Friday’s first day of Pitchfork Festival wasted no time getting into it, where many festival entrants walked in to the fully-wrought hypnotic swirl of Lower Dens, a set that eventually gave way to the raucous appearance of the ASAP Mob, all before dinner time. Once again, one of the country’s most manageable, well-paced festivals hit the ground running. Check out some images from Friday taken by Carmelo Espanola up top and read Friday’s recap below.
While I wouldn’t call it a soft start, by any means — plenty of folks arrived when gates opened at 3 — the clouds opened up on Chicago, bathing the festival’s open grounds with rain. While some more casual observers sought refuge, most of the crowd took it in stride, allowing the torrents of water to lend an epic feel to sets by ASAP Rocky (who probably had the most gravitational pull of any single act) and Japandroids. (“There was a request to make it louder,” Japandroids’ drummer David Prowse said as they got going. “Just saying.”) Hometown hero Willis Earl Beal sang his heart out for the (mostly still-standing) crowd, talking about his memories of the area around the festival’s Union Park ground — “I used to ride my bike past here, from 85th to Lake Shore Drive” — and quasi-apologizing for the awkardness of his slowly-unpeeling, deliberate fare at an outdoor music festival. “People say I’m overindulgent and sappy,” Beal said. “I try hard.”
As the evening progressed, Dirty Projectors played a well-balanced set on the Red Stage, hitting the highs of both the fan-beloved Bitte Orca and the new Swing Lo Magellan. While they didn’t exactly convert the skeptics — people that are unmoved by coordinated crowd-clapping sections and the “Fun Times Family Band!” aspect of their performance — the audience responded well, especially if you’re going by the gaggle of people in the front row screaming the words and miming Dave Longstreth’s guitar playing.
Purity Ring and Feist played dueling closing sets, shows that started at 8:20 and divided the crowd pretty evenly, where people more inclined to sprawling out in the grass chose Feist and those more inclined to blinking, fiber-optic cocoons choosing Purity Ring. On one stage, there was a confident, established performer with an understated approach, and on the other, a duo with more to prove, focused on polishing their performance in the week before their debut album is released. In a festival where you don’t have to choose a lot — set times on the three stages are designed to minimize overlap — that decision was easily most difficult of the idyllic Chicago night.