Last weekend, a couple of miles and a quick train ride west of downtown Chicago, Pitchfork held its seventh (or eighth, depending on who's counting) music festival in Union Park amid thunderstorms, occasional rain, and trademark heat and humidity. Refreshingly egalitarian, three color-coded stages played host to high level seminar covering the last few years of critically-acclaimed (in at least one important quarter) up-and-comers making it a particular delight for the sort of fans who look at giant festival lineups and find themselves salivating over the small print instead of the biggest boldfaced names. Though the park was filled with a sold out crowd—guessing about 20,000 well-behaved (and sensibly dressed!) attendees per day—the grounds never felt overfull, due in part to the mellow mood and need to conserve energy sitting under trees, browsing Flatstock, or shopping at the indie record market during the sunniest parts of the afternoon.
The most galvanizing and raucous hours of the festival had to be Saturday's back-to-back performances from Sleigh Bells and Hot Chip. While I find the former's sound to border too often on the sound of forks dropped in a garbage disposal, I can't deny the infectiousness of their onstage energy and the appeal of some of their bombastic hits. As for the latter, with LCD Soundsystem out of the picture, Hot Chip may be the biggest indie-electro-dance-pop outfit left in the business. In any case, after a rainy afternoon and the combination of those two bands on adjacent stages a substantial portion of the grounds had been danced into a vast muddy field. Other highlights included a Friday night sets from always epic Japandroids and intellectually intricate art rock from Dirty Projectors as well as a searing Sunday afternoon of various strains of guitar rock from Iceage, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, and the Men, gauzy evening jams from Beach House that lulled me into missing the Field, and pure pop perfection from Vampire Weekend who took a break from writing their third album to close out the weekend.
A bunch photos and republished tweets after the jump.
- For @japandroids I will suffer through a 15 sound check in the rain. (6:56 pm)
- Feel like the point of *Swing Lo Magellan* might be: "so, you thought our last album was 'weird' ..." (Friday 6:05 pm)
- Purity Ring
- Cults set starts with a sunbreak and a little light blasphemy. (Saturday, 3:52pm)
- In which we realize that Youth Lagoon is two dudes and not just a witchy woman with synths. (Saturday, 5:18pm)
- Yep. Sleigh Bells is still fun to watch even though they mostly sound like a garbage disposal. (Saturday, 6:43pm)
- Kid up against the barricade's so excited about Chromatics finally starting that he puked all over a photographer. (Saturday, 7:44 pm)
- Hot Chip: pitchfork's sexiest nerds teaching the indie kids in the muddy DMZ to dance again. (Saturday, 7:59pm)
- Come on you black emperor and play the goddamn hits. (Saturday, 8:54pm)
- Somehow no one told me that Grimes kept a straight up warlock and pair of stage dancers in her entourage? (Saturday, 9:19pm)
- Grimes Warlock
- Nothing makes teenage Danes more sullen than heat/humidity equipment troubles. (Iceage, Sunday, 2:39pm)
- Nice touch: Thee Oh Sees put up a wall of incense between themselves and the stinking mass of humanity/photogs. Also: bless [them] for being the first Blue stage band to say eff the soundcheck and start on time. (Sunday, 3:19pm)
- Ty Segall
- Morning forecast of sweaty with a chance if screamy guitar rock continues with a Ty Segall to the Men band browse. (The Men, Sunday, 4:40pm)
- Nine out of ten Pitchfork attendees agree that Beach House is better sunset music than the Field. (Sunday, 7:42pm)
- Embarrassing levels of affection for these seasoned pros. vampyweeks p4k andybaioshappyfeet (Vampire Weekend, 8:39pm)
- Pitchfork Kids
Even more pictures embedded in this Pitchfork flickr slideshow: