After celebrating its 10th anniversary last summer, the Pitchfork Music Festival returned to Union Park in Chicago for another three-day weekend of diverse performances from an assortment of acts. While the festival has tended to favor up and coming indie-rock-focused acts balanced against bigger marquee headliners, this edition felt more like the year of the hip outsider. The lineup seemed to downshift a bit and focus more on a broader spectrum of sounds and artists as opposed to relying on a core of big mainstream radio-friendly headliners. If last year’s Pitchfork was the wild Saturday night with mega headliners Wilco, Sleater-Kinney, and Chance the Rapper, this year was the chill Sunday morning after… The noise was definitely turned down. Punk, harder rock, and rap acts seemed to give way to more R&B, Jazz, experimental artists, and even a bit of shiny pop, including: composer, band leader, and jazz saxophonist, Kamasi Washington; the sexed-up R&B of Miguel; the cosmic jazz fusion of the Sun Ra Arkestra; the cathartic pop of Carly Rae Jepson; and the experimental performance-art of Jenny Hval. Even the headliners this year seemed to be dialed into a more laid-back groove with Beach House, Sufjan Stevens, and FKA Twigs tapped to close out each night on the big main stage.
Friday kicked off with overcast skies, cooler than usual weather, and a thinner than usual crowd (apparently two of the three days did not fully sell-out). Those that braved the drizzling off and on rain were treated to some solid performances without the normal blazing heat and long lines that often plague summer music festivals. Highlights included: A festival-opening set from Car Seat Headrest that featured a cover of David Bowie’s “Blackstar”; an unassuming but engaging set of 70’s influenced country-tinged rock from local Chicago band, Whitney; a euphoric dose of glossy, hook-laden pop from Carly Rae Jepson that was greeted with frenzied approval from the atypical but supportive crowd; a triumphant return to the stage, complete with new music, from the ever-shifting lineup of Canadian indie powerhouse Broken Social Scene; and a dreamy closing set from Beach House.
Check out the photos from Day 1 below.
Photos © Dan Kulpa