Pitchfork Festival Chicago 2014

Three Days of Great Music and then some
by John Noyd
July 2014

Pitchfork Festival Chicago 2014

Pitchfork Festival Chicago 2014

Amazingly free of major technical glitches, obnoxious partiers and garish advertisers there was a lot to like about this year’s Pitchfork Festival in Chicago. The weather was a blessing, the diverse line-up top-rate and the eye-candy ranged from chic bohemian to vintage hipster. Tats, hats and mustache wax, free Tacos and Twinkies dispensed at one end and free flowers and sunscreen on the other, plus cutting-edge indie-rock, electro-pop and hip-hop smack dab in the middle. To call it manageable underscores how hard it is to fed and please 20,000 people, but after years of practice Pitchfork has it down pat.

Several alumni moved up from side stages to stronger standing this year. A lively and upbeat SHARON VAN ETTEN returned with a tightly-knit band after braving the festival a few years ago accompanying herself on guitar; going from mind-blowing loops and a ukulele, the ever-exotic TUNE-YARDS upgraded to a colorful posse of talented singers and a second drummer while the previously rained-on CLOUD NOTHINGS found sunshine and thunderous applause. From how dark sunglasses complimented the all-black attire of the DUM DUM GIRLS to the smarmy, hearty, “good morning,” Chicago’s own TWIN PEAKS gave when they began their pummeling set Saturday afternoon, each act adapted to their open-air surroundings with the quietest tunes heard clearly and only the most bombastic bass occasionally bleeding onto other stages.

Measurable festival success came from unexpected encounters; whether it was the warm fuzzy feeling seeing that two-year toddler in The Smiths t-shirt, the subtle puzzlement from the awkward, “white people,” comment from SUN KIL MOON or simply the giddy thrill of NENEH CHERRY performing Stateside for only the second time ever.  From the cheesy glee of EARL SWEATSHIRT asking fans to sing to Journey’s, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” to the waxing nostalgia watching Generation Z dance to the late great Donna Summer via GIORGIO MORODER; there were plenty of reasons to feel the feel-good vibes.

Luck may have placed you in the mosh-pit when TWIN PEAKS suddenly threw the body of a smashed guitar into the crowd, being given MAJICAL CLOUDZ’s microphone to tell a joke while they valiantly tried to fix a midi controller they later destroyed on stage or simply standing in the right spot to catch a rose from GRIMES as her dueling dancers and wind-blown hair animated a absolutely techno-groovy set. Giant video screens allowed people far away to witness ST. VINCENT wriggling on her back shredding guitar, dream weavers HUNDRED WATERS lacing cyber-swollen soul with flute or BECK placing crime scene tape across the stage. Other scenes flew under the camera’s watchful eyes; a stranger fainting, security firmly informing tokers the Blue Stage is hundred feet from a church that houses a school or standing nearby when one dude was compelled to tell everyone to go F themselves. So whether you spent the entire long weekend or just ended up catching parts of the live webcast, Pitchfork Chicago succeeded in furthering the cause to bring musical talent to the yearning masses.

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