Beck at Pitchfork 2014

20140719-133311-48791046.jpgI was a little afraid that Beck would feature his new album heavily in his headlining Pitchfork performance tonight. It’s a fantastic album, don’t get me wrong. Just not the kind of material made for a big fest (maybe Newport, but not Pitchfork). When he took the stage and the band exploded into “Devil’s Haircut” all those worries went out the window. It was hit after hit for a while, drawing from his vast discography to please both long-time fans and new. For me, a long-time fan who has never seen him live, it was a real treat to hear songs I’d only dreamed I would ever hear in person. The band was spot on all night, displaying skills in funk, soul, electronica, and rock. Other than a few feedback issues early on, everything was perfect as a concert could be. Something hit me during the closing ten minute version of “Where It’s At.” If Beck wanted to be the best folk singer of his generation, he could be. If he wanted to be the biggest MC of his generation, he would be. The fact that he’d rather spend his time checking out all different kinds of music and making new and interesting records is a testament to his passion for the craft of songwriting. I mean, did you ever think the guy that wrote “Loser” could write a song as achingly beautiful as “Lost Cause.” Or the guy that wrote “Blue Moon” also wrote “Sexx Laws?” Of course not. They’re so completely different, and yet there’s Beck Hansen’s name on all of them. 20140719-133125-48685873.jpg Well over 20 years into his career, Beck still has a great energy level. I don’t know if he was feeding off the crowd or the other way around, but the positivity in the air was certainly noticed. He still dances like he did on the Midnite Vultures tour, the only difference now is that he also knows when to bring things down a notch. Equally important in my view. I didn’t write down the setlist, and I don’t know what the hell that song was he seemed to improvize after “Sexx Laws“(UPDATE: I now know that song is called “Debra” and I apologize for being so behind the times). It’s an R. Kelly-like slow jam about picking up a girl from the mall and getting her into his Hyundai, which was weird but utterly brilliant. I can tell you he played all the songs you would want him to: “Girl,” “Black Tambourine,” “Think I’m In Love,” “E-Pro,” and all those listed above. He played a couple from Morning Phase in the middle of the set, but didn’t let the slow, dreamy nature of those tunes bog down the fun he was having. Now that I’ve crossed Beck off my bucket list of artists I need to see live, I’m adding him again because seeing him once is nowhere near good enough. If you love his music you owe it to yourself to catch him whenever you can. It’s an absolute pleasure and he kicked off this Pitchfork festival for me in a really amazing way.

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