciel on vocals and guitar, David Hartley on bass duties and some guitar, Robbie Bennett behind the keys section with additional guitar work)and finally Charlie Hall pounding those drums with accurate style. Founded by close collaborators Granduciel and Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs released their debut studio album, Wagonwheel Blues, in 2008. Vile departed shortly after its release to focus on his solo career. Following in 2010 with ‘Slave Ambient’ and reaching a pinnacle – it seems – this year with ‘Lost in the Dream’. The War On Drugs proved once again, how good they were, both live, and in studio.

Mogwai

set rating : 6/10

From Scotland, evolving post-rock guitar heros. Mogwai completely blew my mind eardrums. Way too loud, way too many guitars for my liking and I counld’t understand why they got such a predominant slot in the line-up. Anyway, 25 years in the making it’s apparently and love or hate thing with them. Especially live. I must of lacked some artificial sweetener to be able to fully enjoy this band. But for the love of God, avoid when at festival. It’s raw, really raw sound. With some electro synthesizer thrown here and there. I went for a beer refill. Sorry. Advice, stay well clear of strident speakers when attending a Mogwai gig.

Jon Hopkins

set rating : 9/10

Back to the real deal. I hadn’t dug deep enough on Jon Hopkins prior to his appearance at Pitchfork this year. I actually did not have a single track on hand in my iTunes Library so I was totally blind and oblivious to his set until he started playing the first few notes of his monumental set on this Thursday, October 30th. I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to fully plunge into his discography. But one thing is for sure. I will as soon as I finish with this live report. I was smacked right in the face, that’s how good his set was. His fingers dancing above the decks, turning knobs with a lot of grace as well as a few heads in the crowd that night. With a totally organic sound, his special blend of electronic music was tonight paired with some real great footage of a skater painting his town red. From London, Jon Hopkins transforms the Grande Halle de la Villette into a huge dancefloor. Not letting an ounce of chance for Mogwai’s disappointing set just before. The festival-goers gave all their soul, positivity and bodies to the minimalistic electronic beats, loops and fantastic drops only someone like Jon Hopkins can deliver. The crowd went mental SO DID OUR PHOTOGRAPHER Sophie Jarry :

James Blake

set rating : 7/10

To finally draw a close to this first night at Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris. We were treated to a light blinding and mesmerizing set by James Blake. Another headliner we’ve seen do wonders with French crowds. We had seen him a few times already and this was no surprise. However we really enjoyed – yet again – the performance he pulled together. The English gentleman with wicked lyrics and beautiful scenography, stunning beat layering and genius piano skills got us off our cloud and back down to earth. Winding down the general speed of the venue and closing the day in the most fashionable way. His voice still echoing in my head I have to get home, sleep and do that all over again the next day.

James Blake at #p4kparis - photo by Sophie Jarry for Sodwee.com

Last modified: November 5, 2014

3 Responses

  1. Mattia Villa says:

    I tend to agree about everything except about TWOD. My expectations were very high and they seemed to me a bit limp. They haven’t replicated the wonderful vibe of their last record.
    Btw I’m glad to have met you there 🙂

    1. Sodwee says:

      Hey Mattia, thanks for your input. Well, I really dig when bands do get the crowd going. And TWOD certainly did. Taste innit! Glad to have met you there too ! Until NEXT time !

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