Pitchfork’s mellow atmosphere served Saturday’s lineup well.
With the threat of rain still looming large over the weekend, Saturday seemed poised to be a “skip” day for many festival-goers. Arguably the weakest day in terms of lineup strength, the outcome was surprisingly more solid than anyone would have anticipated—staple and venerable acts formed a day just as enjoyable as the more dynamic book-endings.
The day started out appropriately chilled out and relaxed, as Chicago’s Paul Cherry provided Mild High Club-esque songs to a crowd ok with spending some time sitting in the grass. The sheen of Cherry’s 70s spectacle proved to be a welcomed chance of pace before berhana injected the audience with uptempo romps and smooth production grooves. Zola Jesus took the Green stage not far after, and after seeing her invigorating performance fall flat earlier this year at Boston Calling, it was nice to see Pitchfork more eagerly receptive of her art and performance. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s beautiful electronic soundscape was a pleasure to catch—those in attendance were greeted by the visceral nature of her giant patch pay and analog synthesizers.
Making her was from London, guitarist Nilüfer Yanya had the biggest midday draw, playing an inventive mix of jazz and rock (if it can even be pigeon-holed by these constraints) with a hearty full band. “Thanks 4 Nothing” and “Golden Cage” received many approving head bobs as the set progressed to a groovy abandon by its close. Quite similarly, the one and only Moses Sumney captured and stunned with incredibly magnetic arrangements, adding clarinet, flute, and violin to complement his unique vocal range. Raphael Saadiq infused some hesitant dancing from the dampened population, though his short rendition of Solange’s Cranes in the Sky got a few moving along. Blood Orange and The War on Drugs made out well, as those camping for Fleet Foxes seemed well-read enough to handle the shifts in style between the two artists. Both sounded more complete and realized live, bringing energy felt in two very much “studio” albums (Freetown Sound and A Deeper Understanding, respectively) to life.
With rain falling once again, Fleet Foxes came out of the gate with the power and immediacy of “Grown Ocean”. The band crafted new connections in the transitions between older and newer songs, developing new takes on their catalog while brass accompaniment from the Westerlies only enhanced the performance. Looking around, it seemed as if most were genuinely enjoying themselves as the music became framed perfectly by the weather for a second night.