Voices - Sun-Times Blog

Björk at Pitchfork

The first day of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park Friday started under a hot sun, but ended early due to the threat of treacherous rain.

Distant lightning and ominous winds eventually forced an abrupt end to the set by headliner Björk about 20 minutes early. She told the crowd the news, adding with disgust in her voice, “it wouldn’t be much in Iceland, I’ll tell you that much.” A Chicago official then appeared asking the audience to go home.

Björk’s abbreviated 70-minute set was largely devoted to “Biophilia,” her most recent album from 2011, and older songs she transformed into ethereal-sounding electro-pop. Any Björk show is built on spectacle, and for this outing she donned what looked to be a furry spacy helmet that topped a gold-colored sparkling dress. If the effort was to make her look like a constellation, it worked, especially against a backdrop of pulsing lights and animated galaxy dust, plus mesmerizing video of sea floor creatures, which due to the time-lapse setting, appeared to be enjoying a bit of carnal delight.

Her set included a drummer, a laptop DJ, and a choir of about 14 robe-donned women who, when clustering around Björk, appearing to look like her coven. They added wordless vocals, plus choreography that together helped the intensity of each song rise and fall.

Thanks in part to the steamy night, and creeping cluster of rain clouds closing in overhead, the strange stage spectacle felt tribal. Sputtering beats and rising voices made new songs like “Thunderbolt” and older classics like “Joga” sound floating on sparse landscapes. The eerie mood dominated the first hour until her set switched to crunching techno, thanks to songs from her past (“Army of Me”) and present (“Mutual Core”).

From there, who knows how the set would have ended up ? According to Twitter, Björk dodged the rain and ended up at Lincoln Hall where she DJ-ed for about an hour using just her iPhone. Not quite the same for fans hoping for a full set an hour earlier, but something is better than nothing.

Mark Guarino

publié dans Voices - Sun-Times Blog - 20.07.2013

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