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Pitchfork Fest Reviews: Final Fantasy, Women

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We couldn't cover every band at the Pitchfork Music Festival, but we did our best. Here are some thoughts on a couple of acts that weren't included in our recaps of days 1, 2 and 3 in Union Park:

Final Fantasy (Saturday)
While Owen Pallett has been in business for a while, he’s known more for contributing arrangements to artists like the Arcade Fire—he was responsible for the strings on both of that group's albums—and fellow Pitchfork artists Grizzly Bear and Beirut than for his one-man outfit. I should preface this with the admission that seeing Final Fantasy live was the first time I’d heard them. I’d heard of them from a friend while discussing Andrew Bird’s notorious live loops, and although Final Fantasy took the same technical approach with the same instrument, the similarities ended there. Pallett’s vocals, oddly reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, trembled and soared almost operatically against the rhythmic violin. While the dramatic intent was tangible, however, the tension never pulled quite taut. The space between the delicate vocal lines and the driving violin collapsed in the outdoor setting, leaving the sound full of promise but unbalanced. I couldn’t help but think that adding more strength to the violin, even just in numbers, would have boosted the set and provided greater substance to an instrument that simply couldn’t carry the intensity. Still, Pallett’s performance managed to leave me intrigued, even as I wondered (perhaps inevitably) how it would have sounded paired with someone else. -- Anne Royston

Women (Sunday)
This Canadian foursome was not exactly fearless when they stepped onto the Balance stage, cozily tucked under a canopy of trees, on Sunday afternoon. Barely looking at the audience, the band launched into its first and only album with serious faces. What came out was straight-ahead, no-holds-barred indie rock. I recognized a page from The Shins here, a page from The Strokes there, and an entire chapter devoted to '60s pop-rock, which evidently influenced the production on their album as well—it was done mostly in-basement by Sub Pop artist Chad VanGaalen. For the first half of the set, the band's greatest assets were its vaguely Elephant 6 vocals and the sheer loudness of the riff-based songs. But they picked up momentum and confidence as they continued, looking serious about the music now. The increased energy spread to an enthusiasm-hungry crowd, but in the end, there simply wasn’t enough to go around. Women ended up feeling like a warm-up to the day, a pleasant, if somewhat disengaged, experience written over as other bands took the stage. -- Anne Royston

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This page contains a single entry by Ben Rubenstein published on July 20, 2009 2:39 PM.

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