I can die happy now.
OK, that's a bit of an overstatement, but I was glowing after seeing my musical heroes, Pavement, play a perfectly imperfect set of slacker pop classics last night to close out the Pitchfork Music Festival. For someone who got into this band a year after they broke up, it was a dream come true.
Pavement was never known for their professionalism, so it was ideal that they false-started the first few bars of opener "Cut Your Hair". That's a big part of the charm of a band that employs Bob Nastanovich to play auxiliary drums and scream goofy outbursts. Even as a nation of indie rock listeners swore by their music, they never took it too seriously, proving that beauty and meaning and even something universal can emerge from the absurd.
The ensuing 80 minutes followed suit, the band lax and relaxed as they kicked out most of their essential jams. I could have gone for "Summer Babe" and personal favorite "Shoot the Singer", but I can't complain about a setlist that left me grinning at every turn. Can't wait to see them again Sept. 16 at the LC.
More thoughts on Sunday:
•Pavement wasn't the only legend on hand Sunday. What a privilege to witness Big Boi kicking out the verses from so many OutKast classics. These veteran rappers know how to do it: Showcase a few of your new joints, but only in the midst of a greatest hits barrage. Looking forward to spending some quality time with Big Boi's new "Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty".
•I loved Washed Out's EP, and his music was just as impressive blasting from the Balance stage speaker Sunday. But I'm increasingly convinced that a dude, a laptop and a mixer does not a performance make. And Ernest Greene's music is far too chill to pull a Girl Talk and invite the crowd on stage to join him.
•Beach House is one of those softspoken bands that can be easy to overlook, but I was very impressed with what I heard Sunday. The best comparison is probably Yo La Tengo's mellower moments.
•Local Natives' album hasn't hooked me, but the two times I've seen them play, I can't help but be impressed by their dynamic arrangements and crisp execution. They're just plain good at what they do. However, their vocal harmonies leave me feeling like I'm seeing Toto or something, so I can't get behind them 100 percent.
•I doubt I would ever listen to a Lightning Bolt record for pleasure, and I might not even make the effort to attend one of their concerts. But in the midst of so many meek bands Sunday afternoon, their over-the-top drums and bass blitzkrieg was such a refreshing blast. Dudes absolutely slayed. Nice mask, too.
•I still swear by Surfer Blood's debut "Astro Coast", but I don't think I can endorse their live show anymore. Seems like singer John Paul Pitts keeps getting more and more awkward up there, and the band continues to play its songs slower than on the album. Maybe it sounds weird to complain that a band that takes so much of its sound from Pavement seemed amateurish, but this seemed more like clumsy nerves than the brash indifference that makes Malkmus and company so special.
•St. Vincent is such a treasure. Annie Clark's sonic vision is unique and lovely, even if it's not an every-day kind of listen for me. And girl can rock a guitar.
•I would be remiss not to mention Major Lazer almost overshadowing everyone at the entire festival with an unparalleled spectacle Sunday night. Diplo wasn't joined by Switch for this — where was he? — but it didn't much matter because the tastemaking party maestro dropped one of the sickest dance sets I've ever heard, hyped up expertly by Jamaican "stabber" supreme Skerrit Bwoy and an entourage that included scantily clad ladies, ballerinas and Chinese dragons. It was incredible.