Pitchfork 2019 Recap: Saturday, July 20th
The second day of Pitchfork Festival started off with the same sweltering heat as day one, but a fair amount of festival goers showed up as gates opened to take in the full day of music. The forecast showed continuous sunny skies all day to accompany the heat, but the fest ended up being suddenly evacuated around 5PM by a storm that came out of nowhere. The festival organizers were able to make the call just before torrential downpour hit the park, and most attendees were able to seek shelter in nearby bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, Kurt Vile and Freddie Gibbs sets were cut during the storm, but the festival did reopen after an about an hour of downtime, continuing the night with good weather. Despite the evacuation, day two still proved to be a great day with plenty of highlights. Read about my favorite Saturday moments below!
Lala Lala, the project of songwriter and musician Lillie West, opened the second day of the festival with the same all-star band roster that had performed the night prior at Metro, which included V.V. Lightbody, KAINA, Sen Morimoto and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya playing alongside West. Despite having the first set of the day, the heat, and the fact that they were coming off playing a late show the night prior, the entire band sounded as flawless and refreshed as ever. The early day crowd listened intently, even during some of the quieter moments of the set, like the performance of “Scary Movie." Lala Lala’s set also included a cover of “Slip Away” by Perfume Genius, who has also previously performed at Pitchfork Festival. Lala Lala has continuously been one of my favorite bands to see play around the city, but this set was my favorite from them to date.
Ric Wilson kicked off the Red Stage for the second day, and his set was hands down my favorite of the day, if not the entire festival. Wilson’s set had literally everything you could want from a festival show; an interactive dance party, guest appearances, and a positive message. The Chicago based artist immediately let the crowd know that he doesn’t tolerate any hate by starting his set with a call and response chant where to told the crowd “no racist, no sexist, no homophobic, and no bullshit” behavior would be tolerated here. The positive vibes continued as Wilson danced across the stage with a beaming smile. A few songs into the set, the first guest appearance came from collaborator and Pitchfork Festival alum, Kweku Collins, who played the festival last year. The energetic performance also featured an appearance from the Lane Tech marching band. And finally, Wilson closed out his set with everyone in the crowd participating in a Soul Train style dance off, which left everyone walking away with a smile on their face to enjoy the rest of the festival.
After taking a break to cool down, I moved over to the shaded Blue Stage to catch an afternoon set from Los Angele’s Jay Som. The singer’s dream pop tunes provided the perfect mid-day, chilled out set for festival goers, acting as a retreat from the chaos of the festival and the blistering heat. Jay Som and her band played through trusted favorites like “Baybee” and “The Bus Song” as the audience echoed the words back to the singer. The festival set also included a couple of new ones from the upcoming album Anak Ko, out later this summer via Polyvinyl Records.
Parquet Courts played next on the Green Stage, and they brought tons of energy along with them. It took mere seconds into the band’s first song of the set for the crowd to get amped up and start moshing, even with everyone being drenched in harsh sunlight. Starting at 4:15pm, Parquet Courts’ set took place during the day’s sweet spot, when more and more people decided to start showing up. The band’s uptempo rock tunes like “Master of My Craft” and “Total Football” were perfect for setting up the tone of the evening ahead. Unfortunately about 15 minutes before Parquet Courts’ set was slated to end, they made an announcement to the crowd that weather conditions might cut them short. After playing the title track of their 2018 album Wide Awake, festival goers were asked to calmly evacuate the site and find shelter. While it might have been cut short, the part of Parquet Courts’ set that we did get to experience was definitely a highlight of Saturday.
Following the evacuation of the festival and the downpour of rain, the park opened back up around 6:30PM for sets from Stereolab and Belle & Sebastian. As both of these bands played their sets, the sun once again shone down on Union Park and all was right— almost giving the feeling that it was a completely different day.
Before long, the sun began to set on Saturday, and it was then time for the legendary Isley Brothers to close out the night. Their spot on the festival lineup seemed a little out of place between more contemporary pop acts HAIM and Robyn, who bookended the weekend as the other headliners. However, when the brothers and their live ensemble made their way onto the stage to “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince playing as their introduction song, it was clear that we were all in for a show. As the band began their set of throwbacks, even the younger audience members who might have been unfamiliar with the group’s music could recognize bits of the songs that have been sampled by other artists. The Isley Brothers instantly had the audience moving along to their soulful music, and onstage, they had extravagantly dressed backup singers and dancers to accompany them.
More photos of Saturday featuring Lala Lala, Ric Wilson, Jay Som, Parquet Courts, Stereolab, Belle and Sebastian, and the Isley Brothers
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