by WRBB Media Team
Chris: Yesterday’s rain seemed to have a little left over. But that still didn’t stop “Pitchfork Conde Nast,” as JPEGMAFIA quipped early on in the day. Besides a frantic set from black midi, JPEG essentially kicked the day off, and there was truly no better option. His craze-filled shrieks and cult-like fans made for one of the most energized sets of the weekend. After successfully crowd surfing at 3 in the afternoon, JPEG made way for Massachusetts’ very own Clairo, who had a set that was as monotonous as it was concerned with aesthetic over sound.
Khruangbin and Whitney helped pivot the festival into the funkiest hours of the weekend. To see Whitney (and a handful of star-studded guests) against the backdrop of the Sears Tower felt like the quintessential Pitchfork postcard. With the park much more mellowed out, some fans had no idea what would hit them in the form of Charli XCX. As “Vroom Vroom’s” bass slammed into the everyone’s chests, I nearly forgot this was Pitchfork.
To close the day, Robyn proved to be a nice nightcap, but was also the most lackluster of the three headliners.
This is my first time in the midwest, and I now know it won’t be my last. I’ve been charmed by some great music, some even better people and a gorgeous stretch of land. We’re only itching to see what comes next in 2020.
Charli XCX. Photo by Chris Triunfo for WRBB.
Andrew: After a light rain delay scare, Sunday began the way Pitchfork had started (and has continued to be)—with a bevy of eye-popping early acts. Each day has brought fans into trusted, curatorial arms, as no act felt necessarily contrived nor ill-advised. Though many acts were close to phoning it in at one point or another, the collective conscious and word of mouth has been overwhelmingly positive. Riding on that high, U.K. post-everythingers black midi delivered a meteoric and absolutely jaw-dropping set. With harsh baritone vocals and seething percussion work, the multi-genre outfit continued to shift the paradigm of what a live performance can do for its audience. Truly cathartic.
Baltimore rapper/producer JPEGMAFIA stunned crowd and crew alike with an inimitable stage presence, oscillating between his calm stage banter and a heavy, chaotic explosion of words and movement. Routinely finding his way past the barrier, JPEG brought Chicago’s finest moshers along for the wildest ride, and of the most invigorating sets of the weekend. The ever-vibey Khruangbin stayed true to their strengths, while local rockers Whitney brought musician friends from across the 3-day festival to help cap off a wonderful showing with a rendition of “Golden Days.” Charli XCX pivoted hard to ramp up the energy and never letting it settle back down, the perfect segway into a loaded Robyn set.
With heavy hearts, the WRBB team is sad to leave Chicago behind. The city itself serves as a wonderful backdrop to the eclectic and quality taste-making that Pitchfork affords every year, and this time was no exception. Though no act on the lineup played the role of heavy hitter, many of the industry’s more low-key and venerable artists were given a chance to shine through. Coupled with the acute throwback sensibility of bookings like Stereolab, Mavis Staples, and Belle & Sebastian, this weekend successfully hit its mark. Let’s hope next year brings the same.
Staff and volunteers coat the ground with hot wood chips after some early rainfall. Photo by Chris Triunfo for WRBB.
Catu: Pitchfork day three meets us with cloudy skies and a jam-packed schedule. The storm has turned the park into a muddy, treacherous site but the weather is delightfully cool as we arrive in time for black midi. To break it down, it seems to be an experiment in guitar distortion and high-pitched gibberish ramblings. Perhaps never something that I’d intentionally seek out, but the performance is incredibly committed and energetic, if somewhat disturbing.
JPEGMAFIA follows and after seeing him perform in Afterhours, I am not surprised by the sheer amount of people gathered at the stage. JPEG performs with a wild energy, running from side to side, climbing onto the barriers and collapsing on the audience as he spits words into his mic. He connects with the crowd in a surreal way and for me, has got to be one of the best performers of the entire weekend.
Then it’s time for bedroom pop’s sweetheart. If a bit bland, Clairo’s set sounds crystal clear, drawing the majority of the festival goers in for an easy listen.Unfortunately, the set pales in comparison to the rest of the day, with her stage presence being the most forgettable. I suppose if you spend a lot of time listening to her music, you might be able to decipher when one song ends and another starts but it all ends up sounding the same to me.
Whitney performs as the sun is setting and the sky is streaked with orange and pink, to a large adoring fan. Live, they are exquisite. In fact, they sound better than their actual recordings and I have a hard time pulling myself away to get a good spot for Charli XCX. It’s worth it because she absolutely smashes her set. Despite being accosted by drunk girls and guys alike, I am totally in love with her performance. it’s a near perfect set, with the crowd singing along to every word. It’s the perfect end to Pitchfork.
The conclusive rating for today is a 10/10. Every set, regardless if it matched my taste, was an immersive, magnetic experience. The sound was impeccable, so refined and so sharp it could cut through glass. As far as music festivals go, Pitchfork has near perfected the experience. It all comes down to a lineup made up of artists who are not just in love with what they do but who are in love with the perfomance of it.