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The Pitchfork Music Festival just announced a few additions to this year’s bill. Here’s a quick run-down of the new acts and some educated guesses as to whether they’ll be worth watching on an outdoor stage.
Fucked Up: Like Mastodon and Boris before them, epic Toronto hardcore outfit Fucked Up will be responsible for bringing some gnarly aggression to an otherwise relatively mild-mannered weekend of bands (the Jesus Lizard excepted, of course). While they’re best appreciated in a small, crowded space under dangerous conditions, their wall-of-sound live approach should serve them well even on a huge festival stage. Circle pits have been making a comeback with punk kids, and I will be seriously disappointed if I don’t see one during their set.
Matt & Kim: Though they won’t be able to match the six-deep Fucked Up crew in terms of sonic fury, Matt & Kim can whip seemingly any crowd into a stupid-happy froth and are likely to inspire just as much reckless dancing (I’m hoping for another circle pit).
Wavves: If Nathan Williams wants to make a good impression on the festival crowd, he’s going to have to come a little harder than he did last Friday at the Bottle. I realize that his unfocused stoner vibe is part of the whole Wavves package, and I had a good time watching him have a good time banging through a sloppy set with a friend on drums, but take it out of a packed club and put it on a big stage and it’d be weak sauce. Either they’re going to have to practice or they should think about fabricating some kind of spectacle. Too bad they’re likely to play too early in the day for a laser light show.
Charles Hamilton: Another potentially risky booking, but not because of his onstage chops–I’ve heard he’s decent live. The problem with Hamilton is that, despite his goofy, nonthreatening nice-guy persona, rumors are starting to go around that he’s been jacking other people’s beats–a serious blot on his image, just as he’s getting noticed by people who aren’t obsessive Internet hip-hop fans. Hamilton might also want to think about squashing the ill-advised beef he started with Rhymefest before coming to the Chi.
The Dutchess & the Duke: The group responsible for one of my favorite albums of last year. It bummed me out that so few people felt the same way, and She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke had a pretty unspectacular press cycle after its release, so Pitchfork gets major points for putting them on the big stage, where they ought to make some converts.
Black Lips: Not surprising either–these guys are becoming like a default booking for outdoor festival organizers. They’re like a garage-rock Matisyahu.
The Very Best: I don’t care if this is the fest’s token “world music” act for 2009. It’s tempting to try to analyze the sociological and political implications of the cross-cultural collaboration between expat Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and dance duo Radioclit–I recommend The Very Best Mixtape–but since it’s impossible to work that kind of deep music-critic mojo while dancing, I won’t be the one to do it. Mwamwaya is the performer to beat this year, and in light of the group’s kitchen-sink approach I’m halfway expecting them to recruit some guest musicians from the day’s bill. So far this is the festival’s one set that you should absolutely not miss.