I need to lie down.

No, seriously, I need to lie down.

That is what is scrawled in my notebook of many years in a couple places as I review the notes. I would argue that it is sickness, but there are some things that don't make sense about that statement. Yes, I felt fatigue. But I also felt some form of tedium. Sickness does not cause the latter.

Tedium bothers me in this way for many reasons: It is a sickness in and of itself, but of the mind. But its cause requires context. As I felt illness throughout the bulk of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, I spent some trouble trying to understand why it was there to begin with. Maybe the summer heat of the latter two days also got to me. But even that didn't make much sense.

Tedium. It just seems weird that the effects of every musician played were weak. Has music been lost on me? Or has something else shifted to deny me some sense of enjoyment?

I don't know what to feel on all this. Perhaps remembering everything could be of some use. We'll see.

Day 1: Lethargy in motion

Before it begins, the Pitchfork Music Festival is already hit with a bit of a mess when Death Grips decided to break up two weeks before they were scheduled to play. One could be let down by that. I'm not. Frankly, their "project" is such a bald-faced and pale attempt at aping the KLF, right down to the last minute big star collaboration, that I'm surprised they didn't go out of their way to burn the remainder of their advance from Epic and film it. Maybe they still will, but hopefully Rockman Rock and King Boy D will come out of retirement in time to break the charlatans' kneecaps before they do.

Death Grips Rating: Neither Justified Nor Ancient

Upon arriving at Union Park, a large green field in Near West Side Chicago, I hear the sound of people hawking water bottles, and young men banging away at plastic drum containers. Getting in is kind of weird, and I could have sworn veteran writer Paul Thompson was stuck handing out press badges early on, but still, the dynamics seemed plausible. And then you thought there three stages within sight of each other, only to realize that one of them's a fake stage sponsored by Ray-Ban that involves some kind of staring contest.

With that said, going into the first day of the festival, there's always a big risk because it falls on a Friday, and despite the gates opening at 3 PM most people won't be able to get over there until 6 PM at the earliest. With the loss of some early star power (Death Grips would have been on around 3:30 PM), Hundred Waters faces a pretty tough circumstance in opening the entire festival to a tiny crowd in front of the Red Stage. Still, they make only a "good try" sort of effort: Their music sounds what would have happened if Victoria Legrand of Beach House idolized Liz Fraser more. It falls in that weird mid-point between dream pop and whatever Enya does these days, complete with no substance and I think a ryuteki. There's a bit more dissonance to the end, but the lethargy carries the set.

Hundred Waters Rating: A modest 3 out of 10 Gilas

Factory Floor is the first group to hit the Blue Stage on the southwest corner of the park. Give them credit for trying to get the crowd going for what was 4 in the afternoon. Their percussive minimalism actually has some punch, and in some cases the crowd gets hyped up enough to introduce some weird crowdsurfing. But even with that and some chiptune mixed in, the overall crowd is as low energy as before.

However, at least they try to get crowd rolling. The Haxan Cloak, which is 10 minutes late in the follow-up on that stage, wants to put people back to sleep with their insipid drone. Granted, doing drone in a live setting that is actually enjoyable is hard, but still.

Factor Floor Rating: A strong 2 half-house duos out of 3 Electric Daisy Carnivals

The Haxan Cloak Rating: A mild 3 overslepts out of 8 detentions for breaking the school PAs

The odds that Sharon Van Etten can liven things are expectedly low as she gets on the Red Stage to play numbers from this year's fine work Are We There. She's not the type of person that can really get the crowd moving, even if they're excited for her. There is a very folksy and country vibe going on with her set, and the crowd was not really there to be blown away. There was good reason for that: Going through the crowd, the reporter noticed a creepily high couples-to-singles ratio. Couples are often absorbed in their own little world to only half-handedly listen to the music. Maybe these couples thought of it as an early date night? If so, that's sad: Van Etten is one of the better chanteuses out there, with a staggering emotional resonance that bleeds from her voice. Her pipes can kick your ass and steal your lunch money, with an intensity and bravado that feels close to epic. Stop sucking face, people.

Sharon Van Etten rating: An intense 4 tear-jerker films out of 5 romantic dates

Milling about the press tent, one thing is certain: The press uses a lot of MacBook Pros…that are still on Mac OS X 10.6. Or 10.7.

Press Rating: A weak 3 We Still Love Steve Jobs out of 6 Apple Fanbois

At this point, it's very clear that this day is meant to be Slow Day. Not a lot of the acts are meant to really pump up the crowd, and they're probably here because there were still tickets available (both Saturday and Sunday were sold out at least a couple weeks in advance). SZA was sadly not faring any better on the Blue Stage in the early evening. At the very least, though, this mellow soul singer has a huge young crowd going for her and it helps that she's Midwest proud (born and raised in St. Louis). She's only dropped a few EPs, but she has some potential in throwing down the slow jams, and gives a nice clean vibe to R&B, which is what it is and not some dumb white critic name like PBR&B or R-Neg-B.

Moving to the Green Stage to look at Sun Kil Moon, the reporter notices two things: that the average age goes up about 10-15 years from the SZA crowd, and that everything about the set seems to be dragging along like a platoon of soldiers in full kit marching through molasses. Every song needs a two-minute adjustment before playing, and Mark Kozelek just looks apathetic. It's little wonder that the small talk banter amongst the thousands watching him are louder than his music. Not yells or heckling, mere chatter.

SZA Rating: A swarthy 5 Motown groups out of 7 subsequent solo acts

Sun Kil Moon Rating: A feeble 1 folk revival out of 6 Wilcos

Admittedly, I come to Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks with low expectations. After all, despite being the de facto leader of Animal Collective, he's also their weak point, and the reason that outside the singles, the band tends to fall flat. His prior repertoire comes off the same way, with a few strong numbers meshed in with a bunch of clunkers. His new album Enter the Slasher House was no exception. So here I am, surprised that Avey Tare manages to successfully break the malaise that overwhelms the day. First he has musical/romantic partner Angel Deradoorian chant "Sung Tongs" to start off. Then breaks loose from the get go, fucking around as much as he can. He's excited, the crowd's going nuts, and somehow he actually makes his new album sound more palatable than it was in the recorded version. So all credit due to Mr. Portner for actually getting the crowd moving, though it's close to too late to cause a dramatic shift in fortunes for the day.

Avey Tare rating: A begrudging 3 Fall Be Kinds out of 4 Merriweather Post Pavilions

Seeing Giorgio Moroder run a DJ set before the finale, I come to two conclusions: It's weird to see how old the concept of being a house DJ and EDM is now, and that even old age does not prevent DJs from playing sets for too long.

The first headliner, Beck, is the most balanced of the three headliners in terms of audience reach, and is thus the most likely to draw the most diverse of crowds. These crowds are also likely to be the most annoying. This is made more so when some fat porker attempted to tell me what to write. Still, given the two decades the singer has been actually active, it doesn't actually take much for him to make a quick set list and get the crowd moving. He's at that Belle and Sebastian level where he can play all the right songs without losing a hitch. Bouncing off with "Devil's Haircut," he takes the high energy approach at first by throwing down a bunch of singles that strung from Mellow Gold to Modern Guilt, shimmying and soloing while the camera crews that shot for the big displays around the park seem unnaturally focused on his crotch. Going into the more mellow phase of playing songs off the phenomenal Sea Change and the recent joke of a "companion piece" Morning Phase, the lethargy that hung in the air returns with a vengeance. It's high time to leave, on the hopes that maybe, just maybe, the next few days won't be a slog.

Beck Rating: An effective 3.5 Mutations Out 5 Let's Not Talk About Scientology's Role in Sea Change

Leaving and heading west to Damen to avoid the massive crowds that would overwhelm Ashland Avenue next to the park, I notice the street drummers still going, more relentless than 77 Boardum (though not 88). Mad props to them.

Drummers rating: A restless 7 out of 7 barrels

Day 2: Does Merill Garbus Got To Smack A Bitch?

Waltzing into the park the second time, I listen as local act Twin Peaks take the main Green Stage. And I immediately see how everything they did is riffing off, in one way or another, the garage rock scene from San Francisco. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since basically that scene got run over by a Google bus and pissed on by Tim Cook's boyfriend Ron Conway. But still, coming from there, the whole thing felt like stale sourdough. At the very least, the rockers got spirit, and their crowd is far more into it than the entirety of the crowd on Friday. That much I'll give them.

Twin Peaks Rating: A weak 3 early birds out of 5 worms

The first act I actually want to care about did not fail to appease on the Blue Stage. Circulatory System, in what is Will Cullen Hart's first major appearance since the passing of Olivia Tremor Control partner Bill Doss in 2012, maintains the live spirit of the latter band, which meant rocking out despite being an experimental bend on psychedelic. It's fun seeing weekend fixture the Spacey Dude, who carried a Kevin Spacey sign, up there front and center, and fans grooving. Admittedly, Hart's a bit nervous and somewhat overwhelmed to start, seeing such a large crowd out in the sunlight. But after a few songs, he begins to roll with it, and everything becomes incredibly mellow. It's a fun set, with Almstead, Fernandes and McDonald holding it down. Someone complains afterward that Jeff Mangum, who is appearing later in the night, didn't show, despite being on the new album Mosaics within Mosaics. I was bemused. I've listened to that album five or six times before this set. He was on it? I don't think I noticed.

Circulatory System Rating: A filling 8.5 mosaics within 10.5 mosaics

After Circulatory System, I start wondering around, checking out all the foodstuffs (most of which looked unappetizing…except Puffs of Doom. That looked interesting) and the record bazaar (in which my refusal to buy records because I might be homeless soon kept me from picking up a Stereolab record and Scott Walker's Tilt). All the while I'm hearing something in the background, but I'm sure what. It seems really monotone and boring, so I just ignore it. It's only when I approach the main area of the park about a half-hour later that I realize it's Wild Beasts playing a set on the Green Stage.


Wild Beasts Rating: A strong 1.5 floors of elevator music out 7 muzaks

Feeling an onset of fatigue, I trundle over to Cloud Nothings on the Red Stage. There is a finally a totally enthusiastic crowd, complete with ridiculous moshing that is still apparently a thing after all these years. But the latter seemed strange and unnecessary: While Avey Tare salvaged his album live, Cloud Nothings are botching theirs. The excitement and intensity just feels boxed-in at best. When they let loose, it's basically noisy guitar jams that get tedious very quickly. The crowd is getting bored somewhere along the second to last song, and are starting to look for food. It's getting late for lunch, but who cares? It's better than this drawn-out mush.

Cloud Nothings Rating: A frank 4 attempts at shoegaze out of 9 genre-defining moments gone flat

I'm about to fall asleep. For about 15 minutes, the park is silent, musicwise. It would have been nice to have a nap and not see flashing lights shot from my eyeballs obscure my vision from time to time, but for some reason I decide to endure. For a moment, it looks like tUnE-yArDs would go on early on the Red Stage. Ms. Garbus has everything drilled down in soundcheck. She looked incredibly plucky, and thought she could do a full set rather than the expected reduced slot of about 45 minutes. However, just as she was ready to charge into her set, the speakers on the Green Stage, which was situated about a hundred yards away from the Red Stage but with enough power to be heard from about 3 kilometers, came to life. Pusha T, middle-aged rapper, had waltzed on stage, 30 minutes behind schedule.

Oh. Fuck. Look, I'll tell you one thing. Merill Garbus is one mad motherfucker right now. The stare she has at this precise moment is so intense, so cold, that if Luigi drives by and turned his head to respond he would crash into the nearest wall not three seconds later. Not because he's stupid, mind you, but out of sheer terror. Had she a knife, she would have gone at Mr. Thorton like a butcher to a sow.

Pusha T, to his credit, is professional about it. He heeps his set short, and bounced off right when Ms. Garbus would have gone on. Had he made it on time, his set would have been among the tops of the weekend. This half of Clipse can knife it good with his rhythm, and his lyrics from My Name Is My Name show an ill ease about him that you don't see all that often without the level of experience he has in the game. It's no wonder he has got everyone going, and that he has the right people on his beats. Shame he fucked it up with being late. Ah well.

About 10 seconds after the sounds stopped from the Green Stage, a voice bellowed with fury. Ms. Garbus is still angry at being cut like that. But in the end, that may be a good thing: Her set is probably the hit of the day, and could easily top the weekend. The incident plays to her strength: Clarity through fire. And as she sings on about the real world's crushing grip on ourselves, the delusions of white Americans, and the problems those anti-leftist SJWs ignore when they kvetch on Tumblr about how so-and-so forgot to check their cishet/otherkin privilege, I forget about my reservations on Nikki Nack. I was worried that the darkness that is overwhelming the Bay Area had gotten to her in North Oakland like it did to me in West O, and I sensed bitterness in the album. But everything just makes more sense in the live setting. She still got it.

Pusha T Rating: A manageable 6 fuck-ups out of 9 penances

tUnE-yArDs Rating: A fair 9 justifications out of 10 punches to the face

Can we talk a little bit about the steadicams? You know, those giant black cranes that held a big camera and swung around like a one armed swimmer doing the breaststroke in front of two big stages? Yeah, those. If I wanted to see some huge arm flying a camera around like a toy plane, I would've gone near one of the playgrounds in Humboldt Park, laid down, and dropped some acid. Can we do away with that next year, or maybe just have drones shoot for your livestream on whatever site it was on? That'd be great, thanks.

My Danny Brown proximity alarm went off, and it makes this really obnoxious auto-tuned squeal that scares the fuck out of everyone nearby, so I went over to see Kelela at the Blue Stage so that security wouldn't throw me out. She's midway through her set, but I'm already liking her. She can sass like nobody at that crowd, and I feel that's part of her charm. Her R&B is more straightforward, but it still digs in well. She's still definitely something that is worth looking into.

Kelela rating: A decent 3 "It's better than Danny Brown" out of 4

I stick around for The Field. Allow me to describe what happens. First this guy comes on, starts playing loops. Then he starts to play more different loops, and that's supposed to make the crowd go nuts. It kind of does, I guess. More loops, then this drummer comes in…to make a drum pattern that sounds like a loop. So there were more loops. There may be some raised fists while still looking at the laptop, because I'm pretty sure the crowd is squealing in the middle of a loop. Loops, loops, and loops. You're supposed to dance to this, but it's so repetitive that you stop after a moment. Loops, loops, loopity loop. So many loops, so little actual music to digest. And then they stop playing loops and left the stage so an actual music act can play.

The Field Rating: A tepid 4 lazy DJs out of 12 snooze raves

I recall hearing someone once describe Grimes' genre as "Grimes music." It obviously lacked a coherency, and it wasn't very clear that people were onto anything by saying that. But after hearing "Papi Pacify" by FKA twigs, I sense there is something to it. But allow me a better term for the genre: Dark pop. Basically, the structures and goals of pop are inverted in such a way that there is no external projection, just severe introspection and self-awareness. It is still pop in principle, but it speaks less of the fantasy and more the grimness of reality.

Ms. Barnett represents that as she played a full set. Every action accepts a certain darkness, from her bitter whispers and her cooing about her lover being a coward, to her methodical and disciplined twitching on stage. Even her demeanor in speaking to the crowd carries idiosyncrasies that belie some complexity, as if to shift things away from what is actually being said. It feels like a long stretch of genres, downtempo and trip hop and neo-soul and many others, converging into this moment, an age where the self detaches and turns inward, either in libertarian self-indulgence and apathy or heteronymic self-desecration. Some would say that she apes a lot of the aforementioned Ms. Boucher's shtick, but perhaps it is more that both, in their own way, are starting something new. When both drop their next releases, expect this genre to take some shape.

FKA twigs Rating: A clear 2 queens out of 1 new dark era

I last saw Jeff Mangum six years ago in Chicago, when I last lived here. He passed right by me as he walked to the center of the crowd at the Bottom Lounge, located two blocks east of Union Park, to play "Engine." He was the final act in the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour, which brought everyone from that fabled collective (save prodigal son Kevin Barnes) together in celebration of their completed children's film Major Organ and the Adding Machine. But to everyone outside of the E6 fandom, it served as the opening shot of what would ultimately lead to this moment 6 years later, when Neutral Milk Hotel take to the Green Stage as the second headliner and opened with "The King of Carrot Flowers" trilogy just as FKA twigs finished up. I never thought I'd be reviewing them, but then I also thought I wouldn't have a cold in the middle of the summer, either.

It's hard to explain what to feel at this point. With a crowd certainly numbering in the tens of thousands, the feeling of intimacy and personality that usually comes with listening to NMH is lost. But that doesn't mean they don't try to at least make the music the focus. The giant video screens besides each big stage are dead for this act. Lighting is mostly stable, except during 'Song Against Sex' and maybe something else, the former of which should have started a mosh pit with its jumpy ferocity. Jeff and underappreciated comrade-in-arms Julian Koster talk here and there, but they keep moving, covering much of their repertoire.

The idolatry that was inherent back in the late 1990s, when Mangum decided to go into hiding, is weaker now, but the numbers make up for it. It's a strange thing to see these people back, to see bits of the spirit of E6 appear from time to time on stage, with some members of Circulatory System making an appearance on a song or two. They play as well as they can, and that's the most anyone can ask for.

Should Neutral Milk Hotel have reunited in the first place? Hard to say. In a time where social media makes it incredibly difficult to create any sort of mythos around the self that isn't delusional, the band is the last among many to have cultivated a certain legend, only for it to be dispelled by returning. But there is nothing left for them here. Only sadness.

Neutral Milk Hotel rating: Make of it what you will, I can't

Post-festival aside: Did Jann Wenner pee on Parker Molloy's check or something, as he tends to do? Did someone on Twitter told her to check her white privilege one too many times the day she wrote her take on this set? To spend an entire column in Red Eye talking up NMH with a lot of nonsensical hyperbole as if the entire band disappeared (I guess Molloy never saw The Gerbils or The Music Tapes), only to write two sentences about how they were supposedly "cranky older men" for turning off the video screens (because that made seeing them so much better?)…well, that's not exactly competence as a writer or critic. But it's definitely the words of someone who spends waaaaay too much time on social media

Day 3: Wait, what

Late to the game, and wanting to fall off the bus upon getting there, I pass by Mutual Benefit, which doesn't seem to play anything worth remembering. I angle over to Speedy Ortiz on the Blue Stage instead. A stronger start than yesterday, a packed crowd is going along with Sadie Dupuis' boisterous lyricism from Major Arcana. Admittedly, you can tell they're from Northampton, given the late era Sonic Youth vibes they give off, but still, they have energy rolling in them, and this act is something to look forward to.

Speedy Ortiz Rating: A solid 7 dawns out 8 new days

Sticking around, I wait for Perfect Pussy to get everything together. This marks the first time technical trouble really messed things up: Meredith Graves' mic is off, and would have issues during the set. While they tried to fix it up, I sort of hear DIIV, to which my only comment is that I recognize the song they're playing. Finally, they get going, and instantly this hardcore band is incredibly adorable: Not just in Graves' demeanor and dress, but the fact that for the first few songs, instead of throwing the near infinite amount of water bottles that have been handed out like candy for the last two days at the band, the crowd threw flowers at her. And not roses either: Daisies, sunflowers, very simple flowers. I'm even given one after I suggest the distance one guy was going to throw his flowers was a little far. It makes me smile that despite all the moshing and skanking and some crowdsurfing, there is this random bit of cuteness. It definitely is a hardcore set: Intense as all fuck, it reminds me of many of the house shows I used to go to, just a bit more crowded. Still, I'm not sure if it's a great set. Something rings off to me about the whole thing. Maybe I've just grown out of hardcore? That is certainly a distinct possibility.

Perfect Pussy Rating: An acceptable 8 mosh pits out of 11 house shows

Now, let's go to Deafheaven over at the Green Stage. Let's see what they zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Deafheaven Rating: A bored nap out of possible sleepytimes

After dozing off, I decide to head over to Isaiah Rashad at the Blue Shirts. This time, I don't fall asleep, but it's still not that exciting. The one thing he's got going for him is that his beats have some soul driving through them, but that's about it. He spits a bit like a bro, which doesn't always work, especially given the lyrics are simplistic as all hell. Still, he only just reached drinking age. These days it takes a little longer for a lyrical groove get going. His brief forays into singing, though, are worth considering. It feels earnest without sounding too tacky, and works well as a complement to his rapping. He hasn't dropped an album yet. He may want to consider playing with his singing, for it might give him pull that's different from a lot of rappers his age.

Isaiah Rashad Rating: A meh 7 mainstream rappers out of 12

Writer walks over to Earl Sweatshirt at the Red Stage

Earl: All right, everyone, you better sing along to this next one!

Earl starts playing 'Don't Stop Believin''

Writer turns around around and power walks all the way back to the Blue Stage

Earl Sweatshirt Rating: Fuck off, you suck

"I really missed that White Stripes thing" –Rando

I feel bad for the lone guy on stage.

This single fellow, who plays guitar for the dream surf rockers Dum Dum Girls, is also the only male among them. He sticks out like an incredible sore thumb: Unkempt long hair, white shirt, and jeans in deep contrast to the coordinated all-black getup and heavily styled hairdos of the rest of the band. He is so far away from the other three guitar-wielding band members while still on stage that it is incredibly hard not to notice him unless you were positioned facing the opposite end of the stage. Which is quite a shame, considering he's actually a good guitarist: Despite some weird three-guitar-plus-bass moments, he seems to be the one holding together the melody.

Consequently, things start to stick out that didn't before: The dissonance that held some songs together feels strung out here, and while it is good surf rock, it lacks a lot of punch. After a while, the band just seems intent on going on as long as can, and the set becomes more languid with each lyric, sticking out by the same principles. You feel more relief than sorrow that the set is over, and wonder why everything is so strung out at that point.

Dum Dum Girls Rating: A listless 4 all-black getups out of 7 hot summers

Making it to the Green Stage for ScHoolboy Q, I come across impressed. The guy's super chill for a change, and spits a good word or two. But I like his knocking on the crowd. Rappers don't do that often enough: Messing with the crowd, rustling their jimmies. Last I saw that was with some of the Def Jux crew a few years ago. Mr. Hanley cuts a good rhyme from time to time, but more importantly, he darts around with his rhythm, which I find fun. He drops into some clichés, and the Jay-Z influence is kind of obvious from time to time, but I think he's got something gold going for him. I just wish he could get some better beats: They were staler than the mid-afternoon air that made it hard to move around and not feel like collapsing.

ScHoolboy Q Rating: A reasonable 6.5 rhymes out of 8 bars

The first thing I hear with Real Estate on the Red Stage is not them, really, but The Feelies and the dB's: Never have I heard something so specific to the garage/college rock of that era than I have with this band. It takes me a while to realize they were actually something different. That's a problem. Real Estate doesn't make a particularly strong case for them. Then there's this random use of the smoke generator behind the stage, which makes absolutely no sense for what is essentially an 80's garage rock throwback. They're not hair metal, for fuck's sake. The tedium is utterly stupefying, and makes me look over to Green Stage to see the engineers using Mac OS X to set up video for what is likely the headliner of the night. (I can't imagine Slowdive using this equipment)

More importantly, though, it just gets uninteresting very quickly, and I just start observing crowd behavior. It's a weird juxtaposition to see some middle-aged bros to the right of me complain about the band banter, while some college-age kids behind me get angry with me because I wrote in my notes "Too mellow for this time frame." But they were: It's hard to get excited for an act like this, even if their music is interesting. You can tell when, like with Sun Kil Moon, the chatter in the crowd gets to be about as loud as the music, that something is just wrong with this act.

Real Estate Rating: A meek 1 lazy Sunday afternoon out of 3 return-to-the-grind roadtrips

"Does a press pass give you free beer?" - Some lushy douche (or douchey lush?)

I stay close to the Red Stage for reasons that are probably going to be obvious later. Reasons I think I'll regret, but hey, it's worth an effort. For what it's worth, I can see Slowdive through the video displays, and frankly that's enough for me. I mean, hi there, legit shoegaze, how it's going? It's been a while. Seriously, this is the late 80's/early 90's scene-that-loved-itself shoegaze that everyone knew and loved. But, given this is my first time I hear Slowdive, I have to ask: Why were you important again? Why did you reunite? It just seems to be the type of music that drags along in the live setting, and while there's a significant crowd backing them, I just don't see what the point of it is, frankly. I like shoegaze, but this just seems uninspiring.

Slowdive Rating: More like Slowburn, amirite amiriiiiiite?

Meanwhile, I realize I'm stuck in a crush. No, no, not some girl I fancy, though those do exist contrary to popular belief, as Max Power will attest. I'm talking about the crowd suddenly bunching up and making it nigh impossible to escape the Red Stage. Why do I do this? Because I'm insane. And I say this because I have severe issues with large crowds and excess personal noise like the ones shown here. I should not be here, yet I am. What's more, though, you can't fucking dance in this crowd. The only thing you can effectively do is jump up and down and wave your arms around. That's not dancing, that's being a dumb white person. It's suffocating. Nausea. Sneezing in someone's face.

But enough of that. Out behind the nets, arriving in a Prius of all things, is Grimes. Last I saw Ms. Boucher, we chatted in a loading dock in San Francisco about a bunch of silly things, and the doors kept rattling like all hell. She looks a lot different these days. Gone is the hoodie and trunk filled with various synths and sequencers. In its place is a slimmed-down setup of a single sequencer and backing keys, a getup that is fiery pop and may have been aided by Brooke Candy, and a pair of good dancers she was incredibly gracious too. The crowd moved in an awkward mass, but it's fine. I somehow flee a few songs in, but not because of her. I wish the crowd were smaller, I wish the crowd were not just some giant useless blob that can't dance for shit. She deserves more than that.

The dark pop she has espoused has gotten stronger. Her two new cuts represent that in a certain way. She's still able to pull something lighter, but that's not who she is. And that's a good thing. It makes her a far stronger and far more unique figure than most of what is happening in music these days. With only two new songs, it seems unlikely she'll drop something until at least 2015. But to see her get back into it, to assert some confidence in her work and establish certain grounds for her rise, is enough for me. I think she's going to break things open in the next go-around.

Grimes Rating: Everyone. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Another night, another rapper who feels somewhat compelled to be late. I get hyping, but this isn't hyping, Kendrick Lamar. Hyping works when you have your crew out there doing it, pulling all the stops. It ain't playing on the speakers the West Coast G-Funk you so claim to be descending from. Even Earl Sweatshirt knew better than that. What you're doing is being lazy. That shit ain't pro. Get the fuck the down from your high horse and roll. Your flow may be solid, you may got some of the best beats that ain't Ye, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't act like a pro. Egos are easy to shoot down when they're big enough. Shit just gets pointless after a while. No, you're not getting a rating.

Wait. That isn't right. That isn't right at all. Man, it doesn't feel okay here. I need to lie down, this isn't good. How can I even listen to this anymore if all I'm doing is feeling sick the whole damn time? I feel I've let you down. I feel I've let you all down. I need to lie down.