Festivals

Pitchfork Music Festival 2018: Day 3 in Review


It’s not a true Pitchfork Festival unless it rains (or gets hot and humid). But the festival didn’t ever get rained out, and the acts didn’t disappoint. (There was a “weather” delay that left gates closed past their scheduled noon opening tine and extended well beyond Nnamdi Ogbonnya’s start time. All I’ll say it was the best sounding “weather” delay I’ve ever heard. – Julian Ramirez)

Sunday welcomed Chicago artists, from the multi-instrumentalist and multi-hyphenated artist Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Kweku Collins, Ravyn Lenae, Smino, Noname, and the famed Chaka Khan.

Ms. Lauryn Hill started only about 20 minutes late — par for the course — much of the rain we felt was the occasional drizzle, and by featuring very young artists alongside more retro acts, Sunday felt like a proper ending to the annual July weekend we look forward to each year.


Nnamdi Ogbonnaya
Despite being having to shorten his set and start much later than he was scheduled due to the weather delay/Lauryn Hill soundcheck, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya seemed to be in his usual high spirits during this excellent opening set. Dressed in the most colorful of outfits with a very recognizable Pitchfork 10 on his chest, Nnamdi jammed out for as long as he possibly could, belting out his genre smashing (hip-hop/art-rock/noise/punk/something else) tracks from Drool. There was no sign of the outdoor setting impeding his energetic performance and demeanor, launching into songs with the same veracity you’d expect from the iconic local. “This song is about eating ASS!” he screamed before giving one of the more hilarious, engrossing, and down right fun performances of the day with ““MMMM MMMM MMM(i’m finninin((dookielipz)))”.
– Julian Ramirez

Irreversible Entanglements
Within moments of Nnamdi’s boisterous set, Irreversible Entanglements took to the Red stage and proceeded to blow everyone’s minds with their emphatic sound. A cohesive and bombastic mix of jazz and spoken word, the band backed Cumae Ayawe’s masterful cadence as she proliferated almost overwhelming verses that forced you to question just about everything. It was an intense experience that felt incredibly unique even on such an eclectic day.
– Julian Ramirez


Kweku Collins
It’s hard not to think of Evanston native Kweku Collins as a Chicago rapper given his connections to the city (and the fact that Evanston is a quick train ride away). But Collins makes it very clear that Evanston is his hometown and he represents the town well in his smooth style of hip hop. Half serenade, half immaculate flow, Collins moved around the stage like a madman having the time of his life as the crowd just ate it up.
– Julian Ramirez


Japanese Breakfast
The shoegazing Japanese Breakfast fit a hazy Sunday well. The breathy vocals, the jangly guitars, and the bass grooves off of “Diving Woman” set the tone to a surprisingly energetic dancy set. What started out as a project by artist Michelle Zauner to grieve the loss of her mother became a genuine celebration of fun. Heck, she even covered a confident sounding “Dreams” by the Cranberries.
– Colin Smith


Noname
Noname has a knack at poking fun at her audience. “You lazy white privileged people,” she called out to the crowd. Since seeing her last year at Audiotree Festival, she seems more comfortable on stage. Along with her peers Saba and Smino, she shows that Chicago’s newest wave of hip-hop artists is subtle, poetic, and jazzy as hell.
– Colin Smith


DRAM
Oh, Big Baby DRAM. I remember seeing him and his DJ perform twice at Lollapalooza a couple years ago. Once to a hype crowd melting in the sun at one of the big stages and then later that day at a tiny, lesser visited stage that was just as fired up and crowded well past the point of comfort. Dram reminded Chicago of those sets, appreciating them as one of the first times he saw himself having made it. Much like those performances, DRAM was all about having a good time on stage and off at Pitchfork, delivering tracks of his debut and promising that a new album would be coming soon. Knowing exactly how far his reach can go, DRAM saved the most obvious of his hits for the latter part of the set, playing “Cha Cha”, “DRAM sings Special” and “Broccoli” right around each other.  He dashed into the crowd during “Broccoli,” jamming out with his fans and greeting as many as he could before ending his set.
– Julian Ramirez

Alex G
I’ll be honest, knowing that Alex G is a home studio wizard and off-kilter, genre-defying records, I wasn’t sure what to expect of his live performance. But he didn’t disappoint. The band often switched up between laid-back tunes, like “Proud,” and spurts of noise or jammy interludes, including the jazz guitar licks on “County.” The little quartet made for one of the most fun acts on Sunday.
– Colin Smith

Chaka Khan
Pitchfork has a penchant for choosing some extraordinary legends to grace their stage and this year is no different. Chaka Khan radiated the type of bigger than life aura you’d expect and delivered with a pretty enthralling set. Granted, her voice isn’t at the height of its powers, but to expect that after all these years is a little much. What she delivered was a fun and entertaining performance that held true to her talent and that of her backing band and vocalist, all working in elegant unison.
– Julian Ramirez

Japandroids
Japandroids is Blink 182 meets stadium rock, meaning it’s the Vans Warped Tour of Pitchfork Fest. Anthemic and lively, the energy the band bring is impressive for just two mortals. They’re older, too, and rebellious classics like “The Nights of Wine and Roses” still hold that mosh-inducing and “hugging your bro” energy. The band’s raucous music poured over the entire park before fans awaited Ms. Hill’s tardy appearance. Although the duo will be taking a break from touring soon to focus on writing, these matured Canadians still have bite.
– Colin Smith

Lauryn Hill
By this point, you should know that Lauryn Hill has a reputation when it comes to live performances. She may be late, she may not be in the best mood, and the show may suffer from that. Well, thankfully all of that was kept to a minimum. Starting her set after a 20+ minute DJ Set, Lauryn Hill emerged on stage to a crowd of incredibly devoted fans. There were definitely a few technical issues that plagued her set as she motioned towards the side stage to fix them, but they never really affected her singing or presence. She was determined to do everything she could to show the Pitchfork crowd her appreciation for supporting her for so long. Hill was belting out her The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill tracks, which were definitely reworked from their originals, with such fervor and passion, making these unforgettable tracks one hell of a performance.
– Julian Ramirez

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