If you haven’t checked out our pre-Pitchfork prep coverage, you can check that out here.
Narkis: MIKE was a great way to kick off the festival, even though it was unbearably hot at the festival. MIKE commanded the crowd, playing mostly from his albums War in My Pen and his new release Tears of Joy. Unfortunately, the heat got the best of me, and I dipped out from this set 30 minutes in to seek shelter in the CTA Cooling Bus. Thanks CTA!
Ellen: Kicking off the first day of the festival, it was nearly 110 degrees and I was sweating out of every crevice of my body. Despite the heat, the crowd was still pretty hyped for MIKE. Although I wasn’t familiar with his music prior to the festival, I really enjoyed his set. He was pretty engaged with the crowd and stood in solidarity with us dying of heat in the crowd, repeatedly noting, “It’s f***ing hot.” I wanted to stay for the entire set, but at some point the heat got the best of me and I left to seek out an air-conditioned refuge.
“Her energy was contagious and that was evident in the incredibly mosh happy crowd”
Narkis: Rico Nasty succeeded in making me feel like a bad bitch every step of the way during her set. Her energy was contagious and that was evident in the incredibly mosh happy crowd. The incredible heat of Day 1 was definitely taking a toll, as multiple audience members were taken to the medical tent and Rico’s energy began to decline. Even still, Rico Nasty finished strong with “Rage”, crowd still raging on.
“…nothing particularly remarkable about his set”
Narkis: Briefly brought his dog onto stage. Unfortunately, besides that, there was nothing particularly remarkable about his set. For the most part, he just paced back and forth on stage, delivering his low effort bars and his trademark flow. For real fans of his music, im sure it would have been a great time; but, as a casual fan of his music, i was unimpressed.
“…[Grapetooth] was a breath of fresh air during an incredibly hot day”
Narkis: Being a fan of Twin Peaks and Grapetooth’s sole 2018 album, I was looking forward to having some fun to their incredibly upbeat, danceable, new wave inspired tracks. I was definitely not disappointed, as both Clay and Chris brought incredible energy to the festival. Highlights included: them playing literally every single song on the album and surprise guest Lillie West, frequent collaborator and lead singer of Lala Lala. Overall, Grapetooth delivered exactly what I expected, and was a breath of fresh air during an incredibly hot day.
“…a serene environment that allowed me to really hang on every bar he rapped”
Narkis: Some Rap Songs was easily one of my favorite albums of last year, and Earl is one of my favorite rappers, so this was an incredibly anticipated set for me. Along with many of his classics(did not play Chum), Earl played a large portion of his 2018 album. His poetic bars combined with the soft diffused light from the red stage, a serene environment that allowed me to really hang on every bar he rapped. This performance put me in a great mood for the rest of the day.
“…one of my favorites of the entire weekend”
Narkis: King Push’s set was jampacked full of stank faces, bars, and references to the “Daytona” experience. Despite the incredible performance, I was a little disappointed. Why didn’t I get to hear Pusha T say “you are hiding a child” live? Now I probably never will, and that makes me very sad. Regardless, Pusha T put on a great show and his setlist was one of my favorites of the entire weekend, including multiple Kanye songs, Daytona cuts, and even at one point throwing it back to his Clipse days with a nostalgic performance of Grindin’.
“…probably my favorite performance of the weekend”
Ellen: I’m a big fan of HAIM, and I was super excited that they were headlined. It was actually their first time ever headlining a festival, so that was cool to be a part of. In true HAIM fashion, they began their set by banging on the drums, and eased into some of their songs from their albums Days Are Gone and Something To Tell You. At some point they transitioned into some Paula Cole covers, and some clips from the beginning of Dawson’s Creek played as they covered “I Don’t Want to Wait.” Near the end, they played their new single, Summer Girl, live for the first time. One thing I loved about their set was how goofy, energetic and genuine the trio always was on stage, bantering with one another on stage and admitting how nervous or excited they are to the crowd. Overall, HAIM was probably my favorite performance of the weekend.
“The crowd was really feeling Parquet Courts and their brand of socially conscious smart punk”
Narkis: After a brutally hot first day, I decided to start a little late in the day with Parquet Courts. The crowd was really feeling Parquet Courts and their brand of socially conscious smart punk. In typical punk fashion, the mosh pits were in full force; however, around halfway through their performance, a very large storm cloud starting forming over the festival. Fortunately, Parquet Courts were able to finish their performance, closing out with “Wide Awake”, before the festival was evacuated due to weather.
“Gibbs rocked the crowd for as long as the weather had permitted”
Narkis: After quite some time spent walking to Au Cheval, realizing there was a 3 hour wait, then settling on Little Goat Diner, we were given notice that the festival gates would be opening shortly. We then made our way back to the now incredibly muddy Union Park. Fortunately, the heavens (storm clouds) opened up just in time for Freddie, because he put on a hell of a show. Playing a short, but lively setlist that included two renditions of Crime Pays, Gibbs rocked the crowd for as long as the weather had permitted. Being a big fan of Freddie Gibbs, and a HUGE fan of his 2014 album Pinata, I was a little disappointed he didn’t play more from that. Nevertheless he played enough to give me my fix, while playing other songs from his catalog that more easily qualify as “bangers”.
Belle & Sebastian
“Belle & Sebastian’s performance… felt surprisingly intimate”
Narkis: Despite the scale of the show and the large crowd they drew, Belle & Sebastian’s performance of their 1996 album “If You’re feeling Sinister” felt surprisingly intimate. Hearing an album as a live show was something completely new for me. I’m very used to artists crafting a live show and selecting songs, but due to my love for full albums, this was a super enjoyable experience. The band played the album in full, even mentioning how odd it felt playing songs that they would usually end on somewhere near the middle of their set. Despite not being able to stay for the entire duration of their set, I really enjoyed this performance. Their performance of Stars of Track and Field has even made the song one of my most played songs on Apple Music recently.
Ellen: I was honestly kind of hyped up for Jeremih (don’t tell anyone I’ve admitted this) just because of the all-nighter I pulled one eighth grade night making a music video to “Imma Star,” but I was super let down. His DJ played some top 100 music for what was supposed to be the first 30 minutes of his set. I waited for a while, but he ended up only coming onstage for the last 15 minutes of his set, which was super lame. By that time, I’d already left to catch the next set on a different stage
The Isley Brothers
“…showed exactly why they are as influential as any artist in the 20th century”
Narkis: The Isleys showed absolutely no age besides the stories that very clearly dated them. Throughout his set Ronald isley told stories of his profound impact on the music industry stemming all the way back to 1959. From collaborations with Sam Cooke to Bob Dylan to The Beatles. Ronald and Rudolph really showed exactly why they are as influential as any artist in the 20th century. Between Ronald’s incredible stage presence to Rudolph’s face melting tongue guitar playing. The Isley’s undoubtedly had one of the best performances of the weekend and showed why even after 60 years, they are more than worthy of headlining a festival.
“…a great time for fans of the weird”
Narkis: Having really enjoyed their album that released earlier this month, I was looking forward to how their mathy experimental rock would translate to a live performance. Surprisingly, black midi ended up being one of the standout performances for me of the weekend. Lead singer Geordie Greep delivered his subdued energy, while modulating between Rod Stewart and flea impressions on vocals. Drummer Morgan Simpson was a highlight– melting faces and breaking his own drum kit multiple times throughout the set. Overall, black midi’s set, much like their music, was not for everyone, but was a great time for fans of the weird.
Ellen: Black Midi was by far the weirdest set of the entire weekend. I honestly didn’t know what to expect since I wasn’t familiar with their music. What I learned from Black Midi was to not judge a book by its cover. The lead singer is a scrawny white boy, but the sounds that escaped him were subhuman. It was crazy, and I’m pretty sure my mouth was open the entire performance. There were so many feelings, and I was left equal parts uncomfortable and amazed. There wasn’t an insane crowd, but there was a solid group of people moshing near the front of the stage who were clearly fans.
“…I was hyped up and smiling the entire time”
Ellen: After his performance at Pitchfork, I’m officially a fan of JPEGMAFIA. I have never seen an artist engage more with the crowd, and I’m convinced this man is crazy, but I loved every bit of it from the self-deprecating jokes to the rips he’d repeatedly take from his tiny pink dab pen. Right off the bat, he threw himself in the crowd, using some tall white boy up front to hold himself up as he performed. Towards the end of his set he insisted that everyone in the crowd sit on the muddy ground, and he went out past the pit to perform in the grass. It was so crazy and intimate and I was hyped up and smiling the entire time.
“I’m convinced she is the sweetest, kindest being on this planet”
Ellen: Clairo’s performance matched the vibe of her music. After hours of clouds, the sun was finally out and her and her band were wearing matching rhinestone initials on their face. People in the crowd were super chilled as Clairo’s voice soothed us all and thanked us for listening and being there with her. I’m convinced she is the sweetest, kindest being on this planet. Overall, I really enjoyed her set and listening on the outskirts of the crowd was a nice midday break from the crazier performances that day.
“…another dreamy performance”
Ellen: Whitney was another dreamy performance. Last summer, Light Upon the Lake was my anthem, so I was super happy to be in the sun listening to their laid back tunes. It was really exciting to hear Whitney perform some of their new songs as it was their first time coming out with new music in three years.
“…striking several fierce poses specifically for the photographers”
Narkis: Even though i was really only able to catch a few songs, I was able to see her perform Vroom Vroom, so i was somewhat satisfied. In the limited time i saw, Charli put on a show for the photo pit, striking several fierce poses specifically for the photographers. As much as I wanted to see more of gay icon Charli XCX, I had to leave early to go see indie rock Jesus, Snail Mail. I was later informed that Cupcakke came out to play Lipgloss with Charli. So who do y’all think is the more iconic duo:
Charli + Cupcakke
Clairo and Snail Mail
“…one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend”
Narkis: Going into Pitchfork, Snail Mail was one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend. Her 2018 album, Lush was among my top 5 albums of the year, and it has stayed in rotation to some capacity ever since. I skipped a large portion of Charli XCX to see her, and I was quite satisfied with my decision. Having a pretty small catalog music, Lindsey Jordan played a large portion of her catalog, kicking it off with my personal favorite, Heat Wave. Jordan did a couple solo performances before closing her set out with a rendition of Speaking Terms with a surprise guest, Clairo.
Snail Mail: good
Snail Mail + Clairo = not so good
I had heard that Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy had done a cover of Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls the night before. I wasn’t there but i’m sure it was much better than this.
“…performance did not blow me away”
Narkis: Throughout the day, I was questioning Robyn’s inclusion as the final headliner of this festival. I questioned her actual performance to the festival audience, and general audiences everywhere– figuring Charli XCX would have been a more sensible choice. However, I figured her performance would blow me away and make me eat my words. While I am somewhat of a fan of her music, even after her performance, I still remain confused as to why she was chosen as the headliner. Besides the quite large production on stage that was somewhat of a given for the headliners, Robyn’s on stage performance did not blow me away, and I seemed to get the sense that my opinion was not exactly unpopular.
Ellen: I only knew one song coming into Robyn’s performance, and to be honest I wasn’t super hyped that she was headlining. For her set, my friends and I hung out in the outskirts of the crowd and listened while sitting in the grass. Although I personally don’t love her music, there were a couple groups near by us that were clearly fans and were dancing and singing along.