DEAFHEAVEN – Atmospheric Metal Shit
Photo by Robert Loerzel
My metal bro from my university days is a big fan of Deafheaven and their critically acclaimed album, Sunbather, and he’d been insisting I hit up a show of theirs whenever they were in town. Luckily for me, Pitchfork brought them through and it was truly an experience. I sat at an opposite stage watching as a 40+ foot moshpit began in the center of the audience. High energy, gorgeous layerings of guitar, and clean vocals added as an extra boost of caffeine for the marathon session I had ahead of me. I may not be a metal fan but Deafheaven changed my stance on the genre.
ISAIAH RASHAD – And So The Hip Hop Extravaganza Began
It was a big weekend for Top Dawg Entertainment with four of their artists in attendance of Pitchfork (SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad, and Kendrick Lamar) so “high energy” and tangible excitement doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Isaiah Rashad was kind to the audience by coming out on time (blesseth you) whereas ScHoolboy Q took his sweet time getting on green stage making him thirty minutes late for his set. The rap game life, I tell ya. Isaiah Rashad killed his performance, giving us chill vibes and even brought out cute ass SZA for a guest song and all was well with the world.
EARL SWEATSHIRT – The Most Charming Bloke Around
Earl Sweatshirt canceled a lot of tour dates. In fact, he originally canceled his appearance at Pitchfork, later retracted it, and made the effort to come out to Chi and are we glad he did. He’s charming as fuck and kept us highly entertained – he began his performance with a “song we all knew and wanted us to sing along” only to start playing “Don’t Stop Believin’” which we lost our shit over. I haven’t laughed that hard for a performer in quite a long time. He made ongoing jokes about a dude named Brett in the audience who refused to sing with him and it was the sweetest thing. Between him and SZA it’s safe to say we all crushed mad hard on this year’s acts.
JON HOPKINS – $#*@&$%*#@ AKA The Life Changer
If you haven’t already read how emotional I got at Jon Hopkins (tears were shed), well you should go and do that right now. Being an ardent lover of electronic music, it’s typically hard to find performers who do everything I want on stage, most of which involves reconstructing sounds in real time. Jon Hopkins takes this to a godly level by using multiple kaoss pads (I counted at least two), tearing apart beats and putting them back together in completely new ways. He takes the familiar and makes it unfamiliar without overwhelming the audience. He’s not just standing up there fiddling with knobs and being a knob, he’s actually making the electronic music live experience just that – an experience. He was my number one set of the entire festival (also in my life) and I will never be the same again. Also there is nothing sexier than when a man is wholly into his craft so there’s that too <drools>.
REAL ESTATE – California Beach Bumming Wonder Lads
Photo by Robert Loerzel
I was still on a soul-high after Jon Hopkins’ set so I stayed off to the side of the field to watch Real Estate perform from the other side of the grounds. They are the quintessential summer groove set, perfect for a festival and making me want meander the Pacific Coast Highway. It made it even better with all the weed smoke in the air, turning my general vicinity into a glorious haze.
MAJICAL CLOUDZ – That Band I Listened To While Eating Sub-Par Chicken Satay
My boy Joshie Dyer wanted to see Majical Cloudz so we snagged food and watched them from the far reaches of blue stage. They began the performance with acapella which was very confusing (I initially thought the equipment went out). Once the band setup got going it was a solid set and we enjoyed it overall.
DJ SPINN – The Emotional Final Send Off Of DJ Rashad And Mad Chicago Pride
With the passing of DJ Rashad earlier this year, seeing his partner DJ Spinn on the lineup was sure to be an emotional experience. Pitchfork knew its audience and where we were, so mad respect to the producers for this signup. There was a palatable stillness in the air, a complete reverie once Spinn got going with his frenetic set. With over 20 people on stage of the Treated crew, there were at least 5-6 people doing competitive footwork the entire set. A massive mosh pit at least 20 feet deep went down in front of the stage and a giant outpour of energy coming off stage. The raw yelling and excitement served as DJ Rashad’s farewell and there were few dry eyes on the field. We were all Chicago proud.
GRIMES – Best Friend Envy And Cuteness Galore
Grimes had been on my list of artists-I-needed-to-see-or-I-would-die for the last two years, so I refused to succumb to my growing exhaustion fueled delirium in order to catch her set. Thank god I fought through it. With the amount of stacked female acts at Pitchfork, I gave infinite head nods to the festival’s producer wizards for having her be the final XX act of the weekend. She commands a presence with quirky dancing, perpetual wind-swept hair, and that slight lisp that made us fall in love so long ago. Playing all the hits and new songs that she “hadn’t memorized the lyrics yet so it’s still a mess” with absolute finesse and mad energy, which kept us on our toes the rest of the night. I must have uttered the phrase “she’s so goddamn cute” at least thirty times in the span of ten minutes.
HUDSON MOHAWKE – The Finale I’d Been Reeling Over For The Past Two Years
I never forgave myself for skipping TNGHT’s performance at last year’s Pitchfork because I let myself be dragged to R.Kelly’s set. While he filled all of our 90’s feels, I was legitimately pissed for a year for not ditching my friends and thus skipped TNGHT, who’s been a supreme electronic dance favorite of mine. This year I refused to make the same mistake for Kendrick Lamar and made sure to get over to HudMo’s set before he left. It was a fucking riot. He’s an incredibly talented producer, DJ, and proprietor of loud music. He surrounded himself with speakers on stage for the entire set so that he, too, was as high energy as the few of us who remained to watch him perform. I noticed The Range standing to the side watching and then Grimes herself ran up on stage to catch the end of his performance, so I knew I made the right call. Hudson Mohawke finished up my epic Pitchfork weekend on the sweetest of highs which I still refuse to come down from.
So, yeah, Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 absolutely changed my life. It was a stacked lineup with killer sets from every artist which I’ve never seen happen at any festival. At least one artist royally screws up at every festival, and it was refreshing to see this not occur at Pitchfork. Also, the weather was unreal for July in Chicago thus making it that much better.
Pitchfork Music Festival was created by music critics for music critics. I must have counted around 500 press passes on festival grounds which made it even more special for us writers. It was well curated, thoughtful, and intimate which is rare to find in many of these famous festivals. I would easily go back every year because it was made for music junkies like you and I.