As you may have noticed, Urban Agrarian has been on a bit of a hiatus. Several factors have led to the near-disintegration of our blog. First of all, I, Amanda, have moved to Copenhagen, Denmark to study abroad for the academic year. Secondly, both Spencer and I have done away with our digital cameras to pursue analogue photography, making it difficult to regularly post videos and photos. That being said, I flew to Paris this weekend to attend Pitchfork’s first overseas festival and armed only with my iPhone, I could not help but feel the need to blog about this experience, especially since the headlining band has been such a big part of Urban Agrarian history.
At first when I heard that Pitchfork was coming to Paris, I was curious about how big their European following was and if they would be able to pull off a something so huge so far away from their home base in Chicago. The festival did sell out, but that was not so surprising considering that Bon Iver’s European tour sold out nearly every show far in advance, and the lineup also included internationally renowned DJ acts such as Aphex Twin and Four Tet. At the festival my suspicions that the French weren’t really reading Pitchfork were confirmed as the majority of people I met turned out to be from the States, the UK or from Australia– fellow expats and travelers who thought “Paris, why not?” and planned a trip around seeing some of their favorite acts from back home.
The first band I saw on Friday was Real Estate. This was all too appropriate considering the last time I attended Pitchfork festival in Chicago on a day pass in 2010, they were also the first show of my experience. However, lack of scorching heat made this experience a bit more pleasant. The band played a lot off of their fantastic new album, Days, as well as all my old favorites. Here is a video I took on my iPhone of the band preforming one of my favorite of their new songs, “Municipality”
My favorite act from the first night, Washed Out, played next. This band has such an amazing stage presence– transforming their chilled out tracks into a fantastic danceable live sound. The costumes were great, the light effects superb, and even the more reserved euro-hipsters in the crowd couldn’t help but get down when they finished their set with “Eyes Be Closed.”
Wild Beasts finished off the indie-rock portion of the night’s lineup before one after another major DJ act took the stage. I only stayed for Mondkopf and part of Aphex Twin before splitting due to headache (too much bass for this girl), but I will say that the lights and effects set up for each set were top notch. Mondkopf’s minimalist black and white lazer show pretty much blew my mind, and Aphex Twin’s devilish distortion of the crowd looked exactly how I would imagine a bad acid trip to feel. My two festival mates came home around 7am the next morning and filled me in on all I had missed, but I was pretty glad to have saved my strength for day 2.
Determined to get my front row spot for Bon Iver, I arrived at the gates of Grand Halle de la Villette half an hour before they opened at 2. I secured my front center place with little trouble and psyched myself up to remain in the same spot for 6 acts. The Rosebuds played their typical set to a small but growing crowd. It was nothing special, but still nice to hear familiar music from home after 3 months of being abroad. Next was Kathleen Edwards, Canadian country-rock musician and rumored girlfriend of none other than Vern himself. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t play the one song I knew, “Mercury” (as Justin Vernon did a fantastic cover), however I was overall pretty impressed by her. Her music reminded me of driving around the countryside– so distinctively North American. Then came the painfully long wait through Stornoway and Jens Leckman’s sets. Neither particularly interested me but at least Jens Leckman had good stage presence. Lykke Li was the last act before Bon Iver and I expected more from her. Although she had an amazing stage presence– reminiscent of Stevie Knicks meets Mary Kate Olsen– she played a lot of slower tracks and was surprised when the audience was being “too still.”
Finally the time came for Bon Iver’s festival finale. They played such an amazing show to an absolutely adoring crowd of fans– people who would stand in the same spot for 8 hours without food or drink to see them play. The show began similarly to their other shows with “Perth” bleeding into “Minnesota, WI” and finishing up the segment with “Holocene.” The only major difference between the two Milwaukee shows and this one was that I was alone in my cheers after the “Holocene” line about Milwaukee. Colin Stetson threw down an intense sax solo in between two songs and it seemed like the band had an overall better flow than they did at the beginning of their tour. They ended the show with Beth/Rest before their encore of “Flume” and an over-the-top spectacular rendition of “Wolves” during which the audience actually did go insane near the end. I was so satisfied with the show after that and, turning, about ready to go home, they took everybody by surprise and re-entered for a second encore, topping everything off with the classic, “For Emma.”