Festivals

Pitchfork Music Festival: Day Two in Review

All photos by Julian Ramirez

Everything Friday lacked, Saturday delivered. While Frankie Cosmos and Vince Staples felt under-rehearsed and underwhelming, respectively, the acts during Saturday, like Mitski and Angel Olsen, brought structure and others, like Jeff Rosenstock and Francis and the Lights, brought energy and charisma.

Saturday might also be the festival’s only true festival weather day: many festivalgoers donned flowery clothes and their favorite sunglasses, sipped on Goose Island beer, and even, at times, found needed refuge in the shade. But then again, we have one more day to attend.

Here’s our recap of Day Two.

Vagabon

This year’s opening sets have been absolutely enthralling. Vagabon, the musical pseudonym of Laetitia Tamko, led the charge on day two with a confident hand. While there wasn’t the exuberant dancing and spectacle of Friday’s opener, Vagabon’s calm elegance and powerful voice made for a transfixing experience. Joined by a bassist and drummer (Nmandi Ogbonnaya, who was met which cheers of his name from a small contingent of fans), Vagabon gently commanded the stage with ease. “I’m a woman of few words,” uttered Tamko while quietly tuning her guitar between songs. She didn’t need to banter as everything she needed to say was delivered through her poignant lyricism and impressive guitar skills. While her set was much shorter than anyone at the festival would have wanted, Vagabon was able to put in as much passion as she possibly could, making for an ethereal experience.
– Julian Ramirez

Jeff Rosenstock

Jeff Rosenstock started things off at the red stage with an injection of punk rock madness that the festival truly needed. Despite self-deprecating jokes and poking fun at the excess of festival life (like making fun of Lyft ads and having the crowd do a wave starting from the front to the back), Rosenstock delivered one of the more raucous performances of the day. He was a ball of energy as he jammed out and nearly swallowed his mic belting out electrifying tunes. Many fans were made after such an unbridled performance.
– Julian Ramirez

Weyes Blood

Natalie Mering walked on stage with turquoise pants and feathered hair, setting the tone before even singing. She exuded ‘70s AM radio and evoked hippie-dom. She started her set by singing along to a recording, but this introduction went minutes too long. And while she called back to a time shortly after Woodstock, she gave us a forgettable set. The band did best when the sound was big—and those moments, unfortunately, were far and few between.
– Colin Smith

Cherry Glazerr

I’ve been to the blue stage time and time again for almost the past ten years, but I don’t remember the blue stage ever being this packed this early. Between Jeff Rosenstock earlier in the day and Cherry Glazerr later in the afternoon, the artists on Saturday injected Pitchfork with much-needed energy and enthusiasm. The band fits somewhere between straightforward indie-rock and freeform noise. Frontwoman Clementine Creevy switched between melodic singing and visceral shrieks. They’re young, they hit the sweet spot between playing tight and yet loose, and they’ll only go up from here.
– Colin Smith

Cherry Glazerr melted my face off before the end of the first song and then told the crowd to shut the fuck up. It was wonderful.
– Julian Ramirez

Mitski

Mitski drew a huge crowd for her blue stage set and very quickly showed off why she deserved it. Like a few other of the performers today, Mitski’s grace and compelling talent were the draw of her set. Every moment of her time on stage felt important. She stood stoically center stage most of the time with her bass in hand until the final few songs of her set where she exploded into heart pounding performances. Her mesmerizing voice became excitably fierce, revealing just exactly what had been building up inside her. The crowd more than appreciated the final release and as she thanked the crowd, you could tell her appreciation for the reception was just as genuine.
– Julian Ramirez

Francis and the Lights

Francis Starlite gave the festival what Friday needed most: energy. His fancy footwork and enthusiasm felt fresh, sincere, and revitalizing. While Dirty Projectors during the previous evening brought pathos, Francis brought more energy on stage than their nearly 10-piece band. As a collaborator with Chance the Rapper, Bon Iver, and Kanye West, Francis brings electrified soul. Still, with only a DJ on stage and Mr. Starlite himself, his set felt almost like he was performing karaoke (albeit very good karaoke).
– Colin Smith

Angel Olsen

Finesse and control is the name of Angel Olsen’s game here. Easily one of the best sets at Pitchfork thus far, the songwriter returned to her former home for the midday set. For nearly the next hour, she and her 5-piece band tore through her 2016 album, My Woman. Her set started with her short rockers, like “Never Be Mine” or “Shut Up Kiss Me,” eventually built up to the climax with the escalating guitars in “My Woman” until cooling off with the more washed out, dreamier tunes, like “Those Were the Days.” In other words, her set had a clear beginning, middle, and end—an arc and structure that just about every other act this weekend could learn from.
– Colin Smith

PJ Harvey

Marching drums and horns called forward the valkyrie. PJ Harvey’s very presence demanded our full attention. The seasoned artist swapped her guitar today for a saxophone, and she led a full band through her catalog, including several of her ‘90s classics. Her a miniature rock orchestra included (to name a few), a mellotron, a violinist, a saxophonist playing two saxes at once, and multiple percussionists. Just like any pre-headliner act should, PJ Harvey brought us both spectacle and big sound to enthrall us before A Tribe Called Quest ended a much more satisfying day at the Pitchfork Music Festival.
– Colin Smith

S U R V I V E

Oh, S U R V I V E, what could have been? I’m actually not sure. The foursome’s synth sounds are so meditative that I just don’t think the festival circuit is the right place to experience them. When you take into account that the group stays behind their synths and any lighting effect is washed out by the summer’s long lasting daylight, their just isn’t enough on display to appreciate in the open air of Pitchfork.
– Julian Ramirez

A Tribe Called Quest

Saturday’s crowds were absolutely insane. Honestly I haven’t seen the Union Park grounds so full for Pitchfork in quite a while and A Tribe Called Quest were certainly the reason for it. The legendary hip-hop group brought in the masses and gave them a show to behold. Their energy onstage immediately spread through the crowd. How could it not, as Q-Tip demanded the sound be raised higher and higher to the point where every beat could be literally felt by the entire crowd. The setlist made sure to touch up as much of their discography as they could, letting Phife Dawg’s parts play on as a spotlight fixated on his empty mic. These constant tributes to the departed MC were equally touching and exhilarating, truly memorializing the legacy of Phife Dawg and the group as a whole in the best way possible. There set went to the limit of the fest, bringing out some of the best performances of the weekend. Scratch that. This set will go down as one of the best Pitchfork performance and a clear example of what a hip-hop show should be.
– Julian Ramirez

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