Pitchfork Music Festival Review – Three Big Days of Music

The Pitchfork Music Festival sets itself apart from other festivals by not following the trends, but rather focusing on presenting music by the very best artists.  Not many fests would have both gothic seductress Zola Jesus on the same bill as legendary funk queen Chaka Khan.  But that’s just what Pitchfork aims to do.   With three days packed full of great artists, it is hard to compact that into a few moments.  But here is our attempt of the best moments with photos to back it up:

Chicago Hip Hop

The West Side’s Own Saba
Noname hosted a Chicago Hip Hop All-Star spectacle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The city of Chicago is always a co-star at Pitchfork Music Fest.  This year the city’s thriving hip-hop scene was omni-present.  Pitchfork’s lineup featured 13 (out of 42 total) Chicago acts, including seven from the city’s current hip-hop and R&B scene: Kweku Collins, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Noname, Open Mike Eagle, Ravyn Lenae, Saba and Smino.  The sets by Smino and Saba really shined, but the pinnacle was when those two joined Noname on stage for a Chicago Hip Hop All-Star spectacle.

Courtney Barnett Rocks

Courtney Barnett threw her hair around

The Australian singer/songwriter is a critical darling for her conversational lyrics and her blunt delivery.  Her folk-rock style really leveled-up live in concert.  Courtney Barnett thrashed with her guitar using the fuzz pedal liberally, threw her hair around, and in general rocked hard. The Pitchfork crowd looked giddy and overjoyed.  Watching Barnett onstage was like watching an explosive firework show.

Japandroids Brought the Garage-Rock 

Japandroids, put on a raw, no frills set

Not to be out done by Barnett, the rousing Canadian two-man band, Japandroids, put on a raw, no frills set that thrilled the crowd.  Playing on the smaller Blue Stage at Pitchfork gave their set the appropriate garage-like setting, but their sound blew everyone away.  With just Brian King on guitar and David Prowse on drums, Japandroids energy far exceeds other bands triple their size.  Their commanding anthems, like “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”, were full of power chords and hard drum beats that seemed like they were attacking the crowd…and the crowd loved every moment.

Tame Impala’s Colorful Atmosphere

The rain didn’t stop Tame Impala

Headlining Friday night, Tame Impala brought their spacy, guitar heavy psychedelic tunes to Union Park.  The imaginative stage presentation, with colorful art, lighting and even confetti, created a utopian feeling that even the rain couldn’t ruin.  Every song was a giant singalong and the crowd knew every word.  It was a feel-good set to end Day One.

The Return of Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill can do it all

The second Lauryn Hill started playing the crowd collectively thought, “this is why we’ve missed you!”  Seeing the multi-talented legend perform for the first time in Chicago in close to two decades will do that to you.  Right off the bat, the audience was reminded at what a talent Hill is.  She can do it all:  sing, rap, write, produce, act, and most importantly inspire.  She performed songs from her record-breaking album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.  Hill re-imagined some of the songs by using a big backing band with horns, singers, guitars, drummer and a DJ to make the songs a fresh as the day the album came out.  Seeing a legend come out of exile was the sweetest part of a weekend that won’t be soon forgotten.

Photos by K. Joseph Fotos.  Full Gallery Here

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