Day two at Pitchfork was quite a success.
The weather yesterday was something festival goers wish for every year, and in Chicago, those humidity-free 80 degree days are quite a rarity. With a crowd that seemed almost double in size compared to the day before, every stage was bumping and filled with trendy music listeners.
Blood Orange’s set was just as magical as I was hoping it would be: donning simple jogger pants and a headband, Devonte Hynes started things off by playing the audio track off of the first song from his recent album, Freetown Sound. The woman’s voice on the track echoed off the park, as she spoke in slam-poetry style about feminism and media representation in today's society. You could feel the audience’s emotion as cheers swelled up in the strong points of her speech. Hynes then sat down on his low-set piano, playing simple notes that hushed the enormous crowd gathered to see him perform. As he rose to grab a mic, two of Hynes’ fierce backup singers strutted across the stage to their mics and the saxophonist grabbed his instrument as they all, in perfect synchronization, began “Augustine”. Later on, Hynes brought out Carly Rae Jepsen for the tune, “All That”. Hynes’ unique style blends the culture of off-pop 90’s music with clear inspiration from David Bowie and Prince, tied into his own unique vision. Hynes seemed so relaxed on stage, as he twirled around singing dreamy notes and with the sun shining behind him, the atmosphere of the set was almost ethereal.
BJ The Chicago Kid surprised me with a heartfelt emotion reflected on his face during his performance, and his hardcore drumming skills between songs. His backup guitarist absolutely shredded a few solos of his own, and BJ covered a lot of songs, including tunes from other notable Chicago artists like Kanye West (“THat Part”) and Chance the Rapper (“No Problem”).
Brian Wilson started his set early, and as I ran up to catch the last spot in the photo pit, I found myself pausing for a second as the group sang “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. The song sounded exactly like the Pet Sounds recording, making me question if The Beach Boys were all somehow back together on stage. Wilson remained behind his big grand piano for the length of the performance, staring at his sheet music and occasionally glancing into the jeering crowd. One fan at the front screamed out during a quiet pause, “This is my favorite album ever!” The band members all smiled, and for the whole set, they seemed happy to be performing some of the most beautiful music ever composed. Chicago natives John Cusack (who played Brian Wilson in the film “Love and Mercy”), along with his sister Joan, both came out for a song and sang at the front of the stage with one of the backup singers. Everyone seemed as if they were in a sweet stupor of nostalgia during Wilson’s set.
Since catching Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals at Red Rocks, I have had my eye set on snapping Paak again. I was buzzing with excitement as he ran onstage and went right into “Milk N’ Honey”. Standing between two speakers that were blasting bass so hard that my dress was being blown around, I couldn’t hear Paak’s voice well over the mic, but I was close enough to actually hear him from my spot near the stage. Being so close, I could feel the energy radiating off of Paak and his whole band. He brought so much more power to this performance, keeping energy high by going right into his almost trap-like song, “Drugs”, from the album Venice. He jumped over to the speaker next to me, singing down into my lens before stepping over my head. After the first three songs, security pushed press back, as I reluctantly left the pit. Despite being back in the crowd, the energy was still palpable as Paak got the audience to dance their faces off. It was fantastic.