THE PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL: That's where I spent my weekend dehydrating... but worth it.
Highlights from Saturday included Man Man, a collective from Philly that was as relentless as it was percussive and odd and vaguely Eastern European. Visually striking in matching whites, also. Fans of Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Camper Van Beethoven and The Flaming Lips may want to check out "Black Mission Goggles" and "Engwish Bwudd."
The Mountain Goats are known for relative lo-fi acoustic folk-rock, but the band translated surprisingly well to a big crowd, with John Darnielle pumping up the smarta** factor between songs, which ran the gamut of the bands catalog. As Darnielle spent some of his life in Chicago, he could not help but play "Cubs In Five." The band also played a couple from the upcoming Get Lonely LP, like In The Hidden Places."
Art Brut absolutely ruled Saturday, playing 2 1/2 new songs in addition to most all of Bang Bang Rock & Roll which is now available in the US. From the inevitable opener "Formed A Band" to the double-shot of "My Little Brother" and "Good Weekend," the band brought its mix of Jonathan Richman, the Kinks and the Buzzcocks to a fever pitch, despite the oppressive heat and humidity at Union Park. Frontman Eddie Argos is a force to be reckoned with, capable of being touching, outrageous and funny -- often at the same time -- whether writing about his first love, "Emily Kane" or an episode of impotence on "Rusted Guns of Milan."
Ken King and I heard Destroyer, Ted Leo and The Futureheads at a distance during periods of rest and rehydration, so it would be unfair for me to offer any definitive opinion, though Ted Leo and the Pharmacists seemed to deliver a spirited show that also had a number of new songs.
The Silver Jews closed out the evening with a fine set. The more rocking feel of Tanglewood Numbers was brought to the band's older material as well, but the set was more a fine way to wind down a day of fine music -- like having the Mamas and Paps close Monterey instead of Jimi Hendrix. Songs like "Black and Brown Blues," "Slow Education" and "Time Will Break The World" all made the set list (sadly, "Honk If You're Lonely" did not make the cut).
Sunday started with current buzz band Tapes N' Tapes, an outfit with promise, but maybe not matching the hype yet. However, in the hype department, the band opened and closed with a presumably fictional "supervisor of internet promotion" who demanded that the audience take pictures and blog about the band, lest he track you down and kill your dog. The rest of his commentary was NSFW. Anyway, you can hear the band at MySpace.
Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman (the post-modern Burt Bacharach) would have been a highlight just for stocking his band with hot Swedish chicks -- but he and they were quite good on top of that. Lekman opened with the Motown-ish "A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill" and dedicated "The Opposite Of Hallelujah" to his sister. His short set also inluded "You Are the Light" and "Black Cab." Sadly, the highlight of his set was an unreleased song, "A Postcard to Nina," which was described in The New York Times last week.
Art-punk legends Mission of Burma also delivered the goods with a tight, explosive set mixing songs from their latest album, like "2wice" with MoB classics like "Academy Fight Song" and "That's When I Reach For My Revolver." The band closed with "This Is Not A Photograph," which, sadly, is not currently on the Hype Machine.
Devendra Banhart did a nice enough set, though it didn't bowl me over as I hoped it would. Perhaps I was just not in a mood for "freak folk" after Mission of Burma. If you want to know what "freak folk" sounds like, you can hear "Bluebird," which opened the set. The band also did a nice cover of Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)." Banhart also turned the stage over to a fan for a song, which apparently is a regular part of his show.
Yo La Tengo played well (as always), including a number of songs from the forthcoming I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your A**, which is quite a departure sonically. Ken laughed when I turned to him mid-set and said, "It's Yo La Tengo... and Sebastian," but that seems to be a common reaction, if Chaka at Timedoor is any indicator. Chaka posted two leaked tracks the band played at the fest, "Mr. Tough" and "The Race Is on." Both are a long way from "The Evil That Men Do," but very nice in their own poppy way.
The National did a nice set, though it didn't bowl me over as I hoped it would. The set leaned heavily on Alligator, including "Secret Meeting" (the opener) and "Abel," "Looking For Astronauts" and "All the Wine." For those unfamiliar with the band, the new stuff reminds both Ken and me of a countrified Joy Division (in sound, if not tone).
Austin's Spoon also delivered what Ken called "a very serviceable set." Some of you who think you don't know Spoon may have heard "I Turn My Camera on" in a camera ad. "I Summon You" was a highlight of the Spoon set.
Tropicalia legends Os Mutantes closed the fest and what Ken and I heard was a little disappointing. Ken thought they reminded him of a harder rocking Fifth Dimension, to which I specified old school Santana. I've liked stuff I've streamed from the Hype Machine, but it somehow seemed cheesier in person.
FOR LOADS OF PITCHFORK PICS, try Chicagoist.
PAM ANDERSON and KID ROCK had a wedding ceremony Saturday on a yacht in Saint-Tropez, though it's likely not legally binding. At least they dressed up for it.
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Miami Vice seizes the top slot from the Pirates, grossing roughly 25 million -- but the movie may not make back its budget domestically. Pirates placed with about 20 million. Teen girls put John Tucker Must Die in third place, making 14 million on an 18 million budget, almost ensuring profitability before it gets to home video. Monster House dropped to fourth, with total receipts of about 43 million on a 75 million budget. But the news is even worse for Ant Bully, which debuted in fifth place with about 8 million. The budget is not public, but it's probably in the ballpark of the Monster House budget, so everybody say "Ouch!"
THE McCARTNEYS: Sir Paul has filed for divorce from Heather Mills, citing her "unreasonable behaviour" for the break-up. Mills is not pleased and plans to file her own counter-claims in both the UK and US.
CHRISTIE BRINKLEY BREAK-UPDATE: In an interview on Sirius Radio, Alexis Stewart, Martha Stewart's daughter, claimed she had a romp with Peter Cook before he married Brinkley.
TOM-KAT UPDATE: Rumors persisted over the weekend that Cruise and Holmes had some sort of Scientology ritual performed, noting that the couple's hairstylist was booked for the whole weekend.
NIOLE KIDMAN and KEITH URBAN are moving to Britain while Kidman films The Golden Compass, based on the first in a trilogy of fantasy novels.
MEL GIBSON was busted on a DUI charge and later had to apologize for his belligerent behavior, including an anti-Semitic tirade, during said arrest. The police might have covered-up the tirade, had the story not leaked to the Internet.
GEORGE MICHAEL says he will sue a photographer for harassment and the man man who claimed he had a gay encounter with the singer on London's Hampstead Heath. Michael said he would not sue the News of the World or Rupert Murdoch for libel.
JANET JACKSON fans believe the singer has been "blacklisted" from MTV airplay, with her 2004 Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" -- which was co-produced by MTV -- being the supposed reason.
OWEN WILSON denies any connection between his new movie, You, Me and Dupree, and '70s supergroup Steely Dan's Grammy-winning song, "Cousin Dupree," about a couch-hopping houseguest: "I have never heard the song 'Cousin Dupree' and I don't even know who this gentleman, Mr. Steely Dan, is. I hope this helps to clear things up and I can get back to concentrating on my new movie, 'Hey Nineteen.'"
VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: The Victoria's Secret supermodel gives herself a hand on a hotel balcony. Probably NSFW.
LINDSAY LOHAN was blasted by the head of Morgan Creek Productions for her "discourteous, irresponsible and unprofessional" behavior. James G. Robinson must have figured out that hospitals do not treat dehydration and exhaustion with Vitamin B-12 shots. Robinson warns Lohan that she will be held "personally accountable" for losses caused by her actions. Lohan's mother continues to be an enabler.
MIDEAST CONFLICT: Israel agreed Sunday to halt air attacks on south Lebanon for 48 hours in the face of widespread outrage over an airstrike in Qana that killed at least 56 Lebanese, mostly women and children, when it leveled a building after warning the local population. Or not. Israel said Hezbollah had fired more than 40 rockets from Qana before the airstrike, including several from near the building that was bombed. If this video turns out to be that building, Israel might have a point. The eight-hour gap between the bombing and the collapse of the building raises questions as to what happened, including the possibility that the aftermath was staged for the press. Salon ran a piece Friday arguing that it is a "myth" that Hezbollah hides among civilians. However, Christians fleeing Lebanon say this is exactly what Hezbollah does. And Australia's Daily Mail has a gallery of pictures showing how Hezbollah is waging war amid suburban homes.
A BABY PYGMY LORIS debuts at the San Diego Zoo. Maybe it will grow up to oppose the manufacture of Thneeds.
FUGITIVE SQUIRREL MONKEY UPDATE: Betty, the lone remaining fugitive from last week's breakout from the London Zoo, has turned herself in after a 12-hour, slow-speed tree chase through Regents Park.
POISONED PIGEONS created a hazmat incident in Schenectady, NY. What would Tom Lehrer say?
GATOR suffers housing discrimination near Broken Arrow, OK.
600-LB MOOSE CARCASS disappears from the side of Route 272 in Connecticut. Nothing up my sleeve... Presto!
BEER-SWILLING PIGS are targeted by animal welfare group Choose Cruelty Free. Visitors to "Pub in the Paddock" in the island-state of Tasmania are invited to pour bottles of beer down the willing throats of resident pigs Priscilla and P.B. Pub owner Anne Free said the pigs liked beer, adding that she also watered the beer down to ensure they never got drunk. Now that's cruel!