Pitchfork Music Festival 2023: Day Two in Review

Ah yes, the unfortunate tradition of a random rain delays escalating into a full blown evacuation continued during this year's Pitchfork Music Festival. While the storm didn't truly make an appearance until Weyes Blood's set later in the evening, the mere threat of rain and lightning forced the festival to shut down for a few hour-long breaks. It knocked out sets from Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, Snail Mail, most of Vagabon, and Palm's set (which ended up rescheduled for the final day!), But fret not, what we were able to see and hear in the stop and go of it all was definitely worth it!

You can check out our day one review and photos here! Plus day three photo and reviews are here!

Usually I would make the case for putting a band like Deeper with their angular guitar driven songs on a set later in the day. However given the subsequent rain delays that ended up knocking out a couple acts and shorting another, I;m glad that the four piece of Shiraz Bhatti, Nic Gohl, Drew McBride and Kevin Fairbairn got the chance to play a full festival set. "This Heat", which was an apropos song choice for the weekend, started off day two with Nic Gohl's vocals laying it on thick: "You're crossing the line, you're crossing the line." Everyone including the band themselves seemed to be under the spell of incredible songs.
- Julian Ramirez

Black Belt Eagle Scout 
It came with great relief that the festival was back up and running from the lightning watch just in time for Black Belt Eagle Scout. Her grungy rock sound mixed with her reverbed vocals sounded even better in person. Katherine Paul put her soul into her performance, and it had fans intrigued. Paul is an impeccable guitar player and it was captivating watching her absolutely shred in between her singing. I am a huge new fan of the project and her new album The Land, The Water, The Sky has been playing on repeat.
- Andrew Lagunas

MJ Lenderman
I never know how MJ Lenderman's "Hangover Game" will land in front of a Chicago crowd. Given its alternate take (or maybe not) on Michael Jordan's flu game, it could either go over like gangbusters or be a dud. But by the time he and the rest of his fantastic band got to, finally, the constantly repeating line, "I love drinking too", the crowd was completely behind him. And it's no surprise, Lenderman is just so damn good, crafting their chilled out garage rocky songs about everyday life that don't ever let themselves overstay their welcome. Take my personal favorite song of his "TLC Cagematch", a song that's as much about wrestling as it is about getting older and reminiscing about more youthful days. The track floated over the cloudy day with the perfect amount of melancholy to still be able to sway along to.
- Julian Ramirez

During the evacuation, a good amount of festival goers found themselves a block north at Cobra Lounge where their own two-day fest The Rumble was taking place. Wrapping around the Ashland side fence and down the alley, the displaced P4K attendees were thankfully not shooed away as bands like Fugitive, Raw Brigade, and Dead Heat raged on. Everyone made do with what little space was available on the sidewalk, peeking over the fence to catch a glimpse of the bands while others jumped into the mosh pit going on in the alley. Give a Pitchfork crowd lemons and they smash them to smithereens at Cobra Lounge/All Rise Brewing.
- Julian Ramirez

King Krule
While the miserable weather may not have typically been ideal for a summer festival, it was perfect for King Krule. The smell of fresh post-"storm rain" permeating the festival grounds matched perfectly with the murky melodies and twitchy ambiance that Archie Marshall has become known for. The dark, dread-laden clouds that filled the overcast sky acted as a perfect visual backdrop for “Perfecto Miserable,” “Alone, Omen 3,” and “Cellular,” an intentionally and mesmerizingly dreary opening trio of tracks from 2020’s Man Alive! Album. This introduction was followed by “Dum Surfer,” one of the more bounce-friendly tracks in Krule’s discography, before the band began wading through a significant chunk of the material off Space Heavy, Marshall’s most recent (and most post-punk-inspired) work. While King Krule’s work has progressed over time and remained consistently interesting, his 2013 debut full-length 6 Feet Beneath The Moon remains the songwriter’s most essential work, and it was disappointing to only hear two tracks from the project throughout the set (“Easy Easy,” and the excellent closer “Out Getting Ribs”). The lack of iconic early tracks in his discography like “Neptune Estate,” and “Baby Blue,” was understandable, but still disappointing.

Speaking of disappointing, while the outdoor environment was visually perfect for King Krule, the same unfortunately cannot be said for the complete auditory experience. This is no fault of the performers; Marshall’s rough, hyperbolically tortured vocals were as captivating as ever and the band played very well; it’s simply very difficult to make nocturnal, morose indie pop translate to the open-air festival stage. The low-end drone of the saxophone was not as bone-rattling as it normally would be, and many of the noisier jam-out sections at the conclusions of songs were swallowed up by the thick air, rather than bouncing from wall to wall as they would in a venue. Similar to Earl Sweatshirt last year, King Krule had a very good performance that is robbed of some of its magic by the location, and would have been even better in a place with walls and a ceiling.
- Aviv Hart

Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul
There is something deeply humanizing about dancing in the pouring rain. The feelings I felt as I thrashed my uninhibited body around to the funky, left-field club music of Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul is probably similar to the feelings religious people get in their place of worship. Performing Topical Dancer, their phenomenal 2022 collaborative record, in its entirety; Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul acted as maestros of movement, masters of the craft of getting a crowd off their butts and making them shake it. Adigéry was a wonderful master of ceremonies, adding interesting vocalizations and compelling lyrics to Pupul’s driving, drum machine sequenced beats and funky bass guitar playing. The unabetted onslaught of pure fun this duo brought to the stage was not only unique, but legitimately thought provoking. The untrue stereotype that club and dance music is vapid or unpolitical had no room to breath, as Adigéry’s lyrics stabbed at several issues regarding gender, race, the state of the music industry, and the act of performance itself (on the excellent tongue in cheek closing track “Thank You”). The most impactful of these tracks was “It Hit Me,” in which Adigéry recounts the first time she was catcalled. Putting such an uncomfortable anecdote over such an infectious beat encourages dance as empathy, therapy, and catharsis. And that’s what the set was, an open forum for self-validation through dance. Get sweaty, get drenched, get free. This is set was what festivals should be all about.
- Aviv Hart

Weyes Blood
Band dressed in dark formal clothing, decorative stage candelabra blowing in the wind, the stage was set for art-pop wunderkind Weyes Blood (Natalie Mering), who finally broke into the mainstream after almost a decade of excellent material with 2019’s singularly tender Titanic Rising. Weyes Blood glided on stage in a sleek and gorgeous white caped dress, appearing every bit the ethereal being her music would suggest she is. The opening duo of tracks, both from 2022’s And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow, adequately warmed the crowd up before sweeping us away with the space-rock inspired “Andromeda,” one of Weyes Blood’s most beloved (and appropriately so) tracks. This was followed by “Seven Words,” an unexpected and welcome deep cut from 2016’s Front Row Seat to Earth. While Titanic Rising tracks like “Everyday,” and “Something To Believe,” were very good and got people moving, the highlight of the set came as the rain started falling during “God Turn Me Into A Flower,” a cut from Mering’s most recent record, which stands as one of the most climactic, cinematic, and euphoric songs of her career. The sparkling synths danced in the wind as her soaring vocals filled the sky with transcendental beauty. Unlike the (appealingly) despondent dirge of King Krule, Weyes Blood’s soaring melodies were aided by the outdoor environment, as if the wind itself was imbued in her vocal chords. Mering’s enchanting set ended with the sublimely heartbreaking “Movies.” The entire crowd raised their arms as if to wash their hands in the same rain that conveniently disguised the many tears being shed.
- Aviv Hart

All Photos by Julian Ramirez and Andrew Lagunas

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