Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Music Roundup

Hey folks, here's my annual list of my favorite music things of the year. You'll find my top ten favorite albums of the year, along with a slew of honorable mentions, as well as a few of my favorite songs. Enjoy!

Albums

Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order by artist):

LongLiveA$AP - A$AP Rocky
Old - Danny Brown
Nothing Was The Same - Drake
Days Are Gone - Haim
Excavation - The Haxan Cloak
Immunity - Jon Hopkins
Matangi - M.I.A.
mbv - My Bloody Valentine
My Name Is My Name - Pusha T
Major Arcana - Speedy Ortiz
The 20/20 Experience - Justin Timberlake
Anything In Return - Toro Y Moi
Is Survived By - Touché Amoré
1017 Thug - Young Thug

1) Sunbather - Deafheaven

The music on both of these top two albums is excellent and thoroughly captivating. But Sunbather deserves this year’s crown because it will be much more important to the genre of metal than Yeezus will be to the genre of hip-hop. Metal has long been associated with darkness and ugliness, but Sunbather is the exact opposite. Its bright pink cover is an accurate representation of the bright and shining music within. The booming, dominant guitars cascade through the dramatic, epic chord progressions. The blastbeats and frantic basslines in the rhythm section drive the point home emphatically on every song. And George Clarke’s screamed vocals are an acquired taste, but they’re never overbearing and they contribute necessary emotion to the songs. Sunbather is a record that immediately blossoms to great heights and then pushes itself further and further. It’s a gorgeous, monumental, brilliant composition that’s arrived at a time when rock and roll music has hit a brick wall. Sunbather bridges the gap between rock fan and metal fan and raises the stakes for both genres. The music world needed a record like this, and it’s a miracle that the music on it turned out to be so wonderful.

2) Yeezus - Kanye West

Probably everything Kanye West does from here on out is going to be wildly divisive, and in that respect this album is a perfect representation of The Era of the Angry Yeezy. Within the first five seconds of “On Sight,” people decided they hated everything about this album. The mangy, visceral beats, the seemingly inappropriate sampling, the disgusting sexual lyrics. But those people also failed to realize that the music on Yeezus is undeniably brilliant; the work of a modern-day musical genius. Kanye deliberately throws everyone off course with this album as he conjures convoluted songs from a crazy conglomeration of genres. He’s not afraid to take risks, but somehow he pulls them all off. When the Jamaican dancehall vocals at the end of “Send It Up” segue abruptly into the throwback soul of “Bound 2,” it feels effortless. It made me think “how can he come up with stuff like this?” There’s very few musical minds more mesmerizing than Kanye’s at the moment, and with Yeezus he’s once again proved his astounding brilliance.

3) Modern Vampires of the City - Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend’s third LP is their first great album. We loved the whimsical fun of their first two releases, but here they share with us something much deeper and fully formed. The lyrical depth and musical polish of MVOTC is far advanced from anything on Contra. Bob Boilen of NPR’s “All Songs Considered” seems to think MVOTC joins the ranks of the all time great third albums. I wrote about why Boilen’s comparison of this album to Born To Run makes a lot of sense, and you can read that here.





4) Wheel - Laura Stevenson

The third LP by Long Island singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson is one that many music websites (i.e. Pitchfork) unfairly slept on this year. Stevenson’s deft and melancholy lyricism climbs to a poetic level higher than most others. She also brought in a new producer, who helped give the new record a heavier rock sound. The album boasts one of the strongest second halves of any album this year, and it’s one you won’t want to miss. I got the chance to interview Stevenson earlier this year, and you can read that here.



5) Cupid Deluxe - Blood Orange

Every album on this list features exquisite production, but if there’s one record where the production really stands out, it’s Cupid Deluxe. Dev Hynes captures the eclectic nuances of r&b like Prince before him. But it’s not just that the record sounds good. Hynes has also put together an excellent collection of songs, with catchy hooks, jazzy chord progressions, and heartbreaking lyrics. On closer “Time Will Tell,” Hynes puts it all together. A thumping synth bass joins a crunchy jazz piano riff as Hynes sings the poppy hook: “Time will tell if you can figure this and work it out / No one’s waiting for you anyway so don’t be stressed now / Even if it’s something that you’ve had your eye on, it is what it is.” He’s paired post-2000 anxiety with pre-1990 production to create a great pop record.

6) BEYONCÉ - Beyoncé

When Beyoncé Knowles dropped her fifth studio album without warning in the early hours of December 13, she shocked everyone. But should we really have been that surprised that she had been concocting one of the best albums of the year? Yoncé already seriously upped her game with 2011’s 4, where she proved that pop can be experimental, too. Her self-titled effort, though less worldly, is just as experimental, and once again expands the boundaries of pop. She enlisted a who’s-who of the pop/R&B world, including top-notch producers like Timbaland, Hit-Boy, and Pharrell Williams, as well as talented songwriters like Miguel, Frank Ocean, and Justin Timberlake. With so many great music makers working on the album, BEYONCÉ is one of the most diverse albums of any genre this year. But Beyoncé has co-writing and producing credits on every song, and the album is consistent and fully realized. Katy, Gaga, Miley, and Britney all released new albums this year, but Beyoncé blasts her competition into another universe with this album. Her message to her contemporaries is loud and clear: “bow down, bitches.”

7) Acid Rap - Chance The Rapper

Chance The Rapper is just so much fun. The 20-year-old Chicagoan burst onto the scene with a mixtape that was better than most real hip-hop albums this year (looking at you, Magna Carta). He found a way to pair the new Chicago sounds of juke and footwork with the soul-inspired beats we’ve come to associate with the Chi thanks to people like Kanye and Common. The horn- and piano-laden tape is fresh and bouncy, but also contains conscious lyrics. “Down here it’s easier to find a gun than it is a fuckin’ parking spot” he raps on “Pusha Man.” At such a young age, Chance has already demonstrated that he knows how to make a really good hip-hop album. This kid’s going places.



8) Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels

On the other side of the coin from Acid Rap is Run The Jewels. Killer Mike and El-P are two veteran rappers who get together to spit in the face of the rap game on Run The Jewels. It’s a fast-paced and brief whirlwind of lavish lyrics, fierce flows, and brazen beats. The songs go by so fast that on your tenth listen you’ll still discover new things. Mike and El have been around too long to let slip something on a record that they don’t have complete confidence in. There’s never an insincere moment here. Run The Jewels will blow you away.






9) Woman - Rhye

It’s hard to make a sexy record that doesn’t sound pornographic. Rhye don’t keep anything to themselves on Woman. “I’m a fool for that shake in your thighs” Mike Milosh croons on the album’s first line (just think about it for a second…). But Woman avoids sleaziness with its sleek, minimal production. Milosh’s androgynous voice keeps the album cryptic, as well. Explicit lyrics aside, the songs are cool, groovy, and unconventional. Most of the songs feature a string quartet, which gives a welcome retro air to the otherwise futuristic music. Rhye’s music evokes images of dimly lit, hip nightclubs. They even perform all their shows in the shadows, allowing only candlelight into venues. Listening to this record will make you feel hip, like you’re in on something that most people don’t understand.

10) The Electric Lady - Janelle Monaé

Janelle Monaé’s sophomore effort is just as diverse, theatrical, and captivating as her debut. The two halves of the record are very different, as they follow the high concept of fugitive android Cindi Mayweather. But even with Monaé’s dedication to the concept, the music is great. She employs a slew of collaborators, including the alchemist Miguel on “Primetime,” who turns everything he works on into gold. Monaé has one of the best pure singing voices in all of pop today. We’re lucky that she does, or else the ambitious feats she attempts wouldn’t succeed the way they have for her first two albums. She will continue exploring on her future releases.

Songs

1) "Play By Play" - Autre Ne Veut
2) "Hold On, We're Going Home" - Drake ft. Majid Jordan
3) "Sunbather" - Deafheaven
4) "Shabba (Remix)" - A$AP Ferg ft. Shabba Ranks, Busta Rhymes, and Migos
5) "Mine" - Beyoncé ft. Drake
6) "Body Party" - Ciara
7) "Time Will Tell" - Blood Orange
8) "Diane Young" - Vampire Weekend
9) "Blood On The Leaves" - Kanye West
10) "Retrograde" - James Blake

I could have put together some Spotify playlists, but you can listen to these songs and albums somewhere on the internet probably. They shouldn't be very hard to find. Anyway, thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Built to Spill and the present state of rock and roll




This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of seeing Built to Spill in concert.  The Idaho rockers had a hand in the creation of alternative rock back in the 1990s along with Pavement, Nirvana, and Sonic Youth.

Frontman Doug Martsch experimented with layering noisy guitar chords and alternative tunings to create 1990s classics like “Perfect From Now On” and “Keep It Like A Secret.”  Martsch is 44 now, but he and the rest of the band proved they still know how to rock after all these years.

They opened with the beautiful “Velvet Waltz,” a song I didn’t even expect them to play, much less open with.  That song showcases the sound layering that made Built to Spill so famous in a sublime way.  They continued with the punky “You Were Right,” an ode of sorts to the classic rock Martsch grew up on.

The band did an excellent job of mixing their early pop cuts like “Reasons” and “Joyride” with longer, more experimental songs like “Untrustable.”  Martsch sounded as polished as ever on guitar, and his distinctive vocal whine hasn’t lost much intensity as he has aged.  It was a great rock show.

It got me to thinking about the present state of rock and roll.  The seminal genre that kickstarted popular music as we know it is struggling right now.

Before I dive in to this, I need to define what I call “rock and roll.”  It’s literally impossible, as is categorizing any kind of music, but I’ve come up with a very loose, very broad definition.

Rock and roll started with the guitar, bass and drums.  That’s still the core group of instruments that, along with vocals, we can call rock and roll.  Other instruments, like piano, strings and horns, are often featured.  But for me, rock and roll should be based on those three core instruments, especially the guitar.

With the exception of two brief uses of a cowbell, Built to Spill only used those three instruments on Tuesday.  But let’s remember that they mostly played songs that are 15-plus years old.  I love the band, and I loved the show, but they haven’t really demonstrated any innovation since 1999’s masterful “Perfect From Now On.”

It seems to me that Martsch and the band know this.  Out of the 15 songs they played (excluding two covers), only four were from their albums after 1999.  They played two each from 2006’s “You In Reverse” and 2009’s “There Is No Enemy.”  These two albums, while they have their highlights, are generally considered to be two of the weakest in Built to Spill’s seven-album catalogue.

You’d think a band would play mostly songs from their latest album on a tour.  I saw Bruce Springsteen last year after he released “Wrecking Ball,” and even though the Boss has an incredible body of work, he played a lot of songs from his newest album.

But not Built to Spill.  Martsch has always seemed like an insecure rock star kind of guy, but it was clear from Tuesday’s setlist that he doesn’t have much confidence in his latest two releases.  Could it be he thinks his band’s conventional rock sound has run its course?  After all, what all can you possibly do with just guitar, bass, and drums?

The two openers also only used the three core instruments.  The first, Genders, had some nice songs that were well-written.  But they heavily borrowed sounds from other bands.  I thought their rhythm section sounded like Yuck, their guitars sounded like Real Estate’s and their singer sounded like Victoria Legrand from Beach House.

The second opener, Slam Dunk, was a lot of fun.  Again, they used only the core group.  They had a goofy onstage persona and yelled a lot, which was really entertaining.  But none of their songs were all that interesting.  I got bored in the middle and looked at my phone for a while.

The truth is rock and roll has hit a brick wall.  In indie music, its presence is catastrophically limited.  There are some groups you could consider rock and roll.  Arcade Fire have the driving rhythms and guitar riffs that characterize the music, but they are also heavily orchestral.  Their new, electronic-influenced music would have Chuck Berry rolling in his grave if I called it rock and roll.

People call bands that have banjos and saxophones rather than electric guitars “indie rock,” but that’s not the type of music the genre was founded on.  Bands like the Black Keys and the White Stripes are definitely rock, but their music is largely a throwback to blues sounds.

Speedy Ortiz released a wonderful album this year.  Its sound is harder to pinpoint, but it again borrows from the alt rockers of the 1990s.  Torres released a raw, emotionally powerful rock album at the very beginning of this year, but she’s from Nashville and borrowed songwriting techniques from the country singer-songwriters of that city.

Deerhunter are pretty clearly rock and roll, and their frontman Bradford Cox has a fresh style of songwriting.  But they borrow heavily from the garage-rock sound of the Strokes.  Emo/screamo revival bands like Touche Amore and The World Is A Beautiful place are trying to bridge the gap between mainstream and alternative, but it’s slow-going and has little potential for success.
The freshest rock release in recent memory came in the form of Deafheaven’s “Sunbather.”  Their mesmerizing mix of shoegaze guitars, black metal drums and screaming vocals make a great concoction that is excellently executed and produced.  It’s about the only rock release I can think of from the last five years that has lasting potential.

There are lots of bands that have decent songwriters who write nice melodies, but most of them borrow from earlier bands and sounds.  That’s not enough to create really good music with lasting power.  It’s not enough to be catchy, there has to be something new and different.  And that’s something for which the rock and roll genre is at a loss right now.

Of course, rock and roll is based on borrowing aspects of music from other people.  But for as long as the genre has existed, we’ve seen new, innovative sounds.

Bo Diddley was an experimental master of guitar.  George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page all had polished, perfected, and unpredictable guitar skills.  Then Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo came along in the 80s and made the guitar sound like a totally different instrument.  Only a few short years later Kevin Shields reinvents the instrument again.

Radiohead and Wilco both made strides in experimental music at the beginning of the 2000s, but they didn’t totally flip the genre on its head like those other guys did.  It’s been a long time since we’ve seen anything truly new in rock and roll.  And if Doug Martsch can’t figure it out, it will be very difficult for anyone else to get out of the rut.

I don’t consider myself a classicist by any means.  I like music new and old.  But I’ve realized that for at least the past year of my life, most of the rock and roll I’ve listened to has been from before 2000.  There just isn’t interesting stuff happening right now.

I don’t know what to tell people to do with their guitars to sound new.  I don’t have the answers.  But I do know that the situation is dire and only getting worse.  It would be a shame to see this great music go away, but maybe it has run its course.  It seems to be the beginning of the end.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pitchfork Festival 2013 - Saturday

Having recovered from the miracle that was Bjork's set on Friday night, we decided to start off Saturday with some noise.  We started our day once again with a Canadian group.  KEN mode, like Mac DeMarco, could really rock.  Their blend of noisy sludge that's not fully metal worked well for festival-goers like myself, who may not be fully-fledged metal fans.  Their set was exciting, loud, and hilarious.  I think that frontman Jesse Matthewson might actually be possessed by some dark force.  Needless to say, his antics onstage were exhilarating to watch, and he really worked the crowd.


Next up we saw Pissed Jeans, a punk band from Pennsylvania.  Frontman Matt Korvette had the best stage presence of just about anybody we saw at the festival.  He was hilarious and energetic.  He came on stage wearing two (2) Tito's Vodka tank tops.  He ripped through them both, and requested another one, to which a stagehand obliged him.  When the guitar player's amp stopped working momentarily, Korvette joked that they had been thinking of kicking him out of the band, and this was the deciding moment.  Pissed Jeans were loud, punky, and fun.  We did some quality moshing during their set.


We moved over to the green stage to await Phosphorescent.  This band had been in Bloomington earlier this spring, and I elected not to go because there was an IU basketball game that night.  That was the game we lost to Syracuse in the tournament, so it turned out I missed Phosphorescent for nothing.  So I was looking forward to seeing them live.  Their country-tinged southern rock really worked well as the sun loomed high in the sky.  The band mostly played cuts from their excellent Muchacho from earlier this year.  Standout "Song For Zula" was especially good live.  Its swooning melody and melancholy lyrics made a beautiful combination in the sun-drenched park.  Frontman Matthew Houck can really sing, too.  It was a satisfying set, and I'm glad I was able to see the band.


From here, we took a break to get food and then hung around the big park lawn in between the red and green stages.  We caught a little bit of Trail of Dead.  I'm unfamiliar with their music, but they sounded good live, and the bass player was especially enthusiastic.  We moved up in the crowd and listened to some of Savages' set.  Dressed in all black, the four British women played well together, translating their solid post-punk grooves to the stage.  Singer Jehnny Beth had peculiar stage presence, staring off in to the distance and hardly acknowledging the crowd, but she sang well, especially when the melody soared high above the droning accompaniment.


One artist I was really looking forward to for the festival was Swans, mostly because I had no idea what to expect.  Their sprawling and terrifying 2011 release, The Seer, is constantly unpredictable, so I expected the same from their live show.  And when the shirtless percussionist known only as "Thor" began warming up on a clarinet, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.  Swans' set is without a doubt the loudest live set I've ever seen by any artist.  Their music is hard to describe.  It's not post-rock, but it's close.  It's not metal either, but sometimes it is.  Their instrumentation was frontman Michael Gira on vocals and occasional guitar, as well as guitar and bass, steel guitar, and two percussionists, both of whom were playing hammered dulcimer at the same time at one point in the show.  For being nearly 60, Gira is eclectic and energetic on stage.  He conducted the music at times, jumping in the air and waving his arms frantically.  Swans only played four songs in their hour-long set.  It's really hard to describe what they sound like, as I said, so check out this video Pitchfork posted of their set.  The video even includes the aforementioned clarinet.  Just know that Swans was an experience I won't soon forget.  It was one of the most mind-boggling live shows I've ever seen.


It was hard to recover from Swans.  We took a break until Solange came on.  It was refreshing to hear a group of musicians who really knew how to play.  The drummer and bass player made an excellent rhythm section.  They really grooved in the pocket.  She had great stage presence, as well.  During one song, she told the crowd to turn it in to a "high-school grind fest."  In retrospect I sort of wish I would have stayed for her whole set, but I decided to leave for the blue stage and Andy Stott.  I fell in love with his thumping ambience on last year's Luxury Problems.  Unfortunately, it seemed not many other people at the show had done the same as me.  People were talking, and the music wasn't that loud.  Nevertheless, the music was good, and the drop in "Numb" was just as striking live as it is on record.


We stuck around on the blue stage to await Rustie.  He was one of the few artists of the festival that didn't start on time.  I should mention that this year was much better in terms of punctuality.  Last year we waited more than 45 minutes for Kendrick Lamar, but everyone was on time this year.  Rustie came on and played his DJ set, which turned out to be underwhelming if you ask me.  Part of that was due to the crowd, I was constantly being pushed around, and I lost my hat in the confusion!  The music was good, but not as memorable as I would have liked it to be.  He incorporated a few Danny Brown tracks, which were fun, but otherwise I think it was a pretty lackluster set.  After he was done, we caught the last song from Belle and Sebastian, and they seemed fun.

Overall, I think that Saturday was definitely the weakest day of the festival.  Swans were the highlight, and they were incredible, but their set wasn't enough to balance out the disappointing DJ sets at the end.  Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun, and I was looking forward to a great Sunday of music the next day.

I stole all the pictures on here from the ones Pitchfork posted of the festival.  You can check out the rest of them here.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pitchfork Festival 2013 - Friday

I know this is pretty overdue, if I was a real professional music journalist I would have posted my festival coverage this past Monday in a timely fashion. But since I'm not, here it is, a week later.

After slogging through a horrendous amount of Chicago traffic (thanks, Dan Ryan), we arrived in Union Park on Friday just in time for Mac DeMarco's set on the green stage.  The Canadian rocker is notorious for being goofy, and a couple of my friends had seen him at Russian Recording in Bloomington a few weeks before, so I was expecting an exciting set to start of my weekend.  DeMarco played a handful of recognizable favorites from his most recent release "2," including "Ode To Viceroy," "The Stars Keep On Calling My Name," and "My Kind of Woman," which he dedicated to Friday headliner Bjork.  The band closed with a medley including covers of BTO's "Taking Care of Business," a punk version of the Beatles' "Blackbird," and Metallica's "Enter Sandman."  The medley and the set ended with "2" closer "Still Together," at which point DeMarco invited his girlfriend to the stage for a touching conclusion.  As silly as the set was, though, the band sounded very good together.  The drummer especially played really well and was a solid timekeeper.  It was refreshing to see a band that was well-rehearsed and prepared, but didn't take themselves too seriously and had fun with their set.  Rock and roll is a fun music, and this is one of the ways it can really succeed.  Some people might say rock and roll has hit a brick wall recently, but I still say it's my favorite music because of how much fun it is.  Mac DeMarco nailed it.


Another way rock and roll can succeed is by being really noisy.  We took a break after DeMarco's set to get some food, the fatigue of spending an hour in bumper-to-bumper Chicago traffic still with us.  Then we made our way back to the green stage to await Wire.  We heard a bit of Woods, whose set closed with an overlong, boring IndieJam.  I found what I heard of their set to be annoying, frankly.  The singer couldn't sing his too-high, weak melodies.  However, as Wire began their set, I knew we were in for a treat.  Even though frontman Colin Newman is nearly 60 and appeared to be reading lyrics off of an iPad, he and the rest of the band still know how to rock.  Wire were loud!  Their set was probably beaten in decibel level by only one other set the entire weekend (I'll get to that later).  I'll admit that I didn't know any of the songs at the time and I had to look them up, but it was still a great, enjoyable set.  They chose a nice mix of older and newer songs, opening with "Marooned," from 1978's Chairs Missing, and closing with "Spent," from 2003's Send.  They didn't pull any punches, and avoided sounding old and washed-up.  The only complaint I have is that the drummer tended to rush, but he was close enough for punk.  Wire presented one of the most electrifying sets of the entire festival.


Leading up to the festival, I was really excited to see Joanna Newsom.  Her expansive 2010 album Have One On Me is a delight, and I looked forward to hearing some of my favorites from that album.  Unfortunately, her set turned out to be a bit disappointing.  We were too far back from the stage, and near people who wouldn't stop talking.  They effectively drowned out Newsom, who appeared on stage without a band and only her harp and piano.  She used the opportunity to debut new material, which would have been really cool if we could have heard it.  And although she played a few album cuts from earlier albums, including "Bridges and Balloons" and "In Califoria," she negated some of her more well-known songs.  It's unfortunate that she was next to last on the lineup on that night.  It seemed that most of the people couldn't care less about a warbly harp player and were only there to see Bjork.  But that is bound to happen at any festival, I suppose.  I quickly forgot my disappointment, though, as the next set began.


Bjork was incredible.  She appeared on stage with two musicians, a percussionist, and a guy who handled electronics and synths.  She also had a group of 12-15 female singers, who walked out in flowing, electric-blue robes.  And Bjork was wearing a metallic gold dress and what I can only describe as a dandelion headdress.  The choir started singing a ghostly whisper which transitioned into Biophilia cut "Cosmogony" to open the set.  As the massive bass of that song kicked in, Bjork's angelic voice sang the melody flawlessly.  Behind her, three LED screens showed images of the solar system as she sang the lyrics about the universe, the heavens, and the earth.  I knew it would be transcendental and unlike any live show I'd ever seen.  As the ensemble transitioned into "Hunter," with captivating energy, I was totally drawn in.  One of the most interesting aspects of Bjork's music is that her melodies are like tornadoes.  Her songs often have an established beat or loop, and then her melody comes in, writhing in and out of time, doing whatever it wants.  They wreak havoc throughout a song in the way a tornado might lay waste to a town.  It sounds like she improvises the melodies on record, and they are surely very hard to duplicate live.  Nevertheless, Bjork's voice was impeccable.  I can't recall her missing a note.  At age 47, she still deserves to be called one of the best vocalists on the planet.


She played more fan favorites, including "Joga" and "Hidden Place."  One of the highlights of the concert was "Army of Me," which doesn't really live up to its potential on record.  But the band treated it with massive, heavy energy onstage and turned it into a huge rocker.  The percussive ending of "Crystalline" was Friday's most danceable moment.  Last was "Mutual Core," a Biophilia track I was really looking forward to hearing.  Unfortunately, her set was cut short due to the forthcoming monsoon.  We missed out on "Hyperballad," and everyone was pretty angry. Even Bjork remarked "This wouldn't be much in Iceland, I'll tell you that!"  But it turned out to be a sound decision by the festival runners, because 15 minutes later Chicago was assaulted by a massive downpour.  I would have liked to have heard some of my favorites from Debut, the first Bjork album I ever heard which is still probably my favorite.  I was also hoping for Post cut "Enjoy," and it would have been awesome to hear something from Medulla, like "Who Is It."  But you can't ask for everything, and "Mutual Core" turned out to be a pretty satisfying conclusion.  Even being cut short, Bjork's set was without a doubt one of the best I've ever seen by any artist, right up there with Bruce Springsteen last year.  It was the best set of the festival, and I'm so very glad that I got to see it.

We left the festival and cured our temporary thunderstorm-induced disappointment by visiting Three Floyd's brewery in Munster on the way back to the place we were staying in Dyer.  We enjoyed some quality pints and received excellent service, contrary to everything I'd heard about the place.  Friday was a great first day to the festival, and we looked forward to the next two days.

Thanks for reading!  My write-ups of Saturday and Sunday at the fest are forthcoming.  I stole all the pictures I put on here from Pitchfork's site, you can see the rest of them here.