Feature photos of Allá by Weekly Dig
First and foremost, a huge applause to Pitchfork staff and volunteers who remained cheery and accommodating all weekend. Artists across the board continuously praised Pitchfork for its hospitality and sincere concern for the audience, handing out free water during every performance, reminding everyone to watch out for each other, to stay safe, hydrated, and have amass abundant fun. Security wasn’t too bad either: a couple ambitious gazelles got caught jumping the fence, sprinting for safety into the park but security handled their business with wit and ease. Security and volunteers get props for often sparking up banter with press and being open to the audience’s enthusiasm, spraying water to cool down and quench the eager barricade pushers. Some of the press complained that this year was one of the tighter years in terms of backstage access and even the photo pit time, but that’s to be expected as Pitchfork moves into its 6th year, growing in national attention and scope.
The line up included big label stars Big Boi, LCD Soundsystem, Pavement, and Sony label sensation Robyn, drawing in huge crowds throughout the festival. Sunday night offered the best line-up, by far, with underground classics on the quaint and singularly shaded Balance Stage on the southernmost end of Union Park. Sunday’s rain threatened gloom and doom for the festival, but Pitchfork staff were adamant the festival would continue, rain or shine. Again, Pitchfork stayed on its hospitality game, filling up swamped puddles with wood chips and lots of love. The sun blazed, the music blared and the energy remained high throughout the festival. With free Clif bars, ice-cream and excellent food vendors (Star of Siam’s Veggie and Shrimp Tempura was a hit), plenty of beer and an impressive array of artists at the Flatstock Poster Fair, representing local and national printers, the festival offered plenty of delightful diversions.
Friday fared fine, easing audiences into the festival with style and much promised zeal. The Liars, straying from the eerily morose and delightfully dreary sound of their recorded albums, gave a lively show, deceiving audiences with their energy and exuberance. Donning daisy dukes, the lead singer of the Liars delighted all the equally gangly and gaunt goons amongst the masses. Friday’s highlight was definitely Robyn. Comeback queen Robyn roused audiences, giving an earnest, hip-hop and dance hall inspired pop ambiance, amassing all the cool queer kids and teeny boppers, while keeping all the old school 90’s ravers enthralled. And watching a white girl try to juke is always amusing, isn’t it?
Saturday was set solid by local rockers, the Netherfriends. A welcomed surprise, the jovial band’s publicist informed that Neitherfriends will be starting a 50 states 50 songs tour, collaborating with artists across the country. These guys are definitely going places. With weird instruments like the harpaphone, what else could you ask for? Later Saturday evening, the crowd patiently awaited the heavy hitters, Wolf Parade and LCD Soundsystem on the Aluminum Stage. Wolf Parade saw its fare share of suburban crowd surfers, before LCD Soundsystem stole the show. Their giant disco ball, weighing several tons, dazzled the audiences at set up. The anticipation was well worth the wait, as waves of energy flooded the stage. The front row was dripping wet with security continually hosing down the fans. Several fans started chaffing from all the jumping and sweaty backs, arms and elbows rubbing up against each other. Everyone was saturated in everyone else’s sweat by the end of the night.
Sunday funday surprised audiences with an incredible array of artists. Starting with Chicago-natives, and avant indie legends Allá, Jorge Ledezma gave a virtuoso performance, passionately fist pumping his guitar into a bloody pulp. Rumors went flying across the park about the vigorous Allá introduction to the day, breaking the rainy morning with their edge and audacity. Lead vocalist Lupe Martinez wore a gorgeously goth, black-petaled flower in her hair, setting her apart as the avant-indie princess of the weekend. And her airy vocals carried across the park with sonic ease and seduction.
Following Allá on stage A, stage B owned the rest of the evening, packing audiences into the cool, shaded, quaint corner of the festival. Best Coast gave a geeky college angst, stoner fanfare, performing light and playfully infectious chorus and catchy melodies. Local Native’s stylish and upbeat, four part harmonies rivaling the Beatles, gave an amazing Arcade Fire cover. Surfer Blood’s energetic and sophisticated sound was intense yet soothing.
Stage A offered another heavy hit after Allá’s avant aggression, Major Lazer astounded audiences with an appropriated Chinese New Year dragon dance and sexual hip-hop gymnastics. The mostly anglo-audience was delighted to absorb, yet another, stereotypical and slightly (only slightly) offensive display of dumbfounding juke gymnastics. The exuberant, Bojangles and Tom Sawyer inspired, blue jump suited Major Lazer MC, gave a perplexing performance, rife with sensational, mid-performance alcohol swigs and dangerously denigrating gogo girls gyrating for all the horned-up white boys’ viewing pleasure. Several people reported unexpected pregnancies throughout the set. However, the tone remained light and the promise of coital contact thoroughly tantalized the sun-baked throngs.
Wrapping it up, Neon Indian saved the evening, back on stage B, with their infectiously hip, south of the border swag, intriguing pops, clicks, and quarky dance melodies. Alan Palomo wins the best dressed and cutest boy award. And of course, rivaling Big Boi’s classic hip-rap, house-hop performance, Sleigh Bells gave an adequately abrasive, heavy-metal and hip-hop meets industrial edge to the evening.
Needless to say, Pitchfork satisfied well beyond expectations. We look forward to next year’s line-up to rival this year’s. We expect the hospitality and sincerity in Pitchfork’s promise to offer a safe and fun summer festival that will thrive and prosper into the future. Pitchfork goes on top of the Gozamos list for presenting the newest and hottest acts to Chicago music fans and for bringing the very best summer sounds.