CHICAGO — Music enthusiasts gathered for the 10th annual Pitchfork Music Festival that took place July 17-19. The festival lineup’s fusion of up-and-coming acts with those already influential and established was fittingly cutting-edge; no less was expected of its hosting online publication, which has been a popular source of critical music journalism since 1995.
Friday saw performers emblematic Pitchfork’s early focus on indie rock: Jessica Pratt, Mac DeMarco, Panda Bear, Iceage, Ought, and Wilco. From the first day, the festival felt more pointedly music-centric in comparison to others and there was not much activity outside of the actual stages – you could grab a free rug from FLOR, shop for your record collection at an extensive bazaar (our favorite booths were Permanent and Le Cave Records), or check out poster art from Flatstock. But luckily for the vast majority sporting band tees, uninterested in the diversions offstage, the performances were arranged in a way that left little time in between acts. As patrons shifted from stage to stage, highlights of the day included theatrical performances from Iceage and Ought.
Day Two featured a more diverse line-up of artists; there were a range of styles playing the three stages. Acts Saturday included Protomartyr, Future Brown, Parquet Courts, A$AP Ferg, and the newly-reunited Sleater-Kinney. Hoards of fans entered the festival grounds ready for the forecasted sunny weather, but unfortunately the day was interrupted by a downpour followed by a tornado warning — an apparent testament to Chicago’s unpredictable weather. The festival grounds were evacuated shortly after Ex Hex’s set but seamlessly resumed once the rain ended, with most bands still playing on-time. We saw fantastic performances from newcomers Bully and Shamir, who had fans moshing and singing aloud packing the smaller Blue Stage. 1990s rock band Sleater-Kinney closed out the night.
Day Three featured the strongest hip-hop and electronic acts of all three days with groups such as Future Islands and Run the Jewels drawing the largest crowds. This brought a different feel to the festival, with attendees dressed more akin to the conception of a festival-goer – bro tanks and hippie-inspired dresses were sported in lieu of band tees on Sunday. It definitely felt like a party, which was fitting for the conclusion of the festival. The Julie Ruin featuring Kathleen Hanna of riot grrrl fame and the soulful Perfume Genius stole the show that day, while Chance the Rapper closed the festival. A Chicagoan himself, he was ecstatic to be the headliner and made this clear, exclaiming at one point that he used to play basketball on the festival grounds.
In the spirit of Pitchfork, it might be necessary to provide a numerical rating. The festival ran smoothly (even with the evacuation), sound was almost flawless (a few mishaps with Jessica Pratt acoustic set being overpowered by ILOVEMAKONNEN’s set), the lineup was progressive and security was uncharacteristically hospitable (they provided water to the crowd). Besides the lineup, nothing was extremely remarkable, but that’s kind of the purpose: the festival atmosphere was one of unobtrusiveness, allowing each individual performance to take precedence; the event was wholly successful in its provision of supplying great, live music. Pitchfork can curate a great festival.
We’ll give 2015 a 8.2/10 because, why not?
Article and photos by Penelope Leggett