Pitchfork Festival’s final day rolled around on Sunday, featuring a lineup packed to the brim with some of my favorite artists to close out the fest. Throughout the weekend, the weather forecast for Sunday had gone back and forth— varying from raining all day to showing clear skies and temperatures in the 70s. When the morning rolled around, it looked like we might have gotten stuck with cooler temperatures and rain—especially when gates were postponed nearly an hour with rain and threats of lightning. However, after the morning and brief early afternoon storm, the gates opened and the rest of the day went smoothly and according to plan.
Sunday’s theme definitely revolved around the camaraderie in the Chicago music scene, with incredible sets from some local artists that featured multiple guest appearances. In addition to the Chicago music community, here are the rest of the day’s highlights.
London’s Black Midi played the Green Stage in the early afternoon, getting the energy ramped up for the day with their experimental hard rock. The festival site by the main stage had flooded with the early morning rain, but despite the puddles, fans watching Black Midi didn’t let some mud get in the way of their fun. The band’s high energy was matched by the crowd, who started a muddy mosh pit early on in the set.
Next up, Chicago’s Tasha made her much-deserved Pitchfork Festival debut over on the Blue Stage. Tasha’s 2018 album Alone at Last showcases her smooth and soulful indie pop, and her set at Pitchfork provided a tranquil escape for festival attendees. I’ve seen Tasha perform captivating solo sets several times throughout the last year, but her festival set was one of the first times I’ve seen her with a backing band. The addition of the band gave her intimate songs a layered and more full sound. Tasha also treated fans to some brand new, unreleased songs, which she performed solo.
One of the best things about music festivals is that you can go in with expectations of what bands you’re seeing and what time, but you’re always given the chance to see a band you’ve never seen perform, or even listened to before. On Sunday of Pitchfork, rapper JPEGMAFIA was that artist for me. I wandered over to JPEGMAFIA’s set with no expectations, having never seen him before, and his stage presence was one that immediately drew me (and everyone else) in. After making his way onstage, it didn’t take long for the performer to become very close with the audience; He began his set giving photographers and people in the crowd hugs ,and shortly after, crowd surfed. Throughout his set, he probably spent more time in the crowd than onstage between all of his surfing and standing on the barricade to dance with the audience. JPEGMAFIA is a performer who demands your attention and puts all their energy into keeping your attention for the duration of the show, and he put on one of the best sets of Pitchfork Weekend.
Ibeyi is a duo of French twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz, and while I’ve listened to them for years, I unfortunately never had the chance to see them perform before their set at Pitchfork. Ibeyi’s performance at the fest was well worth the wait and reinforced how much of a fan I am of their music. They started their set and immediately brought positive vibes and good spirits with their kind energy and smiles, but it was their sisterly harmonies and strong vocals that gave me goosebumps. My favorite part of their set was when they used their music to share their political beliefs, performing their song “No Man Is Big Enough For My Arms,” which samples part of a speech by Michelle Obama.
Texas trio Khruangbin has also been a favorite of mine to see live, and their set at Pitchfork Festival was no exception. While they’re a band of few words and play a lot of instrumental jams, they were able to capture a large crowd with their entrancing blend of funk, soul, and psychedelic tunes. Khruangbin has an effortlessly cool stage presence, making them the perfect Sunday afternoon act.
Hometown heroes Whitney made their return to Pitchfork Festival, following up their 2016 performance at the fest with a kickoff to their new era. Earlier this summer, the band announced their highly anticipated sophomore album Forever Turned Around would be released August 30th, so naturally their first hometown show in almost a year featured some never before played songs. In addition to the new material, what really made Whitney’s set special was the sense of community—both onstage and offstage. When the band performed their popular tune “Golden Days” from their debut album, they got a little help from their friends, including Pitchfork acts Ric Wilson, Tasha, Chai, Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, and Lala Lala. The audience also sang and swayed along to all of their old favorites from Light Upon the Lake.
Charli XCX was definitely one of the more mainstream artists to play Pitchfork Festival this year. As a pop artist, Charli XCX is an artist whose songs are everywhere— songs that you’ll know 99% of the words to because they’re so catchy they stick with you after only a couple of listens. Despite the larger than life pop anthems that she’s known for, Charli’s stage set up was actually pretty minimal. Two massive yellow cubes acted as a backdrop, and the singer made her entrance onto stage by herself, sans a backing band. Though her setup was simple, her fanbase proved to be mighty; Fans camped out at the Red Stage all day to get a prime spot, they wore pink cowboy hats and held up signs with references to her songs. The dedicated fans helped make the set so powerful— as they danced and sang along, the positive energy radiated throughout the crowd.
Robyn closed out the whole festival with one of the most fun and cathartic shows I’ve ever seen. Robyn’s set up featured a delicately draped backdrop and backup singers, but at the center of her incredible performance stood her legendary electro-pop songs. Getting to experience the live performance of songs like “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing On My Own” in a huge crowd of both friends and strangers all singing and dancing along was the best way to close out the festival weekend.
Photos of Flasher, Black Midi, Tasha, JPEGMAFIA, Ibeyi, Clairo, Khruangbin, Whitney, Chari XCX, Snail Mail, and Robyn