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The Range Shares His Pitchfork Tour Diary

Throughout the summer, we're following around some of our favorite bands and DJs as they head out on tour. In each installment, these road dogs will be sharing a photo diary and sharing stories about what they do, see, and hear and eat while criss-crossing the country and the globe. Next up: buzzy, Providence-based producer The Range (a.k.a. James Hinton), who headed to Chicago this past weekend to play the Pitchfork Music Fest. Here, he tells us about "PBR Breakfasts," sweltering after parties and an interview with a puppet.

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I had played a show in Toronto on Friday and took a really early flight into Chicago Saturday morning. As soon as I landed in Chicago, I headed to my Airbnb in Wicker Park. It was a really, really nice spot and it turned out that the guy who owns it had gone to the same art residency that my girlfriend is at now. It was a nice and funny introduction. He told me about the layout in Wicker Park and about this great taco place whose name I forget.

I met my friend Akshay, his girlfriend and another friend for brunch at Longman & Eagle. I was a little late so by the time I got there, they'd already finished two drinks. They were telling me how they had had a three-course cocktail meal the night before at The Aviary so they were all in pretty bad shape. I ordered something called the "PBR Breakfast" but I had to decline the PBR unfortunately because I was so tired so I just had coffee, bacon, potatoes and scrambled eggs, which were really nice.

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I played Pitchfork at 4:45 and my call time on site was 2pm. We finished brunch around 1:30 so I had to rush over to make sure I got to the fest and got all my credentials and everything. After I got into the fest, I had the chance to say hello to Mas Ysa who I'd met at the Pitchfork CMJ showcase the October prior. Since my set-up was pretty quick, I got the chance to watch him for a little bit.

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It was pretty crazy to be up onstage. I feel like my life would be very different if Pitchfork wasn't involved in it. It felt like I was coming back around this big circle that started in October when my album came out [and Pitchfork reviewed it]. Most of my shows have been support shows where people might know one song but in this case, I got the sense that people knew most of what I've put out, which is pretty cool and special when you don't have that every night. I was trying to enjoy it as much as I could as opposed to worry a little bit, which I usually do.

therangepfork.jpgI think the set went amazingly well. I've been playing a lot of really new stuff that I'm hoping to put on my next album. Usually people are excited about stuff they've already heard but then the excitement drops off when you play something they haven't heard before. For a DJ, too, it's hard to know whether the excitement is about a song [by someone else] you're putting on versus something you created yourself. But people even clapped between the lulls of my set, which was really unexpected and cool. I'm still on cloud nine. I think it was one of the best shows I've ever played.

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This is Mike from Supreme Cuts who are from Chicago. They're some of the first friends I made online. They had asked me to do a remix way back in 2012.  I was lucky that they were in town. I had asked them to come to the festival so it was nice to get a friendly face.

For the most part, [a lot of the bands] wanted to hang out and talk to each other. I think it's because it's the one time you get to hang out with people you either met once or know just because of the Pitchfork connection between everyone.  I think people might think these situations in the artist dressing rooms or in the VIP section would be standoffish but they weren't -- people were in a super good mood the whole time.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 1.14.00 PM.pngI had heard from [Kelela's DJ] Total Freedom that there was gonna be an after-party and there were rumors that Hudson Mohawke, who was playing the next day, had come in early and would be at this party. It ended up being inside this gallery space in Pilsen. When I went over there, I remember thinking, 'Oh, did we get the right neighborhood? Is this thing happening?' because it was a totally residential block but all of a sudden we pulled up and heard music and people were hanging out outside. I remember it getting really, really hot and there was no water there -- only beer, which wasn't a good combination of things. When Kelela got in and got on the mic, it was crazy.  People were going nuts. I haven't been to a party like that in a while. It was fun to see the kids come out, no inhibitions, being much more open and living in the moment than people who do this for a living and for whom it's just another night.

I left around 2:45 or 3am, right before Hudson Mohawke went on. I sort of wish I had stayed but I realized it was probably not possible because I was really tired, didn't have any water and had only been drinking beers.

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Whenever I actually have a crazy night where I should probably sleep for 12 hours, I only sleep for 6 so I woke up around 9:30am on Sunday. I texted my friends that I wanted coffee because it was going to save my life at this point. We met up around 11:30 and my friend Akshay wanted to try Intelligentsia so we went to the location in Logan Square. It was really good.

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Since it was pretty hot at that point, I decided to get this milkshake that had vanilla ice cream with four shots of espresso. I probably should've just had hot coffee that I could take with me but that milkshake was perfect. I couldn't even finish the whole thing -- I would've been completely wired by the time I got to the festival.

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I left my friends at Intelligentsia to catch Deafheaven at 2:30. I'd fallen in love with their album and really wanted to see them live. I had this one dream where I was their drummer -- it was the best dream of my whole life. Their set was amazing and everything I had hoped it would be. Their [musicianship] is really, really strong -- they weren't doing any studio magic to get those sounds on their record.

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After Deafheaven, I met up with Jon Hopkins (right) and his manager, David (left). I had been playing shows on Jon's tour. I was interested to see how his set would go because across the festival, ScHoolboy Q was playing and even though he was multiple football fields away, you could feel the air from his subs. But Jon went for it and embraced the fact that his set was outside and he played some piano stuff to open, showing another side to his music -- an open, melodic side. He was probably one of the top three acts I saw.
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After Jon's set, I hung out, went and listened to Real Estate, got some food in the artists' dressing rooms, which were in this field house. My dressing room resembled an elementary school classroom -- there were crayons and construction paper everywhere. I ate some Korean BBQ for dinner, which was so, so good. At some point I saw that someone had Instagrammed a drawing of me. It was the first time that happened whereas when I went on tour with Chvrches, it seemed like every other Instagram they posted was a drawing of them.

This drawing is super weird and makes me look like a pig. I don't know who the other people in the drawing are. The more I look at it, the more I get this weird feeling.

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I did a lot of press throughout the weekend and one of the outlets turned out to be a kids' show, which I didn't realize initially. I showed up, met a guy, and then he crouched down on the ground because I guess he was the voice of the puppet. I just thought he was the guy doing the interview at first. He would be talking normally like "Yeah, I'm excited to be at Pitchfork" then all of a sudden be like [in a cartoonish voice]: "What's your name?" They asked me about physics because I studied physics in college and that's in my bio and they asked me why Pluto was not a planet anymore. I was trying to explain why but obviously I don't think I could convincingly explain it to children so they pretended like I didn't like Pluto. This experience made me think about what it must be like for other people to go on Sesame Street.

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After the interview, I caught DJ Spinn's set. Footwork is a really important thing for me so I wouldn't have missed Spinn's set for anything. DJ Rashad who, with Spinn, was the godfather -- if not the outright originator -- of footwork passed away recently so it was a super emotional set. Everyone onstage knew DJ Rashad and it was special and celebratory. Afterwards, [other big Chicago producers] like Deejay Earl, Traxman, DJ Gant-Man, Mano, Hollywood Holt posed in a photo.

For the rest of the festival, I spent time catching some of Grimes' set. Her situation is so interesting, like, does she go this hyper pop route like with that song she originally wrote for Rihanna or does she tow the line in the same world that her other songs like "Oblivion" are in? Her set seemed really polished. I ran back after it was over to see Hudson Mohawke since I had missed him at the party. He did a great job.

At the end of the night, I saw Kendrick and it was funny because his set was the final act of the festival so everyone [went] to the one stage. Young Chop, who made "Don't Like" by Chief Keef, was back there. He's an amazing Internet person. Kelela was back there as was Mas Ysa and all the people from Spinn's crew. DIIV and Sky Ferreira, Real Estate -- they were all back there. It was a cool moment.

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After the festival was over, I got a text from Jon Hopkins asking if I wanted to go to a Warp party at this club called Primary. I met up with him and his manager around 10:20 and went to the party but no one had gotten away from the festival yet so we hopped over to this bar for a drink called The Lodge where they let you throw peanuts on the floor. The waitress was charging $3 drinks when they must've been at least $8. By the time we finished a few rounds there, we went to the party and it was Dutch E Germ, Total Freedom and Jeremiah Jae who were there and Hudson Mohawke who played super late again. The club had an amazing sound system. I was tired so I left before HudMo's set again but I was glad to have caught him at the festival.

Snag The Range's debut LP,
Nonfiction, HERE.


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