Monday, July 21, 2008


Three years ago, while the Wrens and AC Newman were the big interests for me at the Intonation Festival, at the time curated by Pitchfork, later to become the Pitchfork Festival, it was Broken Social Scene that really blew me away. I owned "You Forgot it in People" at the time, but it wasn't until I saw them at that show that it really clicked for me, and that set was the highlight.

Two years ago it was the Walkmen and Destroyer that piqued my interest, and both were excellent, but when all was said and done, it was Ted Leo that made the biggest impression on me. He was someone I hadn't listened to very much at the time, and I left the park a big fan, and immediately bought Shake the Sheets and Hearts of Oak.

Last year, I'm not gonna lie. The lineup mostly sucked. And the people I usually go with couldn't make it. So I had tickets that went unused for Friday and Saturday, but I showed up for a couple hours on Sunday to hear New Pornographers play a few tracks from their, at that time, unreleased new album Challengers.

This year, Sunday was the big draw, with Les Savy Fav, the Apples in Stereo, Spoon, etc. But for the first time in four years, it was the one band that I really wanted to see that delivered the best performance, and easily the best set I've ever seen at a festival setting, leaving me hungry for a show at a more intimate, or at least indoor venue. Spiritualized delivered far and away the best set.

I'll admit that I came to the show expecting to hear a stripped down, mostly acoustic, mellow set of material off the new album. Most of the shows that J. Spaceman played since his return to health were of the Acoustic Mainline variety (a take off on the Electric Mainline - Pure Phase album). But to my surprise, he showed up with two awesome backup vocalists, and a fully plugged in five piece setup. And while they did the mellow stuff at times, they simply blew doors when they wanted to. He played a few songs off the new album, most notably Sweet Talk and the first single, Soul On Fire. He also reached back to Amazing Grace for Cheapster and She Kissed Me (and it Felt Like a Hit).

But the highlights came early and late. They opened with You Lie, You Cheat off of the new album (Songs in A&E). As that faded out, the band slowly worked it's way into downright numbing version of Shine a Light, from Lazer Guided Melodies. If you've got a copy of the track handy, fast forward to about the 11 minute mark, picture the sax is a guitar, and imagine that the wall of background fuzz is about 100 times louder than you'd expect, and you'll get the idea. After working through the rest of the set, they finally launched into Come Together, the one song my friend wanted to hear, and for me, that was set to be a real highlight, until they segued out of the song, into some distortion and reached back into the Spacemen 3 catalogue for arguably my favorite Pierce associated track ever, Take Me To the Other Side, which was a really terrific way to end the set. If I weren't a Spiritualized fan before the show, I would have been on the way out. It really was transcendent, and it was probably one of the five best live sets I've ever seen, regardless of setting. I'll try to link to some videos as soon as P4k puts them up.

This should be a link to their set for streaming via audio. If it's not, then enter the time and date (July 20, 5:00 pm) and it should work.