Pitchfork, a website that’s become a de facto resource for music criticism, was born 21 years ago. It began as Minnesota native Ryan Schreiber’s passion project, an upstart assigning near rubric-specific ratings to indie albums. Now Pitchfork stands among the staid properties at New York City-based magazine publishing powerhouse Condé Nast, where possibilities for the site have greatly expanded, Schreiber told the Daily News.
“I wanted Pitchfork to be a really comprehensive and thorough resource that is extremely decisive in its journalism and in its coverage and criticism,” Schreiber said. “There are not a lot of sites out there where criticism remains a focal part of their identity. It’s something we’ve held onto that still seems necessary and crucial.”
Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber
(Courtesy Pitchfork/Ebru Yildiz )
To celebrate the site’s history and evolution, Pitchfork is throwing a birthday party on Saturday at the Knockdown Center in Queens, where artists who embody its past and future are set to perform. Animal Collective, a Pitchfork darling almost from the beginning, will play their 2004 record “Sung Tongs” in its entirety — rare for the experimental band, whose sets tend to resemble more of a live workshop session.
Animal Collective will play their 2004 record “Sung Tongs” in its entirety at the event.
Schreiber, who was first introduced to the Baltimore-bred Animal Collective by a friend in 2000, said he found “Sung Tongs” in a stack of albums in Pitchfork’s first office on the north side of Chicago. The album solely features founding members Avey Tare and Panda Bear (real names Dave Portner and Noah Lennox, respectively) providing all the vocals, guitar and percussion. It was before the artists shifted to their electronic sound and it was “love at first listen.”
“I remember putting it on and just being floored by how completely different and unique it sounded,” said Schreiber, who listened to hypnotic opening track “Leaf House” on repeat before moving on with the rest of the album. (“Sung Tongs” scored an 8.9 from Pitchfork upon its release.)
Singer and guitarist (Sandy) Alex G
Animal Collective continued to fetch top marks for subsequent releases, so it’s only fitting the other members not heard on “Sung Tongs” will be there Saturday more than just in spirit. Geologist (Brian Weitz) and Deakin (Josh Dibb) will start things off with DJ sets before a showcase of “acts (that) represent the future of music” take the stage, Schreiber said.
Singer and guitarist Alex G has been prolific over the past few years, and also played guitar on Frank Ocean’s album “Blond,” a Pitchfork favorite. Moses Sumney achieves a live “wall of sound” through layers and layers of loops, and up-and-coming funk rapper Topaz Jones’ set promises “bars for days.”
Schreiber said it feels right to celebrate 21 years of Pitchfork, an age that signifies coming into your own and many more possibilities.
“For as long as I’ve been doing it, it’s still very much in its infancy,” Schreiber said. “We’re now surrounded by publications who have been around for 125 years. It really feels like there’s a lot more ahead of us. We’re going to be doing things that are more surprising to people. It feels like the right time to celebrate.”