By Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Chicago
Pitchfork music festival, now in its eighth year, is produced by the people behind the indie-rock bastion Pitchfork Media—essentially, a music festival put on by people who frequent music festivals. Held in Union Park, a small patch of grass on Chicago’s north side, a few dozen carefully selected bands are spread out over three days on three stages. The collection of pop and indie pretty accurately encompasses the music website’s taste, while indie clothing retailers and a vinyl record tent represented its lifestyle.
The belle of this year’s ball was undoubtedly Sunday night headliner R. Kelly, but the Friday night set from Bjork was just as memorable—her bizarre headdress drew perplexed stares, but her atmospheric brand of Icelandic electropop fully enraptured the crowd. The set may have been cut short by an approaching thunderstorm, but with her massive, pulsing lightning chamber hanging above the stage and her dancers swaying to the rhythyms, it didn’t take much to imagine the diminutive artist had summoned the storm with her performance.
Earlier Friday, Sacramento hardcore antagonists Trash Talk berated the crowd when taking too long to follow their directions, Mac DeMarco led the crowd in a medley of familiar singalongs, and Joanna Newsom commanded an expansive stage alone with her harp.
Saturday started with a kick in the teeth in the form of a raucous set from Vancouver’s White Lung, who got a few bodies smashing against each other in the pit until the midday sun slowed them down. Parquet Courts’ Sean Yeaton followed a reading for Vol. 1 Brooklyn at the book fort with a head-bobbing rendition of “Master of My Craft” at the Blue stage. Veteran New York noise outfit Swans seemed to mint a gang of new fans, with their swelling opus drawing in new spectators throughout their set. Noisy Tampa post-punkers Merchandise graced the Blue stage with their 10-minute-plus symphony “Become What You Are,” likely introducing many in the crowd to their first noise experience.