Pitchfork Music Festival Recap

By Brian McMahon and Sarah Thompson

Friday 7/17

Ungodly heat waves brought a tamer crowd to the opening day of Pitchfork, it didn’t stop thousands

from attending, but it didn’t make for the most lively dance parties in the world. Friday kicked off with

fantastic performances from Wilco, Chrvches, Panda Bear, Mac Demarco, Tobias Jesso Jr, and many


Best Show: Wilco

Wilco definitely stole the show Friday night, after an ungodly hot afternoon producing a few

unfortunate passed out festival goers, the Chicago band made an unforgettable home coming. Just

hours before their headlining Friday night set, the band released a surprise full length album named Star

Wars. Wilco dazzled fans by playing the debut of the album all the way through with minimal crowd

banter in between songs. Front man Jeff Tweedy then modestly stated “well, that was Star Wars”, then

the band hit their stride. The incredible improvisational breakdowns of “Impossible Germany”, “I am

Trying to Break Your Heart”, and “Heavy Metal Drummer” blew the crowd away, while the intense drum

solos during a slow “Via Chicago” stunned the senses. Wrapping up the night with “I’m the Man Who

Loves You” touched the heartstrings and brought a well-fitted closer to the first night of P4K ’15.

Runner Ups: Panda Bear and Mac Demarco

The only reason Panda Bear didn’t strike me as the best act of Friday was simply because of the timing.

Half of the show relies on the trance Panda Bear’s visualizer accompanied with an over bearing strobe

light put on audience members. A 6:25 PM while the sun still shined heavily down on the crowd didn’t

give off the full effect of a Panda Bear show, granted his vocal and sound was incredible throughout the

set, it wasn’t a typical Panda show. Especially considering he played an amazing kick-off show the night

before at Thalia Hall. For me, Mac Demarco set the stage for the weekend. The groovy vibes and

entertaining crowd banter set Pitchfork off on a great foot, but it wasn’t as incredible as the late night

Wilco show. Then again, that might be as if I was comparing apples to oranges because of the two

drastically different environments the shows took place in.

Weird Thing I saw: Security guards spearing individuals attempting to jump the festival fences. I bet

most of them felt the wrath of wanna be college football players who I assume never got into good

music or have daddy issues.

Best Vendor I saw: Firecakes Donuts. I got a Glazed Donut Cherry ice-cream sandwich. It was warm on

the outside and cold on the inside, sticky and delicious.

Saturday 7/18

The momentary cancellation of the Pitchfork early Saturday afternoon couldn’t keep the crowds away

for long, as many took shelter in the port-a-potties, made friends with vendors under tents, and

attempted to stay dry under the nearby L stop (frivolously might I add). Around 4:15 when those would

had followed directions and left Union Park were admitted back in the real party began. Pitchfork has a

no return policy, so tickets don’t scan more than once, so festival security had to permit basically

anyone into the festival, which made for some great mosh pits. The aftermath of shows like A$AP Ferg

appeared as if those closest to the stage had just spent a week in a trench the way they were covered in

mud. Regardless of weather, with a lineup consisting of Sleater-Kinney, Future Islands, Vic Mensa,

Shamir (who patrolled the fest grounds and was even front row for Mr. Twin Sister), The New

Pornographers, Kurt Vile and the Violators, and Parquet Courts it was difficult to keep fans away.

Best Show: Future Islands

Honestly, I cannot say I have witnessed a show where I believe any one band member or musician gave

as much energy or emotion as Samuel T. Herring put into their Saturday evening Pitchfork set. The

incredible dance/ hype moves Herring provided the crowd fueled a beautiful show. Imagine a young

Tiger Woods fist pumping after he won the US Open, and you may only get about one tenth of the

intensity Samuel T. Herring threw into some of his fist pumps, not to mention the points of his demonic

death metal snarls he threw his voice into while “singing” tracks. The ten song set took off after the

band played “A Dream of You and Me”. The followed up with two of their new tracks back to back, hit

emotional highs during a brief explanation of the song “Lighthouse”. When Future Islands broke down

into “Seasons” the crowd reciprocated one highest energy dance parties I felt all weekend. Ending with

“Spirit” sent the crowd on their way with rubbery legs, light hearts, and memory they won’t soon forget.

Runner Ups: Mr. Twin Sister & Vic Mensa

Mr. Twin Sister held down the 2:50 PM slot at the Blue Stage on Saturday afternoon and played just

until the massive downpour ensued. The at times down tempo electronic band killed the slot they were

given and embraced the rain, lead singer Andrea thanked the crowd for “getting wet with them”. The

rain didn’t seem to bother the early afternoon crowd much, I would even fashion to say the

precipitation empowered the crowd to dance even harder. Except unfortunately as soon as the show

ended all of the festival goers were notified Pitchfork would be closing in 20 minutes and then all hell

broke loose from the sky. The groovy five piece electronic band got the afternoon going, but after seeing

them just nights before at the Bishop, the outdoor festival set just couldn’t compare. Vic Mensa closed

out the Blue Stage on Saturday night with a wildly energetic set, which even put some fans partying up

into the nearby trees to get a better look. Vic held down the stage with grace and vivacity speeding it up

and slowing it down with ease. To my surprise Vic has an immensely talented voice which he displayed

on his rendition of Chance’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses”. Mensa also played a new track “No Chill” and ended

the set by mobbing with a near 20+ squad on stage for “U Mad”.

Weirdest thing I saw: A recycling bin went for a crowd surf during the A$AP Ferg set, eventually spilling

its contents all over fans. Hysterical, you literally cannot write stuff like that.

Shows I wish I would have seen: Vince Staples & Kurt Vile and The Violators

Sometimes it’s just not in the cards to see every show you would have wished to at a festival, be it your

friends, spots you want to get for another show, or just crappy timing. Vince Staples ended up being

stuck in another city and unable to make his slot due to travel delays, which is alright anyways because

he would have wound up being right during the momentary cancellation of the festival. As well, I would

have loved to see former War on Drugs member Kurt Vile, from what I have gathered he put on a

fantastic set.

Best Vendor I saw: The Ray-Ban tent let you screen print your own speak the truth shirt with a phrase of

your choice as part of their “#Campaign4Change” initiative for free. I made one that said “Snack as facts

for your brain”.

Best part of the mud puddles: After the torrential down pour that sent many festival goers scrambling

for cover as lightning streaked the sky there were quite a few mud puddles. There puddles congregated

together into massive sections of mud that few dared to walk through, let alone stand in. But for those

whose shoes were already soaked to the core and who were dedicated to the artists performing, these

puddles saved seats, opened up swaths of land allowing for more breathing room while rocking out.

Sunday 7/19

Sunday, debatably the best day for music, happened to also by far the best weather to attend the

festival in. Even though the sun beat down hot for the afternoon, shade could be found to enjoy shows

from slightly afar before getting close for desired acts. Individuals camped all day to see the

homecoming of rapper Chance the Rapper to close out the festival, while others hopped around seeing

the electro-dance power packed lineup. The live instrumented electronic music Todd Terje & The Olsens

and Caribou put all in ear shot into a dance frenzy, while the DJ stylings of Jaime xx sparked the sense of

revival of DJ’s who don’t set up a Mac and press play. Run the Jewels amazed the crowd with surprise

guests Zach de la Rocha and Gangsta Boo (which I was a fool and left early, but that’s beside the point).

Early afternoon performances by Madlib and Freddie Gibbs, Perfume Genius, Courtney Barnett, and Viet

Cong made Sunday arguably the best day of the festival.

Best Show: Todd Terje, Caribou, and Jamie XX

A three way tie wouldn’t usually wouldn’t constitute the best show, but it’s hard to differentiate

between who was better between these three acts. All three played amazing electronic music, but all

with different flavors and nuances. Jamie xx played earliest of the three and killed his one’s and two’s on

stage with a disco ball slowly rotating behind him. Opening with “SeeSaw”, hardly any of the tracks

following went note for note as one would hear them on his album In Colors, the former xx member

fused in and out of songs feeding off the crowd’s intensity. To a close listening fan a distinct introduction

sample of “Take Care” by Drake and Rihanna could be heard. Jamie spun one of his earliest singles “Far

Nearer” during the set and picked up and dusted off the “Good Times” vinyl to spin before launching

into “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”, sending the crowd into a full-fledged 70’s dance party.

Ending the set off with “Loud Places”, which he had sampled hints of throughout the show, left the

feeling Jamie xx’s name won’t be going away anytime soon. Up right after Jamie xx was Caribou on the

Green Stage, a finer example of why live instrumented electronic music might possibly be some of the

best live music out there. Caribou kicked off the set with an amazing “Our Love”, breaking it down and

jamming it out, into “Silver” and “Mars”. Individuals in the crowd front left of the sound stage couldn’t

help but groove when Dan Snaith and co-electronic pad drummer vibed off one another. The dueling

drum pads put the crowd into an absolute fever of flailing noodles for appendages (or maybe that was

just me). The middle of the set was filled with tracks off of prior albums, many of which the crowd may

have not known, but the dancing never ceased. Ending with “Can’t Do Without You” and “Sun” left the

crowd giving the four piece band a standing ovation. Ending off the Sunday dance movement, Todd

Terje brought more of a jazz aesthetic to the live instrumented electronic music. Opening with “Swing

Star, Part 1” the band immediately starting getting after it, the following set included some sweet, sweet

live sax and a plethora of other jazz-esque sample stylings. Finishing off with “Inspector Norse” where a

group of females and one bearded dude line danced on stage in white “robes” (for lack of better

understanding of fashion” adorned with Christmas light necklaces stunning the crowd.

Runner Up: Chance the Rapper

Perhaps many will be in disagreement with the call of not putting Chance as the best show of the day,

but not being up close into the crowd and having been first row in an Auditorium venue will do that for a

person. Don’t misinterpret, the production value of the show was incredible and the sound even better.

The live band was barely visible above the setup of the stage, but their sound could be felt all the way

back in the “nose bleeds” of the field. Donnie Trumpet’s horn dominated the stage during his solos,

while hits “Pusha Man”, “Juice”, “Cocoa Butter Kisses”, and “Favorite Song” had nearly every person the

in the audience singing all the words. Ending with “Sunday Candy”, Chance begged the crowd to make it

their show and thanked them for being with him since the beginning. The Chicago native also expressed

how this homecoming show was also the closing to a chapter in the story that is his career as an

entertainer, so who knows what will be in store from his music in the future