Hosted in Union Park for the past seventeen years, Pitchfork Music Festival returns and brings in many talented artists to Chicago. This year’s line-up features The Smile, Bon Iver, Kelela, and many more artists spread across the three color coordinated stages across the park.
Simply put, Pitchfork brings out the very odd and very alternative of Chicago’s music lovers. It was very amazing to see such a small area be transformed into a wonderful weekend experience. Along the curve of Washington Boulevard there were over 50 vendors, a Record Fair, Crafts Fair, and other amenities that were promoted throughout the weekend.
As I approached the entrance it was fairly easy to find my way around the festival grounds. The security check was simple and smooth which allowed for everyone to get into the festival quickly. Not dealing with long lines is always a plus in any case.
Nation of Language promised many things with their set, however they accomplished that and much more. The dance moves of Ian Richard Devaney, Aiden Noelle’s incredible vocals, and an all around interactive band makes for one of the best sets of the day.
Later in the night, with much anticipation, arrived the wonderful Thom Yorke with his new debut band The Smile. Many chanted at the group to play Creep by Radiohead. Understandable, but it diminishes the separation between this new project, The Smile, and the past of Radiohead. While it is important to acknowledge their past, The Smile certainly remains distinctive and fresh.
Saturday was a mix of confusion and slight frustration with a side of some rain. The day looked promising, cool and breezy. The rain had come and it began to drizzle ever so lightly. The drizzling and lightning delayed the music festival which ultimately led to the decision to cut or reschedule acts.
The most frustrating part of Saturday had to be the communication between Pitchfork and its attendees. As sets were getting pushed back at each stage, the park had officially announced that it was closed for the day due to weather conditions. All festival goers were shown the exit. It was incredibly confusing as the rain was dying down by the time we reached the exit. Walking home in what may barely be classified as rain, notifications from Pitchfork that the festival will continue within the hour. Many responses from disgruntled attendees showcased how irrational and abrupt the decision was. However I will consider the fact that Pitchfork values the safety and health of its performers and attendees.
Moving on, once arriving back at Pitchfork grounds I was able to settle in at the barricade for the wonderful Weyes Blood. It was incredible to see Natalie and her team set the stage. She wore a wonderful white dress with a cape attached. The audience could tell how much she enjoyed twirling the cape around as she moved across the stage. It was a wonderfully melancholic night with Weyes Blood.
Closing out the festival on Saturday was alternative indie group Big Thief. It was a beautiful mix of soft vocals and powerful shouting.
The night was nowhere near perfect but it was wonderfully exciting and amazing to continue the day with some live music.
Sunday I started the day out with Florist at the blue stage. The blue stage had some of my favorite acts of the year. Sunday was a day I was looking forward to as Pitchfork had brought out hardcore punk band Soul Glo. The pit did not disappoint this day and it was wonderful to see everyone in their element. I thoroughly enjoyed how security began to prepare for the exciting crowd that was about to erupt here. Just before Pierce Jordan, vocalist, took the stage, security was teaching each other how to catch crowd surfers and return them to the crowd. It was legendary.
Food from all over Chicago was an incredible treat. I returned to the smoothie stand several times as they were extremely refreshing. Billy Goat Tavern had a wonderful selection of greasy food perfect for the end of a long day.
Closing out the night was Kelela, Killer Mike, and Bon Iver. Bon Iver’s set was incredibly intimate despite being extremely crowded; no photographers were allowed to shoot the set. It was incredible to experience such talent live.
All in all Pitchfork brought the heat this summer. An incredibly intimate space, range of artists, and wonderful amenities made this weekend one to look forward to every year.