I had the pleasure of attending Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park on Friday of the 3-day festival. It was an extremely hot and sticky day, filled with good tunes and great people. I cannot recommend the festival enough and I’m looking forward to next year’s line-up!
3:20 Ryley Walker
3:30 Natalie Prass
4:15 Jessica Pratt
5:15 Steve Gunn
5:30 Mac DeMarco
6:15 Tobias Jesso Jr.
6:25 Panda Bear
I live only about 40 minutes outside of Chicago, but there was awful traffic and we were running a bit behind. We found ourself stuck on the LCD (thanks a lot, Siri), and we didn’t get into the city until Ryley Walker was already starting his set. After a few stops and transfering from the Brown Line to the Pink Line, we finally found ourself outside of the festival, where ILoveMakonnen could be heard playing on the Green Stage inside. I, being accompanied by my WIUX fanny pack, ended up running into an Union Board alum which only began the beginning of cameo apperances from WIUX alum and members alike. By the time we went through the line and bag check, it was almost time for Mac DeMarco‘s set, which I was the most excited for. We quickly made our way over to the red stage, but found that many people were already there. I, being 5’6, found that our spots were unacceptable, so I began to politely worm my way through the sweaty swarms of bodies. Eventually, I gave up because I could feel the growing annoyance from the festival-goers, and I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes: metaphorically speaking and quite literally. We ended up making friends with a few lovely Australians that were standing in our newly claimed spots, and they were quite adamant about getting a better view so we slowly followed them and made our way closer and closer.
Mac, who headlined Culture Shock last year, began his set with the title tune from Salad Days and continued with many crowd favorites such as “Freaking out the Neighborhood” and “Cooking Up Something Good” from 2 and even a Steely Dan cover. He advised us that his new album Another One, out Aug. 7 via Capture Tracks, had been leaked and told us to go ahead and download it because quite frankly he doesn’t give a “damn.” Mac continued his 40-minute set with songs such as “Ode to Viceroy” and “Chamber of Reflections”, looping the intro to the approval of the dancing mass of fans. We even had a Viceroy hat that we flailed to no avail in hopes that Mac might spot it.
Mac continued his show and asked the fans to sing “Happy Birthday” to his girlfriend, Kiera. He claimed that he “has had his fair share of women, and Kiera has not had the same. But it’s her birthday and I [he] loves her very dearly, so god bless her, come on people.” The crowd began to roar before Mac went into the second verse of “Still Together.” The entire show was filled with witty banter from Mac’s bandmates and even a PSA about how bullying is bad. It felt like we were in the Pitchfork’s Pepperoni Playboy documentary.
Mac closed out his show to “Still Together”, where he stage dove into the mass of sweaty, smelling, hat-weilding fans. To our surprise, he dove off of stage left and stayed up for a few minutes until he eventually made it to the right side of the stage, while his band continued to play. I was in disbelief that Mac would ever make it to us, but eventually we saw a body being passed around above everyone’s head. He even grabbed a paper fan from a fellow fan and was cooling himself off as he rode the crowd like a wave. I ended up being shoved and accidentally touched Mac, so that was a pleasant end to the show.
After Mac’s set, we decided to head on over to Panda Bear’s show at the Green Stage. He exploded into “Untying the Knot” and eventually made his way into “Crossroads” off of Panda Bear meets the Grim Reaper. He ended out his show with another off of PBMGR, “Acid Wash.” Accompany him on the stage he had some grutesque images that sent chills down your side, that seemed to remind me of the Samsara documentary. Overall, the crowd was very tame and intentive to Panda Bear’s set.
The heat had finally got to us; we decided to lay down a blanket and pop a squat until WIlco’s set at the Green Stage. Many people had a similar idea and we made friends with a few of the people sitting around us while watching Chvrches perform on the big screen.
As night approached it seemed to cooled off somewhat but we were all too parched to make our way to any of the other stages. We felt that it was best to just enjoy the atmosphere and wait for the festival’s headliners.
But once Wilco came to the stage, the crowd seemed to find some energy and jumped up to the sound of the acoustic guitar, As the sky grew darker and the street lights came on, Wilco proved to be the best way to relax the thousands of people scattered around Union Park. They weren’t people crowd surfing, no moshing, just people relaxing: some sitting, some standing, some dancing. Of course, Wilco played “Via Chicago” to the pleasure to the hard-core Chicagoans. And I learned a solid lesson that no matter who you are, you like a little Wilco.
Through and through, Pitchfork Friday was an amazing experience and I wish that I could have gone all three days, but I can assure you that I will have a three day pass for the 11th anniversary of Pitchfork Music Festival. I even scored a free White Reaper mixtape from Polyvinyl, a super rad hat I found in the mud, and a Mac DeMarco t-shirt. See you next year, Pitchfork! 8/7 would recommend.