|Get your tickets early for Pitchfork 2018. No lineup has been announced, but $150.00 for a three-day pass is a steal to any music festival, let alone one with such a diverse lineup.|
Day three of the Pitchfork Music Festival started out a bit chilly as the Windy City was living up to its nickname, but we soon got our sweaty groove on thanks to a great set by Chicago house music legend and pioneer Derrick Carter.
For those of you who weren’t dancing during his set, please see a doctor because something is wrong with you. He put on a house music clinic. It was a great way to start the day.
We also heard a bit of Colin Stetson‘s set. He plays this wild, droning, hypnotizing saxophone music that is difficult to describe but quite mesmerizing. We had plenty of time before Ride‘s set, so we met up with my college pal and his husband again before heading off to do a little shopping and eating.
Ride put on a good set of shoegaze that was a great switch from all the hip hop, electro, and funk we heard during the festival. Unfortunately, they had a shortened set due to some early technical difficulties, but they played new and old material and blasted all of us with the final song of their set. It was a loud, distorted, fuzzed-out assault. “I needed that,” said one man next to me by the time they were done.
Ride did a signing at the record fair afterwards, and I scored a signed copy of their newest album, Weather Diaries (review coming soon). They were happy to meet everybody, and I’m happy to report they had a long line of fans there.
Mandy caught Jamilla Woods‘ set, which she enjoyed very much, after she’d been moved from the Blue Stage to the Green Stage due to the Avalanches cancelling their performance. According to their Twitter feed, a family member one of the band members had some sort of dire medical emergency. My college pal came to the festival mainly to see them, so he was more than annoyed they weren’t playing. He and his husband learned via a Google search that the Avalanches are about as finicky as Morrissey when it comes to performing.
Thankfully, Nicolas Jaar put on an excellent set of his experimental electro / trance music that was both psychedelic and dance-inspiring at the same time. At about the halfway point of his set, a guy in front of me turned to his friends and said, “This is the best set I’ve seen all weekend.” and then left.
We split after that, beating the crowds and stopping to meet artist Jay Ryan so we could get one of his posters. He does really neat and cute art for a lot of bands and other projects. We already had a Bob Mould tour poster of his hanging in our living room, and now Mandy has a “It’s Time to Read” poster that will go in her office featuring bears, cats, and a wooly mammoth reading books.
I walked out with a new pair of sunglasses and CD’s by Screaming Females, Vacation, Waxahatchee, Tycho, Priests, Slowdive, She-Devils, Ride, and Wavves, and even a cassette by a band called Diagonal. I’ll have reviews of all this stuff in the coming months.
All in all, the Pitchfork Music Festival was a good time. We’d go back if the lineup was good and we could stay close to the festival. As it’s been for the last few festivals I’ve attended, VIP tickets don’t look worth the money. It’s not as laid back as a Levitation festival, but still fun. It also could’ve used a little more rock, in my opinion, but it was worth the trip.
Keep your mind open.
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We were happy to learn that the folks at Pitchfork Music Festival decided to open a second entrance on the east side of Union Park. This saved us from having to walk around the park to get into the lone entrance (unless you were a VIP), and saved probably thousands of people from waiting in another long line at the start of the day.
The new entrance, located at Ogden and Washington, sent us straight into the poster and print exhibition.
We immediately noticed it was far busier than the previous day. The weather was better, too. It was sunny and just a tad humid, whereas it had been mostly cloudy on Day One. The new entrance also put us near the craft and record fairs.
I’m curious to see how much prices drop on Day Three, as I’m sure all of the vendors would like to pack up as little as possible.
As for the music, we started off the day with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. We managed to find a college housemate of mine in the crowd. I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years, and it was fun to jam with him, his husband, and Mandy while Mr. Clinton and crew went nuts. I was surprised when they ended their set with some trap music. I expected more funk. As my friend said, “They need to have about fifteen more people on stage.” The group did include a foxy lady whose job was to stand next to the drummer and look sexy. She succeeded on all counts.
We had plenty of time until the next set we wanted to see, so we headed to the food vendors for drinks and snacks. The festival organizers made another smart decision by not checking I.D.’s at the entrance gates (like they’d done on Day One, creating an even longer wait time to get into the park), but instead checking them by the tents where you bought drink tickets. One extremely dry cider and two teriyaki chicken buns later, we were off to see Madlib.
Madlib gave a master’s course in mixing and spinning. He played a lot of tracks features different rappers he’s collaborated with in the past such as J Dilla and MF DOOM. I geeked out when part of his visual display showed clips of the psychedelic movie Phase IV.
I caught part of S U R V I V E‘s set, which was a neat blend of dark wave and film score music. I saw more than a few kids at their set and figured they were probably jazzed to see the guys who made the Stranger Things score. One man was tripping hard during their set and dancing like he was having a religious experience. More power to him.
We couldn’t get even halfway to the stage for A Tribe Called Quest. The crowd for them was massive, and having P.J. Harvey on a nearby stage before their set only added to the number of people on the main lawn of the park.
Nevertheless, we had a blast during ATCQ’s set. They ripped through classic and new tracks, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad is still one of the best DJs in the business.
The crowd around us was a bit low key, for reasons unknown to us. One woman was wandering around asking random strangers if they had any weed to share. A drunk man danced with Mandy and mumbled nonsense before learning I was with her and then freaking out a bit when he saw me. I patted him on the shoulder and told him not to worry.
One of the best, and most bittersweet, parts of ATCQ’s set was the unmanned microphone on stage for Phife Dawg, who died last year from diabetes. They still played his vocals, and even an a cappella version of one track that had the stage dark and only Phife’s vocals carrying across the lawn. The band was big on “Dis Generation” and “Award Tour,” which they restarted twice.
It was a fun way to end the day, but getting out was another story. Pitchfork has VIP entrances and exits, but they don’t open these exits to everyone at the end of the day. As a result, hundreds (at least) of us who figured we could get out through the east VIP exit were sent back through the record fair tents to the entrance and exit gate for the plebeians. This gate still had a folding chair, a box, and some cattle gates across it that should’ve been moved before thousands of people started to leave.
Keep your mind open.
I must admit that the Pitchfork Music Festival crams a lot of stuff into a small park. I’m used to larger spaces like Levitation Austin, but Pitchfork gets a lot of bang for its buck at Chicago’s Union Park.
Speaking of cramming, the lines to get in were long, but moved well when my wife and I got to the festival close to 2:00. By the end of the day, we were hearing stories of the line to get in wrapping around the block and going the whole length of the park. One friend posted on Facebook that it was almost as bad as getting into the massive Star Wars Celebration convention.
Once inside, I was surprised to see how close two of the stages are to each other. The Red and Green Stages are almost a stone’s throw apart. Mandy and I wondered how noisy it was going to be with the bands playing on each stage, but the Pitchfork programmers wisely schedule the bands so that none are playing on the Red and Green stages at the same time.
They played a set that proved post-punk is alive and well and had a fun time. I later picked up their first record at a record fair located on the park’s tennis courts. We had plenty of time to wander after their set and that’s when we discovered not only the record fair, but also a print and poster fair, a book fair, a craft fair, and plenty of food vendors. I walked out of the record fair with not only that CD by Priest, but also CD’s by Waxahatchee, Screaming Females, and Vacation. I might go back for a Chicago Cubs World Series Champions poster and a cute one of animals reading books.
We wandered to the Red Stage to catch the Thurston Moore Group, who put down a loud punk / noise rock set with hammering guitar solos and thunderous bass. Moore told a funny story about Henry Rollins’ too during the set, so that was a treat.
We went straight back to the Green Stage to catch Danny Brown, who came out to Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” He quickly got the crowd jumping with his crazy rhymes and booming beats. Water and water bottles were flying in every direction from a mosh pit that broke out in front of the stage. There was a lot of call and response stuff between Brown and the crowd, who I’m happy to say looked sharp and healthy (check out his lyrics if you’re wondering why I was concerned).
We stayed in our spot for about an hour to wait for LCD Soundsystem, who got a big cheer just from raising the biggest mirror ball I’ve ever seen above their set.
The crowd kept building as their 8:10 start time grew closer. It was so packed at one point that I had difficulty raising my arms to get this photo.
LCD Soundsystem started their set ten minutes early, bringing seemingly enough people for an Earth, Wind, and Fire tribute band with them. They burst out of the gate hard and fast, and the crowd seemed to release energy it had been storing all day. Their big hit “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” was the second song of the set, so they didn’t waste time.
A mosh pit broke out next to us at one point, and this aging punk rocker had to get into it and show these young hipsters how its done. Other highlights included “Trials and Tribulations,” a lovely and loud version of “New York I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down,” and “You Wanted a Hit.”
I warned Mandy as they started “Dance Yrself Clean.” “This whole place is going to go ape shit,” I said. She had no idea what I meant and thought the entire crowd was going to break into a mosh pit. She was pleasantly surprised when instead we all pogoed when the song kicks into full gear. It’s as great as you can imagine.
They closed with a wild rendition of “All My Friends.” It was well worth the waits (the hour before their set, and a few years since they called it quits) to see them. I had been bummed that I missed them when they were first on the scene, so their set at Pitchfork was my main reason for buying weekend passes. They didn’t disappoint, and lead singer James Murphy performed with a bad back and keyboardist Nancy Wong with a bum knee – although neither showed much signs of impairment (Murphy stretched at one point, and Wong would sometimes take his arm to walk from one spot on stage to another).
Getting out of the festival was a big harder than getting in since the main entrance and exit isn’t huge. We plan to look for a VIP exit tonight. On the way out, a young man behind said to his friends, “Mosh pits were fun when I was a sophomore three years ago. Now, I’m not so sure.” The old punk rocker in me wanted to give him a backwards elbow shot to the face and say, “I’m getting into pits at twice your age!”
On the list today is George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Madlib, P.J. Harvey, S U R V I V E, and A Tribe Called Quest. We also plan to meet up with some old friends we haven’t seen in a while (one in decades), so it should be a good time.
Keep your mind open.
Influential British shoegaze band Ride broke up in 1996 after just six years and a couple albums, but they got back together in 2015 and have a new album, Weather Diaries, out this year. Ride’s performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival on July 16th will be one of the highlights of the weekend, as not many expected a Ride reunion, let alone a new album or tour. They sound like they haven’t lost anything after 20 years, so don’t miss their set if you’ll be in Chicago that weekend.
Keep your mind open.
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Chilean DJ, producer, and music engineer Nicolas Jaar will be spinning a set at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival on July 16th. I wanted to see Mr. Jaar last year at Levitation Austin, but that festival was cancelled due to bad weather and I couldn’t score a ticket to his make-up gig in downtown Austin. Nicolas Jaar is known for his great beats and DJ skills, sure, but he’s venturing more into experimental music and has been known to throw down five-hour improvisational sets. I doubt his Pitchfork set will be that long, but finally catching him live will be a highlight of the festival for me.
Keep your mind open.
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Aussie electro weirdos the Avalanches will be performing what I’m sure will be a fun set at the Pitchfork Music Festival on July 16th. Known for their fun, quirky blend of house, big beat, and odd samples, they’re already electro powerhouses after releasing just two albums – Since I Left You and Wildflower. Those albums were sixteen years apart, by the way, and both are considered high watermarks in their genre. Since I Left You is widely thought of as one of the greatest Australian albums of all time and the best album of the year 2000.
It will be a fun, rare set from them. A friend of mine finalized his decision to attend Pitchfork after learning the Avalanches were playing there. Don’t miss them.
Keep your mind open.
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Chicago house music legend Derrick Carter will be playing a set to a hometown crowd at the Pitchfork Music Festival July 16th. Mr. Carter has moved the genre of house back into popularity again and built a big following in Europe. He uses samples well and always has the sickest beats. I’m sure he’ll put a bit of extra mustard and relish on his set in front of a lot of fellow Chicagoans.
Keep your mind open.
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Chicago’s NE-HI formed to score a friend’s film and ended up becoming indie rock darlings. I’m guessing they took their name from the mostly forgotten brand of soda, but perhaps I’m wrong. I do know that their catchy psychedelic rock hooks are good and I’m confident a lot of their hometown fans will be at their Pitchfork Music Festival set on July 16th to cheer them.
Keep your mind open.
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Singer, songwriter, painter, visual artist, and textile designer Kilo Kish will be playing an early set on July 16 at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival. Ms. Kish has a neat vision of the world and witty lyrics that cut right to the heart of issues of gender, politics, art, race, and being a Millennial. She’s intriguing. That alone makes her set worth a look, as do her slick beats that blend trip hop with R&B.
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