ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY CHRIS ALVAREZ
JULY 15-17 | CHICAGO—The 11th annual Pitchfork Music Festival was held once again at Chicago's Union Park. The three-day event featured an eclectic mix of musical genres to please the palate. The weather also decided to abide by these rules: There was chilly temps and some rain on Friday, absolutely perfect summer weather on Saturday, and not to be forgotten, brutally hot and humid conditions on Sunday, as is the norm for the Midwest in mid-July. With the summer festival circuit being so saturated, it can be difficult to stand out, but the tried and true Pitchfork Music Festival was able to deliver plenty of stand-out moments that would make anyone in attendance look forward to next year the minute the last note rang out on Sunday night. Below are a handful of thoughts on some of the performers during the weekend.
Artist Giving Their "I Have Arrived" Set: Anderson .Paak
In the last year, Southern California native Anderson .Paak went from under-the-radar artist to a must-see live act. Performing what was arguably the best set of the entire weekend, he was scheduled against music legend Brian Wilson and totally delivered for those who attended his set. His latest album Malibu showcases a carefully crafted mix of laid-back rap, R&B, and soul. His live show, on the other hand, was lightning in a bottle being released to the masses. You almost had that feeling of the Second Coming, while bobbing your head, dancing, and waving your hands in the air. Last year, Chance the Rapper took us to church; this year, Anderson .Paak cast all of his musical demons out in front of us.
Act That Could Headline Right Now and Nobody Would Complain: Savages
Few touring bands right now are the complete force of nature that Savages are with their live show. Showing that girls can rock even harder than boys, the U.K. quartet utterly bludgeoned the Green Stage on Saturday afternoon with an intense mix of songs from debut album Silence Yourself and newest release Adore Life. A perfect blend of hard-hitting drums, perfect bass lines and violently distorted guitars that would make a jet taking off next to you sound quiet kept the massive crowd's attention. At one point, during the song "Husbands," frontwoman Jehnny Beth went down into the audience, seemingly to reaffirm that what fans were watching was very much real. Performances like this can end up more out-of-body experience than reality, and Savages made sure to end up in the front of your mind for the rest of the weekend.
The Most Pitchfork Set of the Weekend: Jenny Hval
Avant-garde seems like an understatement when describing Jenny Hval's performance on Pitchfork's Blue Stage Saturday afternoon. Dressed in all-white jumpsuits and flanked by two dancers in clown makeup, Jenny Hval and the two dancers quickly began to paint each other as the music started. This progressed to dancing as if joined together at the hip, with spoken word poems being recited. A slight homage to Bjork followed as a blow-up pool toy of a swan was wrapped around Hval's body. This was performance art at its best, as the audience was entranced by everything in front of their eyes, while Hval's voice seemed to soothe their ears.
Guilty Pleasure: Carly Rae Jepsen
When looking at the Pitchfork Music Festival lineup and seeing Carly Rae Jepsen's name, one would scratch their head in the choice of her booking. But there was no question she made her presence felt late Friday, amidst unfavorable weather. The Canadian pop singer ripped into songs off her latest release E·MO·TION. Singer Dev Hynes of Blood Orange made a cameo during the performance of "All That," and she would return the favor the next day during his set. From the front row to the back of the park, seemingly everyone knew a song or two that was not her huge hit "Call Me Maybe." When she came to that song in her set, everyone grinned, smiled, laughed, and, of course, took their phones out to record the catchy chorus. Pop has its place among the Pitchfork elite, as much as they would like to deny it, though perhaps not during Carly Rae Jepsen's set.