A recap: the final day of Pitchfork | News Entertainment

A recap: the final day of Pitchfork

21 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A recap: the final day of Pitchfork.

CHICAGO — The closing-night headliner of the Pitchfork Music Festival, which took over Union Park here from Friday afternoon through Sunday night, was Chance the Rapper, as modern an independent music star as there is. Vic Mensa, Wilco, How To Dress Well, Freddie Gibbs (who’s from down the street in Gary, Ind.) all played various stages over the weekend, and Mensa’s closing set on Saturday night was undeniably one of the best of the Fest. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Chance’s headlining set at the music festival was a perfect tribute to the strife and growth of the city of Chicago, the home of Pitchfork. But mellow doesn’t mean sleepy, and I know I felt the energy pulsating throughout the day as the fest reached its inevitable climax with Chance The Rapper’s headlining set. Emerging from backstage to surprise revelers, Franklin joined Chance as well as The Social Experiment for the magical performance of the big-band single, which also featured vocalist Jamila Woods singing lead vocals.

The backstage area was filled with his friends in Social Experiment t-shirts, and there was a large contingent of folks sporting Kids These Days shirts too, showcasing how that small scene of friends, including Vic Mensa, has blossomed into something garnering international acclaim. I had to cut short my time watching The Julie Ruin, though, in order to catch Madlib and Freddie Gibbs perform, predominantly from their recent album together. Also, adorably, Chance’s friends were asking everyone what they were drinking, and if the answer wasn’t the Rapper’s 312 No Collar collaboration, they’d politely suggest you try that brew next.

I didn’t listen to a lot of Freddie Gibbs going into this festival, but his stage presence was commanding and his rapping was fantastic, all spun over Madlib mixing live beats. New fans, old fans, it didn’t matter—the people were out to support their hometown hero, who just a few years back had to hop the fence to get into the festival. His control over the crowd was absolute as he sang, rapped, and danced to tracks from his solo mix-tape Acid Rap and his collaboration with Donnie Trumpet titled Surf. Chance made it clear that it was an “historic night” for him and declared that it would be his final show in his hometown for a while as he moves onward and upward in his career.

It’s mostly a ballad-y affair, but Katie Crutchfield knows just when to spice the set up with a rocker or two to keep folks in the field on their toes. Given the kind of show he put on at Pitchfork, the sky’s the limit for the 22-year-old. [Corbin Reiff] The fact that Wilco released a new album, Star Wars, the day before it headlined Pitchfork was definitely not a coincidence. And a reminder that all those old walls — the ones between genres, between high and low culture, between the mainstream and the underground — are just rubble now.

I’m standing near the back of the crowd, enjoying the vibe, and slowly slipping into a slightly hypnotic state as Crutchfield’s voice floats across the field under the midday sun. That message was really hammered home on Friday night, when Wilco kicked off its headlining set by playing the entire 11-song album in order from start to finish. The group eventually veered into older standards, like “Heavy Metal Drummer,” but testing the audience with Star Wars was both inspired and insipid.

For two decades, Pitchfork has drawn and redrawn boundaries of taste for an audience of connoisseurs, first as an indie-rock-focused concern and more recently as a one-stop shop for forward thinkers in almost every musical genre. Star Wars isn’t the band’s best material, and hordes of casual Wilco fans fled after six or seven tracks, but rapid Tweedyites may have found the choice inspired.

This was the 10th Pitchfork festival — the 11th if you count the Intonation festival that Pitchfork organized in 2005 — and conveniently (intentionally?) the lineup closely mirrored the arc of Pitchfork’s coverage and indie music’s constantly moving center: Friday consisted almost entirely of guitar-driven rock, Saturday was a mixed bag of styles, while the last half of Sunday was made up of hip-hop and electronic music. Happy afternoon Pitchfork!” keyboardist Kenny Mellman said before playing “Blueberry Island.” It’s a joy to watch Hanna dance onstage and deliver meaningful messages to the Pitchfork generation. Daytime electronic acts are difficult for me to photograph, as there’s no light show to compliment the artist basically standing behind a mixing table, but it was fun to just relax for a moment and enjoy the music.

It was a heaping helping of brand new material, if nothing else. [Marah Eakin] Ever the jokester, Mac DeMarco’s late afternoon set was packed with cartoonish voices and absurdist remarks from bandmates Pierce McGarry and Andrew Charles White (“Thanks for coming guys, Red Hot Chili Peppers are up next!”). As she sings on “Kids in NY,” which she dedicated to the younger generation of kids making art who inspire her, “there’s still a lot to say.” —Jessica Mlinaric Of course the guy wearing a t-shirt with “Everything is Problematic” scrawled across it would intro a track “This song is about euthanasia. The hour and 15-minute-long set began with “Home Studio (Back Up In This Bitch)”, a beautiful and fitting starter for his first Chicago show in months.

But all kidding aside, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more genuine declaration of love than DeMarco’s “Still Together,” which he dedicated to his girlfriend Keira. After having the audience join him in a “Happy Birthday” sing-along for his lady, the set-closer found DeMarco crooning (and the crowd swooning) for his “easy love.” His voice may not have been at its strongest, but he still managed to hit the chorus’ B.W. Finally, the festival returned to the hip-hip scene for good with Run the Jewels, a duo comprised of Brooklyn-native El-P and Atlanta’s Killer Mike. Given that, the festival’s most surprising feature was the resilience of that old, now greatly diminished, standby, indie rock, which thrived and exploded in the late 1980s and early ’90s, back when affiliations were tribal and fierce. And, as it has become routine, DeMarco laughed in the face of the humidity to wrap up the song with a sweaty, minutes-long crowd-surf that drove the audience wild: All in the name of love. [Cameron Scheetz] During her band’s Friday night set, Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches asked the crowd if the artist who played the Red Stage before them—Mac DeMarco—had been smoking, because cigarette butts littered the stage. (If she’d seen this promo photo of DeMarco, she needn’t have asked.) Mayberry chided DeMarco, saying Chvrches were going to leave a bunch of garbage at his house.

Chvrches’ tidy set leaned heavily on songs from 2013’s excellent The Bones Of What You Believe, but also featured the second-ever performance of “Leave A Trace”—released the day before—and “Make Them Gold,” both from the forthcoming Every Open Eye, due out September 25. [Kyle Ryan] Bully frontwoman Alicia Bognanno is a force to be reckoned with. While she performed, Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee — a student of that time — was playing on a bigger stage across the park, but told the fans in her crowd that they should consider seeing Ms.

As much a victory lap as a performance, Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein offered up a set jam-packed with exhilarating explosions of ferocious rock passion, as Janet Weiss pounded the entire audience into submission with her heavy-hitting style. Her earlier work was always a little too mellow and twangy for me—collected on The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas—so when I heard her explosive new album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit I kind of couldn’t believe it was the same person. This was not a moment meant to please everyone, to please outsiders, or to please the many folks probably watching the stream from the comfort of their homes.

Not even a mid-song kick that sent her right onto her butt could keep Brownstein down, as her jagged, angular riffing propelled the songs forward and cleared space for Tucker’s speaker-rattling wail. Despite a sound mix that too often kept that lead guitar overshadowed by Tucker’s bass-heavy ax-work (notable especially when Tucker’s guitar went nearly silent after a particular pedal was turned off, during “One More Hour”), Sleater-Kinney owned every frame of the stage. Onstage her persona expands and she easily holds the crowd in the palm of her hand as she kicks out hit after hit, and abuses the strings on her guitar, pulling out great sheets of caterwauling noise to fill the spaces between her ear worm melodies. And judging by the rapturous crowd reception, it owned every acre of the entire park, too. [Alex McCown] At times during Courtney Barnett’s Sunday set, anyone watching the big screens in Union Park would’ve been forgiven for thinking they’d slipped through a time warp and ended up at Reading Festival circa 1992. Alicia Bognanno of Bully is another able student of the early ’90s, more postgrunge than riot grrrl: Her band’s set here was terse, shouty and great.

In a festival born out of the traditions of the largely white, largely male indie rock music community, Chance, a young black man from the South Side of Chicago, instead brought Franklin. I grew up with Franklin’s music, finding his grooves like “Brighter Day” to be a welcome antidote to the monotony of Sunday Baptist church services. Performing for the first time ever with a full backing crew behind him, Jesso Jr. turned his sweet and plaintive songs funky with brass and stand-up bass, a move that wasn’t always welcome.

Perfume Genius, who rivetingly translated his art song into sensual growls accompanied by slinky body movements.) This festival tends to spotlight certain artists just beginning to move beyond their formative days and into broader acclaim; often they bulk up for the bigger stage. In many cases, the spackling serves them well — Tobias Jesso Jr., so goofy when alone, was far less grating with a whimsical band behind him; Mac DeMarco, who often seems as if he’s performing by accident, was anchored by a band that played convincing dreamy synth-pop; and Protomartyr, wearing all black under an oppressive afternoon sun, played bruised, slashing postpunk, smeared with deadpan declarations from the frontman Joe Casey. Chance frequently referred to Chicago as “the crib,” like when he played hits including “Cocoa Butter Kisses” or included accompaniment from current and former Chicago vocalists like Eryn Allen Kane or Sir the Baptiste. “We as a city are growing … Me as a man is growing,” Chance later said and it was true. A little much. [Marah Eakin] An issue that’s only been precipitated by the sweep of summer festival season is the fact the some acts are just better suited to indoor shows.

Whether he wore a Chicago Bulls jersey or displayed “Sox” and Chicago flag visuals, Chance’s set felt like a bridge between what he was as a Chicagoan and what he will soon become as a superstar. But the highlight for me was the bombastic rendition of “Sunday Candy.” The first single from Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment’s Surf, the performance was a spectacle of hyper-colored visuals, multi-layered backing vocals, exquisite horns, and the propulsive energy of everyone from the performers on stage to the audience at hand.

To be fair, the sound was sharp and the added thump of some choice cuts from Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper raised the pulse, but the set never seemed to build to anything. The festival was briefly evacuated on Saturday because of storms.) Generally, Pitchfork favors dance music outsiders, but its relationship to hip-hop is less consistent. Whispers—who threw flowers from the stage during the song—prefaced it by saying people always ask him why he does it, when the world isn’t such a great place at the moment. “I mean what a wonderful world it could be,” he said. Chicago is also a city that has produced vibrant and troubling rap music in recent years, namely the drill movement spearheaded by Chief Keef, which has come hand in hand with an awful spate of street violence. Dressed in dark pants, a dark blazer, and a dark shirt—and looking less like a toner salesman than he often does—Casey faced the hot early-afternoon temperatures on Saturday with typical impassiveness: “I didn’t dress right.” He stayed laconic through his band’s set, which mixed new material (“Blues Festival” from this year’s split with R.

Ring, songs from The Agent Intellect, due out this October) with tracks from last year’s excellent Under Color Of Official Right and 2013’s No Passion All Technique. [Kyle Ryan] While the smaller blue stage generally managed to carve out its own space regardless of the acts performing several hundred yards away, Jessica Pratt got the short end of that stick when ILoveMakonnen kicked in on the main stage three or four songs into her set. Chicago hip-hop was briefly showcased here during Future Brown’s set with an appearance by Sicko Mobb, purveyors of bop music, the optimistic counterpoint to drill. To her credit, she dutifully ignored it (save for an “apologies for my ringtone” joke about the sound), and did her best with nothing but a second guitarist quietly accompanying her affecting music. Hopefully it was enough to get some festival-goers to give her music a listen in the quiet of their own homes. [Alex McCown] If only the culture-war zealots vying for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination could license footage of A$AP Ferg’s performance Saturday afternoon, they’d be set for scary fund-raising videos. Few things would get nervous conservatives to open their wallets like Ferg bounding around onstage during “Dump Dump”—“I fucked your bitch, nigga! / I fucked your bitch / She sucked my dick, nigga! / She sucked my dick!”—and his DJ punctuating the end of every song with gun-shot sound effects. (Thirty-four people were shot in Chicago over the weekend.) It almost played like a parody of hip-hop excess.

As a guest, he brought out Kirk Franklin, the gospel maximalist, and asked him, “Can we turn all the way up for God right now?” This was, by any measure, a rousing pairing — a city in need of a salve being ministered to by one of its favored sons. As Justin pointed out, Jamie xx opened his set with a nod to Chicago’s House roots, as one should do when playing dance music in Chicago, and it set a perfect tempo for a breezy afternoon electronic set. It didn’t matter to the crowd that ate it all up, dutifully yelling when Ferg and Baller asked which side was the loudest (and then, naturally, men versus women) and, at one point, crowd-surfing a trashcan up to the stage. A rowdy festival crowd made less inhibited by rain isn’t going to stop and ask, “This is all kind of obvious, isn’t it?” [Kyle Ryan] Just three weeks ago, Long Beach rapper Vince Staples dropped his fiery debut album Summertime ’06 to tremendous critical acclaim. I love his work with The xx, it’s full of subtle tension and simply lovely, but live I prefer this version of Jamie xx, where he digs deep into a catalog of his musical influences and turns out a fun, flirty and summery set.

Luckily, Shamir brought the goods and delivered a dance-heavy performance that was like a second wind, his infectious energy pulsing through the crowd. I wish at some point I remembered to grab a glass of the recently launched Blue Line, which is a Czech pilsner seasonal and a sequel of sorts to their Green Line pale ale, but oh well. By the time he let his hair down and the looping horns of standout “In For The Kill” kicked in, it seemed pretty obvious that we were watching a young pop icon setting course for a successful career. [Cameron Scheetz] Opening slots on the first day of a festival are tough gigs under the best circumstances.

Yet Natalie Prass managed to charm a crowd of restless, sweltering people still antsy to explore the grounds into a laid-back collection of swaying fans. Her set kicked off with a sultry torch-song vamp (all she was missing were backup singers crooning “Sha-bop Sha-bop”), and then swung through bouncy upbeat numbers, psychedelia-infused explorations, and even some Ani DiFranco-esque sing-speak sass. Vincent’s mind-melting outing at last year’s festival, Future Islands made the most of their pre-headliner slot and further solidified themselves as an essential live band. Herring is the band’s howling life force, a singer so emotionally attached to his music that it pours out of him through guttural growls, King Kong-style chest beating, and—holy crap—those dance moves. The hip-swinging and high-kicking kept the energy at insane levels as the band powered through a near perfect set of synth-heavy jams, both old and new. “Seasons (Waiting On You)” was an obvious smash, but new single “The Chase” was the most pleasant surprise, another great track from the band that just takes on a whole new life when performed live.

Festival euphoria hits as I eat a cheeseburger, hang with the best and revel in an extended version of “Can’t Do Without You” drifting over the sun-dappled audience. If Future Islands keeps it up, we’ll be seeing them at the top of festival bills in no time. [Cameron Scheetz] You can’t hold it against Jamie xx for the lack of special guests during his Sunday set, but, man, it would’ve been incredible to have Young Thug magically appear on stage for their “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” collaboration.

And, sure, it’d have been nice to see an xx or two, but this was rightfully Jamie’s moment to shine (he even brought out an oversize disco ball to make that point clear.) He didn’t disappoint in the beats department, encouraging some pockets of dance parties amid the massive crowd, but his laid-back style meant that the show was lacking some momentum. Luckily, his sampler platter of musical influences kept the sounds diversified enough to keep things interesting, from trance to soul to the steel drums of calypso. They put their usual antics into overdrive for Pitchfork Festival, bringing out a slew of guests and getting the whole field moshing and bouncing along.

As if to prove they weren’t about to let a stupid celestial body push them around, the band members tucked directly into a marathon version of “Our Love,” its digital wobbling allowing for minimal downtime between Jaime xx’s dance party and their own. Entering the stage to Queen’s “We Are The Champions” as the crowd surged forward with fists in the air, they launched right into their title track “Run the Jewels.” The field was one giant tidal wave as bodies bounced up and down in time as El and Mike traded off rapid-fire verses.

Singer-guitarist Tim Beeler doubled down on his affected vocal deliveries, blowing up his Lee Ranaldo-meets-Gordon Gano shtick to near-operatic levels of a performance. The band sweated through a short and sweet set of stutter-stop, drone-meets-Fugazi numbers, earning shouts of approval from pogoing kids just hitting their stride. Lyrical references to obscure political movements and artists may have been drowned out by the swagger and distortion, but in the moment, nobody cared. [Alex McCown] Live performances by The New Pornographers have always been at the mercy of its members’ other commitments: The only time it’s a bad idea to have Neko Case or Dan Bejar in your band is when Case and Bejar are occupied with their own projects.

There’s an easy fix when the Destroyer frontman is out (just skip the Bejar songs, a small fraction of the New Pornos’ discography at this point), but a permanent stand-in for the band’s biggest, brassiest voice has proven elusive. A decade after Kathryn Calder first stepped in to take Case’s parts (but then became a full-fledged Pornographer), the band brought another potential keeper to the Green Stage: vocalist-violinist Simi Stone. The second De La Rocha stepped out the crowd turned into complete chaos, a visceral song that already hits so many truths cranked up even farther thanks to De La Rocha spitting his verse live.

Together with Calder, Stone filled out the all-important harmonies on New Pornographers classics new (“Backstairs” and “Dancehall Domine,” from 2014’s Brill Bruisers) and old (“The Laws Have Changed,” “The Bleeding Heart Show”). And with bow in hand, she even managed to bring some of the chamber-pop heft of “Moves” to Union Park. [Erik Adams] You’d think Pitchfork would be the type of festival where a guy could wear makeup and not worry about getting hassled for it. Chance is delivering a headlining set complete with dancers, a kaleidoscopic light show, a live band on an elevated stage, a gospel choir and a visceral dynamism. If you participated, this is your show.” He then ceded control to trumpetist Nico Segal, otherwise known as Donnie Trumpet, for an interlude of material from the recent album, Surf, which finds Chance exploring his love of Herbie Hancock, Ramsey Lewis and other essential Chicago jazz artists. I don’t know where Chance is going in the future and it sounds like he isn’t quite sure either, but I’m excited for the ride to see where it goes.

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