Pitchfork Festival 2022 Recap: Mitski, the National, Roots

Pitchfork Festival tends to be one in all the better-curated weekends of the summer season — particularly in comparison with Chicago counterparts like Lollapalooza — because of its emphasis on music discovery. But this year’s occasion added a dimension of fan service to the equation. You may virtually envision the kind of music lover who’d attend every day: the millennial indie man able to rock to the National and Parquet Courts on Friday; the extraordinarily on-line fan hungry for the catharsis of Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, and Lucy Dacus on Saturday; the young and old hip-hop head uniting round Earl Sweatshirt, Noname, and the Roots on Sunday. And every one had greater than sufficient purpose to go away completely happy. I noticed all of it over three days — and far more, from astonishing side-stage performances to plenty of rain and dust. Ahead, a few of the greatest (and worst) moments of Pitchfork 2022.

HIGH: The early festivalgoer was rewarded.
The soothing voice of Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab floated by way of a wet Union Park on Friday; her lovely, meandering ballads had been the good solution to ease into the pageant. The similar went for Saturday, when guitarist Jeff Parker and his jazz collective the New Breed opened with a jam session, and Sunday, when rapper Pink Siifu crowded the stage for a smoke-filled, laid-back celebration of Southern music. Aside from these chill kickoffs, there have been some early huge attracts, like a sweats-clad Ethel Cain, whose “Family Tree” gave the impression of a dark incantation in the rain. But the greatest purpose to indicate up when the gates opened? Chicago raunch rapper CupcakKe, whose bravado was so contagious she was capable of lead a crowd of hundreds to shout about sucking dick at 2 p.m. on a Saturday.

LOW: The rain.
Sure, complaining about inclement climate at a pageant is nothing new. But each time it appeared like the rain would let up on Pitchfork, it stored going — particularly on Sunday, when it wasn’t even forecast to rain. The downpour ultimately made a massive mud pit at one in all the phases on Sunday, the place no followers dared to step. (It additionally led Earl Sweatshirt to guarantee the viewers his music wasn’t match for moshing.)

HIGH: A rapper for everybody.
When 2021’s lineup featured a pitiful three rappers, I puzzled if Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash and Lollapalooza had been pricing Pitchfork out of rap bookings in Chicago. Thankfully, this year introduced 9 rap acts to the fest, which offered a little bit one thing for everybody: considerate bars from Noname and Earl Sweatshirt, blasts of energy from CupcakKe and Monaleo, infinite grooves from the Roots and Pink Siifu. Then there was underground New York rapper Wiki, who had all of that and extra, as he animatedly mirrored on his roots in his trademark nasally sneer. Wiki’s producer Subjxct 5 proved equally integral, particularly when he dropped a improbable and jittery new monitor off their upcoming collab Cold Cuts (which Wiki precisely described as “the disco era and the Memphis era in one”).

WHOA: Dawn Richard was the actual headliner.
It’s arduous to get a crowd of music nerds to bop, however that didn’t cease Dawn Richard. When I arrived a couple of songs into her mid-evening set at the small, tucked-away Blue Stage, the viewers was already transferring. Dance anthems off her 2021 album Second Line, together with “Bussifame” and “Boomerang,” turned much more highly effective live, and had been punctuated by gorgeous choreography and an interpolation of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak.” With a red wig that almost hit the flooring and backup dancers on both side of her, Richard regarded the a part of a headliner; as she danced, rapped, and belted her manner by way of her set, she acted it too. And the former Danity Kane member confirmed that her versatility prolonged far past dance music, like when she wailed the Cranberries’ “Zombie” right into a glowing, Auto-Tuned mic, whereas kneeling in entrance of her soloing guitarist. “I gave you every piece of me,” Richard declared on her closing music, “Heaven,” however that also wasn’t sufficient. Minutes later, she returned to present much more, performing an encore in a lit-up, crownlike headpiece that quickly fell off from her vigorous dancing.

LOW: The many lineup adjustments.
If you had been trying ahead to rapper Tkay Maidza or jazz-rockers BadBadNotGood, sorry — each acts canceled final minute, as a consequence of visa points and sickness, respectively. That was on prime of an earlier cancellation by English rock group Chubby and the Gang, who pulled out of a U.S. tour forward of the pageant. At least the occasion had some top-notch replacements in its back pocket, together with rockers the Linda Lindas, Houston rapper Monaleo, and Chicago experimental mainstays the Natural Information Society.

WHOA: The Armed’s lovely chaos.
Days later, I’m nonetheless making an attempt to wrap my head round what I witnessed throughout the Armed’s Saturday Blue Stage set. Yes, I did see 11 people crowd onto the stage — together with a blindfolded keyboardist and three backup singers in Juggalo facepaint — and tear by way of 45 minutes of maximalist hardcore. The screaming and shredding had been unrelenting, and seemingly each different music noticed some member of the band soar into the crowd; hell, by the finish, half of them had gotten swallowed by the pit at the entrance of the stage. As huge of a manufacturing because it was, the set nonetheless felt intimate, even from a band of rotating characters whose identities are principally a thriller.

HIGH: yeule and Magdalena Bay introduced their pop visions to life.
I completed Friday at Thalia Hall, the place the digital musician yeule performed a Pitchfork pre-show in the spherical. The setting completely served their efficiency, as Nat Ćmiel, lithe and acrobatic, moved to the music throughout the stage. Their use of vocal results meant the songs didn’t sound a lot completely different live, save for a young second towards the finish after they picked up a guitar to play “Eyes” and “Don’t Be So Hard on Your Own Beauty.” But that wasn’t the level of the present — it was to share on this internet-born music in particular person, to bop round to the gloriously cathartic “Bites on My Neck” at the finish of the set. Meanwhile, Magdalena Bay greater than excelled at bringing their model of pop to one in all their greatest phases but. The duo ran by way of their improbable 2021 album Mercurial World so as, as they did on tour — however with out the colourful set items and projections they’d once I noticed them in February. That barely mattered, although, as singer Mica Tenenbaum shortly obtained the crowd transferring, whereas Matt Lewin ripped by way of guitar solos, including a pointy live edge to their normally polished music.

WHOA: Japanese Breakfast does all of it.
The final two years have been a showcase for Michelle Zauner’s myriad abilities, from making terrific indie-pop as Japanese Breakfast to writing her poignant bestselling memoir Crying in H Mart. She packed as a lot of that expertise as she may into an hour throughout her Pitchfork set. At the outset, she was a pop star, dancing and banging a flower-covered gong to her buoyant Jubilee songs “Paprika” and “Be Sweet.” Later, she was a bandleader for a stellar rendition of “Glider,” one in all her compositions for the 2021 online game Sable. She was then a duet partner to Chicago icon Jeff Tweedy, who joined for his favourite music of hers, “Kokomo, IN,” and a efficiency of Wilco’s “Jesus, Etc.,” that includes lovely harmonies from Zauner. And she closed as a rock god, pouring out the minutes-long guitar solo of “Posing for Cars” earlier than a face-melting “Diving Woman.”

HIGH: Mitski had what the National lacked.
Friday’s National set had a easy draw: the band’s first U.S. gig since the pandemic. But until you had been a National devotee (and to be honest, a lot of the crowd was), it lacked the pleasure a headlining set should convey. Sure, the guitars sounded sturdy, and the band’s new songs match right in, however the efficiency solely excelled for transient moments, like when Matt Berninger entered the crowd for “Mr. November.” Saturday’s headliner, Mitski, placed on far more of a present, operating by way of renditions of songs from throughout her career, full together with her signature interpretive dance choreography. (Shockingly, she by no means picked up a guitar.) For such a manufacturing, the tracks felt instant; each weaker cuts from her current Laurel Hell and her strongest songs, like 2018’s “Geyser,” benefited from larger-than-life renditions from her five-piece band. For all Mitski gave as a performer, the enraptured crowd gave it right back, screaming at her each transfer.

WHOA: The most important phases obtained bizarre.
Usually, followers have to hunt out the oddest performances at the smaller Blue Stage, however on Sunday, they had been right there on the most important phases. It started with L’Rain, the experimentalist whose observe of “approaching songness” was on full show as she led a band by way of her shifting, exploratory tracks that fall someplace between free jazz and experimental-electronic. She relished the course of, typically laughing and smiling at her impeccable band as they performed. Later, the Natural Information Society jammed for a meandering hour, all held collectively by bandleader Joshua Abrams on the guembri. Even a few of the rap acts veered left-of-center, like Injury Reserve’s dissonant set, or Earl Sweatshirt’s jazzy, pensive hip-hop.

LOW: The variety of Chicago musicians.
Just three of the acts who carried out at Pitchfork at present live in Chicago, since native heroes Jeff Parker and Noname moved to Los Angeles. (And a type of acts, the National Information Society, was a last-minute addition to the lineup.) It’s a strikingly low quantity for a pageant that tends to highlight its host metropolis’s expertise. That solely didn’t halt the weekend’s metropolis pleasure although, significantly on Sunday, when silk-voiced R&B singer Kaina carried out with Chicago artist Sen Morimoto and drummer Ryan Pearson (who later performed with Noname). Clouds blanketed the sky, however Kaina made the stage glow, warmly reflecting on her Chicago roots with songs off her current album It Was a Home. Later, it felt becoming to see Kaina sidestage, having fun with Noname’s celebratory, unfastened homecoming. And after native singer Akenya joined to carry out her function on “Reality Check,” she introduced Noname with a bouquet — actually giving her her flowers, she mentioned. The crowd, excited to see the rapper back house, adopted swimsuit.

HIGH: The saxophones.
I began conserving depend of saxophones on Saturday, when Dry Cleaning introduced out the Chicago performer Bruce Lamont to visitor on “Unsmart Lady.” He was the second saxophonist I’d seen, after the New Breed’s earlier set. And they stored coming — by the finish of the weekend, I’d witnessed sax performances with Japanese Breakfast, L’Rain, Kaina, the Natural Information Society, Cate Le Bon, and, after all, the Roots. Bonus factors to Natural Information, which carried out with two saxophones, plus a bass clarinet.

WHOA: The Roots stored enjoying.
As in, for practically 90 minutes, right till 9:59 p.m. As in, Questlove didn’t cease drumming for longer than 15 seconds. As in, I believed the efficiency was over three completely different occasions, they usually simply. stored. going. For a legacy act, the long-running hip-hop band’s closing set was stuffed with the sudden, from a sousaphone solo by Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson to a visitor rap from Chicagoan Hannibal Buress to a cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” And the Roots and the crowd each didn’t need it to finish.

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