Day three of Pitchfork Music Festival began with raging thunderstorms in the early morning and ominous clouds lurking overhead for a good part of the day. But finally, the sky broke apart to reveal a shimmery sun and sticky humidity, just in time to rally Sunday’s festival goers with the day’s awesome lineup.
Not initially part of my agenda of acts to catch, East London singer Nao called me forth to her stage with her unique voice and poppin’ beats. Going barefoot in a bright floral romper, Nao commanded the crowd with her strong presence onstage. She was extremely comfortable in her performing abilities, moving gracefully between the mic and twirly dance moves. Her voice synced incredibly well with her deep, almost 90s-like beats. She even blew herself away, pausing occasionally between the songs to smile brightly and take it all in. Her ability to appeal to everyone in the crowd made her music that much more powerful, and there was even an adorable toddler standing on the barricades with her dad, looking up to Nao and dancing along to every song.
Next up was Honduran-American multi-talented electro-pop artist, Empress Of. Despite starting late, her crowd was immense as she stood on stage completely alone, navigating between the keys, drums and vocals. For being one person onstage multi-tasking between instruments, I was surprised by how much Empress Of was able to create a fun environment while keeping the audience engaged. Her music has many elements and layers to it, and each one incited major dance parties.
The day continued with Jeremih’s set. Jeremih is revered for having a large amount of radio hits, so every song he played had the crowd insanely hyped. Rumors and sightings of past Pitchfork headliner and Chicagoan, Chance the Rapper, stirred extra excitement in the crowd. When the DJ dropped the beginning of Chance’s “No Problem”, the crowd jammed themselves further to the front of the stage as the smiling rapper emerged. You could literally see a wave move through the audience as people moved closer to see this hometown hero. Jeremih and Chance riffed off of each other’s energy for a few of Chance’s songs, including “Angels”. Jeremih didn’t lose any energy when Chance left the stage; when he tried to jump into the crowd during “Oui”, he fell in-between two speakers and was caught by security guards. But that didn’t stop him; he ran right up to the crowd before being forced by security back around to the stage. Though the set was overall killer, he did close with Desiigner’s “Panda” instead of his own tunes, which was somewhat disappointing.
Miguel delivered an unbelievably beautiful set; his band had such a palpable energy that Miguel made every fan in the crowd fall in love with him over and over again. What impressed me more so than his crooning voice and sexy dance moves was what he said between his songs. Miguel was really the first artist at Pitchfork to truly address the turbulent times going on in the world right now. He urged people to stop posting pictures praying for other people, and to actually go out and do something to change the world:
“This is the kind of solidarity and unity we crave…this moment, is the most beautiful thing to be connected with you…let’s continue connecting, gathering gathering gathering, that’s the only thing that’s gonna heal all this separation…” he said.
Miguel then prompted the crowd to chant with their fists in the air, “We’re all that we’ve got”. The contrast between Jeremih’s all-hype set compared to Miguel’s multifaceted, multi-genre and celebration of love and unity was interesting to compare.
Finally, English singer FKA Twigs closed out Pitchfork for 2016. With a trained dance background and edgy style, she created the most captivating set of the whole weekend. FKA stayed in her zone while performing, and never once broke her set to talk to the crowd and show appreciation. There was one moment during a lull between songs where she simply stared out into the crowd, dressed in a shredded jean outfit with a feather through her nose. Despite trying to keep the mirage without breaking the fourth wall, I could see underneath her face that she was taking in the energy of the crowd to fuel her for the rest of the performance. One of the most creative artists currently in the industry, FKA did not disappoint. Her style is much like Björk in the way that she pushes beyond normalcy or trends. She was extremely cool to see live, and a was an incredible closer to a weekend filled with talent from across the globe.
Check out more Pitchfork Festival photos here.
All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.