By Patty Greer, Staff Writer
Pitchfork Music Festival entered its ninth year last weekend at Union Park in Chicago, Illinois with more than 40 artists across three stages and as many days.
Friday was an explosive beginning to the weekend with standout acts such as Haxan Cloak, SZA and Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks. London producer Haxan Cloak led us into the early evening with eerie soundscapes that paired perfectly with the anxious feelings every attendee gets on the first day of a festival.
SZA, the only female on the Top Dawg Entertainment roster, was a force all on her own, with a set that had everyone in the crowd feeling the groove. She also alluded at the end of her set to watch out for another appearance by her on Sunday during labelmate Kendrick Lamar’s set.
Animal Collective’s Avey Tare’s new project, Slasher Flicks, has an entirely different but equally enjoyable sound that from his original group. Last, but definitely not least, Beck closed down the first night of shows by playing every genre imaginable during his eccentric and light-hearted performance.
Twin Peaks, a Chicago punk band, started off Saturday afternoon with a bang. Other early acts included spoken word rapper KA, Circulatory System, a psych-rock band, and the UK pop group Wild Beasts.
At the shaded Blue Stage, Brooklyn synth artist and vocalist Empress Of had a powerful, bass-heavy set, while at a neighboring stage Cloud Nothings shredded in the hot midday sun.
Pusha T was the only artist this weekend to be noticeably late to his performance, clocking in at 40 minutes overdue, but his set was so power-packed the crowd never seemed to mind.
A lot of big names seemed to take charge from here after, tUnE-yArDs, Danny Brown and St. Vincent all had jaw dropping sets.
Merril Garbus, the front woman of tUnE-yArDs, took to the stage with a powerful presence as she played multiple instruments and looped her vocals, closing down her set with the crowd favorite “Water Fountain.”
Danny Brown appeared on stage to a roaring crowd, with a high energy set that featured Xavier Wulf. And the always lovely Annie Clark of St. Vincent had the best set of the night, sticking to her new self-titled album.
Last but not least was the headliner of the evening, Neutral Milk Hotel. The crowd danced as the folk trio led them in evocative tunes perfect for the night.
Pitchfork wrapped up Sunday with a fair amount of hip-hop and an overall rump shaking day. The first band up was Mutual Benefit, whose music consists of beautiful loops, melodies and a violin. Diiv, a shoegaze band from Brooklyn, was up next with a set full of surprises, including a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”
When Perfect Pussy took the stage, they had a crowd that could start a riot. As lead singer Meredith Graves screamed her lyrics, the crowd bumped and moshed to every guitar pluck and strum. Soon thereafter, the Dum Dum Girls were on, with each member outfitted in all black with a white instrument.
Easing the festival goers into the early evening was indie-rock band Real Estate, who gave off beach-like, ambient vibes that still hold a song structure. Fans threw flowers on stage to the band as they performed, it was a true exchange of fans loving a band and a band loving their fans.
Slowdive returned after almost a decade hiatus of not touring, giving the cheering crowd exactly what they wanted. As for the hip-hop, Isaiah Rashad, Schoolboy Q, Earl Sweatshirt and the headliner of the evening Kendrick Lamar all had electrifying sets and all help keep the standard for talented rappers in America.
Other unique aspects of Pitchfork included their amazing tent full of vinyl, tapes, CDs and more from various record labels across the country. Almost anything you could think of, no matter how obscure or underground, was sure to be found at this tent.
The next-door neighbor hosted the works of 40 select artists that had their various mediums of art for sale. From hand-crafted leather-covered flasks to taxidermy jewelry this was the place to find almost anything you could imagine.
Behind the Blue Stage was the final unique piece to Pitchfork known as “Flatstock,” a massive walkway filled with posters of every name in the indie music world. Each tent hosted another printmaking artist or company with original prints full of beautiful graphics.
Pitchfork has done it again, crafted an amazing line-up, wonderful local vendors and loads of art into one perfect summer weekend. This festival was for true appreciators of music, and fans coming from all directions. This is one of the more put together, classy, and clean outdoor summer music festivals in the nation.