The final day of Pitchfork Music Festival was a blast! With the weather behaving for the most part (save for a few moments of rain in the late afternoon), day three offered up a great lineup that leaned heavily towards hip-hop artists. And with stage headliners like Toro y Moi, Cate Le Bon, and The Roots, there was no doubt that this year’s fest would end spectacularly.
L’Rain @ Green Stage
L’Rain really brought out the storms Sunday morning with her psychedelic and ambient sounds that left Pitchfork in a trance. It was worth waking up early one last day to make it out to L’Rain’s set, which did not disappoint. She and her band immediately cast a spell on the crowd as their very noisy yet beautifully layered work echoed throughout Union Park. It’s always a breath of fresh air getting to explore and witness experimental artists at Pitchfork, and this year’s lineup delivered great variety.
– Andrew Lagunas
Kaina @ Red Stage
Chicago’s very own Kaina made her Pitchfork debut a special one. Drawing inspiration from her Venezuelan and Guatemalan heritage, Kaina put on the most warm and heartfelt set over the weekend. She expressed great gratitude for performing at the festival in her hometown alongside her best friends (her band). Seeing her passion while performing made for one of Pitchfork’s more radiant sets.
– Andrew Lagunas
Injury Reserve @ Green Stage
I’ve been a long-time fan of Injury Reserve and was lucky enough to catch them twice pre-pandemic, both times reveling in the high-energy distorted punk-hop that made the trio a revelation in the 2010’s. This, however, was entirely different. Following the tragic passing of founding member Stepa J. Groggs at the heartbreaking age of only 32 in 2020, the band released their most emotional and affecting project yet, By The Time I Get To Phoenix. Ritchie With A T is still a commanding front-man and rapper, and Parker Corey remains one of the most inventive producers alive, but this record saw them undeniably (and understandably) shift focus to a sonic space that is at times almost laborious in its intensity. It only made sense for them to perform this album in its entirety, as playing party-inducing bangers like “All This Money” and “Oh Shit!” would seem almost inappropriate without Groggs. The last synth chords ringing out at the end of album closer “Bye Storm” brought a feeling of crushing finality to a set that, while as loud as any all festival, was centered around the uncomfortable feeling of lack. Injury Reserve’s live shows have always carried a lot of weight, however instead of throwing that weight around in a mosh pit, this time the audience just had to sit with it. After mentioning that they had time for one more, they quickly roared into “Jailbreak The Tesla,” the neutron bomb of a lead single from their 2019 self-titled record, and all the tension of their set was released as the mass of festival-goers head banged their way to the next stage.
– Aviv Hart
Noname @ Green Stage
“This my lil’ Chicago classic ya’ll!” Noname exclaimed before performing “Diddy Bop,” one of the most beloved tracks from her landmark debut record Telefone. Noname performed with a full band (keys, bass, drums, guitar) who brought her delicate and comforting sound to glorious life. While each band member was given their own unique time to shine (and all performed excellently) additional props must be given to drummer Luke Titus for an absolutely blistering solo that elicited cheers from the crowd for the duration of his percussive soliloquy. Standout selection from Room 25 such as “Ace,” “Self,” and “Blaxploitation,” (as well as recent single “Rainforest”), served to remind the crowd that Noname is not only one of the most talented rappers, but one of the most talented writers, in music today. That being said; the breezy, tender, and gorgeous numbers from Telefone were the highlight of the set because, well, how could they not be? It’s pretty close to a perfect album. This is not to diminish her later work, but rather to emphasize how incredible it is that she crafted such a unique and memorable sound and artistic identity on her first public attempt. “Forever” is uniquely uplifting in a way that is both joyous and melancholy, “Diddy Bop,” is synonymous with summer in Chicago, and “Reality Check” finds Noname at both her most catchy and most lyrically prodigious (“Opportunity knocking it’s finally time to answer/the doorbell was only broken cause auntie was fighting cancer/And cigarettes on my mantle keep calling me by my first name/Loving me when I’m lonely pretending they really know me”). While this was one of my favorite sets of the day, there was an ominous elephant in the crowd as three separate times the show had to be stopped so someone in the crowd could receive medical assistance. Noname of course did the responsible thing and waited until everyone was safe to continue, but it did cast an unfortunate and unintentional air of darkness over parts of the set. However, all that negativity was quickly washed away as she closed out her set with “Yesterday,” one of the most beautiful hip-hop songs ever written.
– Aviv Hart
Earl Sweatshirt @ Red Stage
I have been blessed to be able to witness Earl Sweatshirt grow up on stage first hand. It is genuinely inspiring to have seen the angry, combative teen who I watched perform at Metro in 2016 grow into the sage-like figure who paces the stage today. Though his music has gotten progressively more lowkey and mature as he’s grown, the one thing that remains consistent about Earl’s live performance through the years is his lackadaisical charisma and sardonic wit, as he once again provided easily the most chuckle-inducing crowd work of the day. This included telling the crowd “Ya’ll all going to jail!” after prompting them to repeat some of his more questionable lyrics from his MUCH younger days. While it is sad to see many beloved cuts from Doris and IDLSIDGO exit the setlist over time, bouncy bass-heavy tracks like “Lobby,” and “Titanic,” off Earl’s most recent album Sick! more than make-up for the lack of explosive energy that was more present in his older material. It was also an absolute treat to hear “E. Coli,” a deep cut that for a long time was just a YouTube leak that hungry fans fawned over before getting its official release on producer The Alchemist’s Bread EP. While Earl is without a doubt a great performer, it bears mentioning that his drawling, dusty, subterranean sound is antithetical to the festival environment (despite the fact that this is his third Pitchfork performance). He and DJ Black Noi$e both feel much more suited to a dark, packed room than a sprawling outdoor festival, especially with some of Earl’s more sky-filling cuts like “Burgundy,” and “Mantra,” seemingly retired from the live set. To be clear, none of this diminishes the massive talent on stage, and if you are a fan of hip-hop in any respect you would be doing yourself a disservice to not see Earl live, just try to see him in an actual venue if you can.
– Aviv Hart
Toro Y Moi @ Green Stage
Chaz Bear, better known as Toro Y Moi, was dressed to impress as he closed out the Red stage on Pitchfork’s final day. Chaz warmed up the crowd with a few songs off his instrumentation-heavy Mahal followed up by his classic hit “Ordinary Pleasure;” the bass bumping everyone’s organs even from the Blue stage. It was an all out groove party for Toro’s set; a perfect way to begin wrapping up the weekend. Toro has certainly taken a skewed direction in his sound which translated better than I anticipated live in a beautiful way.
– Andrew Lagunas
Cate Le Bon @ Blue Stage
I think Cate Le Bon maybe my favorite performer, full stop. Every time I see her live I’m just taken aback by how incredible her performances are. She is utterly hypnotizing, drawing you in with some incredible guitar work and songs that feel like a warm hug. Her set was a perfect synthesis of the artist she’s become, focusing on her latest two albums. And quite honestly, I was perfectly ok with that. It was a performance full of highlights early on with “Pompei” and the undeniable jam that is “Home to You” coming in towards the end. And of course “Daylight Matters” and its bittersweet mantra of “I love you, I love you, I love you, but you’re not here” rang out with all the beauty that song deserves.
– Julian Ramirez
The Roots @ Green Stage
I can’t think of a more fun way to finish off this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival than with the Roots. this legendary act really brought their A game, like they always do, and treated the crowd to one last party on the Union Park grounds. A mix of their own jams and a myriad of covers, The Roots set was a sure fire crowd pleaser. “Jungle Boogie” came in early to get the crowd grooving, aspects of Donald Byrd’s “Think Twice” sprinkled in before jumping on to Main Source’s Looking at the front door. It was an absolute treat to see and hear this group at the height of their musical powers just understand how to get the Pitchfork masses in the right mood. At one point Hannibal Buress, who’s been performing all over Chicago this weekend, joined The Roots for “1-3 Pocket”. A medley of incredible tracks framed by “You Got Me” proceeded “The Seed 2.0”, The Roots most identifiable and iconic song before capping off the night with a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up”. There was just so much to enjoy about this marvelous set.
– Julian Ramirez
All photos by Julian Ramirez and Andrew Lagunas