The After Party – By Lorenza Zebell
Having never been to Pitchfork, I had no idea what to expect when I went down to Chicago last weekend. Everyone told me it would be insanely fun, but exhausting, and that I had to check out some of the after-parties.
The highlight of my weekend was, by far, the Ariel Pink after-party at Lincoln Hall. Earlier on Saturday, right before Ariel was set to play at Pitchfork, it rained horrendously and the festival actually closed for about an hour. Soaking wet and already exhausted, I made my way to the Blue stage, where I had planned on staying for most of the day to see my favorites on this year’s line up.
The lineup went like this: Ariel Pink, A$AP Ferg, Shamir, SOPHIE, and finally Vic Mensa. A strange choice for the order if you ask me, but I was still beyond excited. But by the time Ariel Pink was set to play, a huge crowd had formed for the later rap acts, crowding out Ariel’s small but devoted fan group. Long story short, Ariel and his band sound checked for most of their set, I got my toe stomped to oblivion, and I realized that I’m an old grump that can’t hang with the cool kids. Also, SOPHIE was cancelled (whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy).
Very disappointed with my day but trying not to care, I made my way with some friends to the Ariel Pink after party. The venue, Lincoln Hall, was awesome. We sat up on the balcony, gave our sore feet a rest and had a perfect view of the stage. I had never heard the opener Mr. Twin Sister before and they really blew me away. Some tracks (like “Sensitive” and “Blush”) were so sexy, reminiscent of Sade and Portishead. Singer Andrea Estella really commands your attention, moving around the stage like a mysterious water nymph. Their performance was gorgeous, and completely detoxed me from the events earlier in the day.
When Ariel Pink and his band of strange LA outsiders (?) took to the stage I knew it was about to get much louder. In total, there were eight people on stage including members of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti like bassist Tim Koh. Also part of Ariel’s live band is Don Bolles, the drummer from LA punk legends Germs. All of these people on stage made for a full, clean sound. This was pretty cool to hear when you compare it to the fuzzed-out sound that Ariel’s albums have.
The whole set was punctuated with a harsh strobe sitting right behind Ariel, and a fog machine that made everything feel like an 80s electro-pop video. I was really blown away by the sound and lights in Lincoln Hall. It’s a lovely venue that I most certainly will be returning to when I can.
Ariel played all of the favorites. The show opened with the panicky “White Freckles,” leaving the crowd in what felt like a caffeine-induced stupor. Best track of the night goes to “Black Ballerina” where I was surprised to see Bolles on the mic doing the voice of the creepy old man during the song’s strange strip club interlude. He closed the show with an electrifying version of “Round and Round,” from the beloved 2010 album Before Today.
“Hold on, I’m calling, calling back to the ball/And we’ll dazzle them all, hold on”
Even though we were up in the balcony, we danced our asses off and sang along, probably the most enthusiastic I’ve ever been at a show. But that’s what Ariel’s energy does: just whips you into a joyful frenzy.
I can’t recall a show that I’ve been so pleased with. A beautiful night.