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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!

Lillie West of Lala Lala

Lillie West of Lala Lala

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 with the Lane Tech marching band

Ric Wilson with the Lane Tech marching band

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.


Jay Som performing at the Blue Stage

Jay Som performing at the Blue Stage

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.



Austin Brown of Parquet Courts

Austin Brown of Parquet Courts

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.

The Isley Brothers closing out the second night of Pitchfork

The Isley Brothers closing out the second night of Pitchfork

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

Stay tuned for more Pitchfork Festival coverage

LIVE: Red Bull Sound Select's 30 Days in Chicago Celebrates the Halfway Mark with Parquet Courts and Built to Spill

Red Bull Sound Select celebrated the halfway mark of their 30 Days in Chicago this past Wednesday night with co-headlining sets by Parquet Courts and Built To Spill. Goodwill Smith and Meatwave opened the night.


As Chicago concert goers filed into the legendary dive in Ukrainian Village to see Built to Spill and Parquet Courts, the first 50 attendees were handed a token to receive a free copy of The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing, just one of the perks of these Red Bull sponsored shows happening across the city this month. Upon entering, everyone also had the option to pick up some Red Bull Sound Select swag, including ear plugs.

The stage was set following Goodwills Smith's set, the clock struck 9PM, and Chicago’s own Meat Wave took the humble stage. Immediately the trio cranked up the volume to 100 percent, projecting out their energy with maximum noise, making those who took the earplugs grateful for their decision. At the beginning of Meat Wave's set, the venue hadn’t reached full capacity, but from the get-go, the crowd vibed with the fast-paced punk music, nodding their head in time and getting engulfed in the music. The three piece also vibed off of one another onstage, reciprocating the energy radiating through the crowd. The setlist included a fair mix of Meat Wave’s 2017 album The Incessant, like the title track and “Run You Out,” as well as the 2015 album Delusion Moon. By the end of the exuberant set, the crowd had completely packed into the intimate venue to watch the remaining two sets.

Built to Spill hit the stage next, immediately captivating the crowd with their intricately layered indie rock tunes that span multiple decades. Frontman Doug Martsch and his bandmates remained in sync with one another throughout their entire show, displaying such noticeable chemistry from their years of experience making music. During their hour long set, fans' eyes remained glued to the stage, watching as Martsch would manipulate and bend the tone and mood of their songs through the dials and pedals he had set up next to him on stage. This factor of Built to Spill's live show made us feel like we got a glimpse of the art in the making, like seeing a sculptor work in front of you or getting a look at the inside of a clock to see all the moving parts working together. Live, Built to Spill only builds upon their own songs, creating cinematic and sweeping jams that hypnotize the entire room. The fact that the group were a last minute addition to the original line up for Day 15 made the show so much more special. 

Next up, Parquet Courts took the stage to close out the special evening, performing a mix of songs from their handful of albums, but the set started strong with tracks taken from 2016's Human Performance. Crowd favorites stood out as the aforementioned album's title track and "Dust," which both topped the setlist, instantly reeling in the audience. Besides playing a solid and diverse set list, the four piece from New York also mixed humor into their headlining set, quipping at each other or telling funny anecdotes between songs. Early on in the night, A. Savage pointed out the negative side effects of Red Bull, thanking them for sponsoring the show, but encouraging the audience not to drink it. The group also recalled that their first ever show in Chicago had been at The Empty Bottle about five years prior, which added a bit of nostalgia into the evening. Every show booked in celebration of Empty Bottle's 25th anniversary has had a special piece of history embedded into it, and this show was no exception. 

As Parquet Courts set began to wind down, Red Bull also provided the crowd with complimentary pizza slices, supplying the concert goers with a perfect midnight snack. To experience the eclectic mix of music that Red Bull Sound Select has to offer for the remainder of the month, head here. You can also check out Empty Bottle's upcoming performances here. 

Gallery of Meat Wave, Built to Spill, and Parquet Courts, 11.15.17