After a full weekend of Pitchfork Music Festival, one thing has become fully apparent; women rule the festival circuit. Though Kendrick Lamar was inspired and gave one of the far better performances of his lengthy festival run, it was Grimes who took home the flowery festival crown. Watching a one-person show can get pretty old really fast, though it’s rather impressive to see one person able to hold the fort down musically. Grimes has grown exponentially as an artist and an entertainer. Though flanked by two dancers, it was evident that she could more than handle covering the stage on her own aesthetically. Pitchfork’s live stream cameras presumably had a ball capturing fans jumping just as high as the pop-savvy producer as she danced between synths and modulators, leaning in close to push the instruments even further as a fan cooled Grimes from what was shaping up to be an act of aerobics.
Over at the Blue Stage, DJ Spinn and his crew were turning the smallest stage into one of the largest parties of the weekend. He may have shouted-out fallen comrade DJ Rashad, but his performance was as much a tribute as it was a celebration of Rashad’s life. Despite the Blue Stage’s increasing reputation as the place to get as high as humanly possible, not a lot of smoking seemed to go down during DJ Spinn’s set. Spinn’s dancers and the audience around him were rapt from the start as perhaps one of the most moving footwork performances unfolded before their very eyes. To celebrate DJ Rashad and pay respect to the genre was fitting given Rashad’s performance at the festival last year. Add to that the fact that both are hometown heroes and you’ve got an amped-up tribute that needs no chemical enhancement.
Closing out the festival was hip-hop wunderkind and often hip headliner Kendrick Lamar. Unlike most festivals, Pitchfork’s audience seems to air on the far more chill and even-tempered than the hyper festivals that make crowds feel like a massive protozoa about to engulf you and damn near eat you alive. Lamar’s set marked the only time that fans being shoved to the limits of the barricades proved painful, almost downright abusive. Security marched through wherever they could to keep an eye on fans jumping into the photo pit (which happened just as Lamar was taking the stage half an hour late) or jumping all over each other. Lamar played the festival some two years ago and since then he’s been a road dog, honing the tracks that made him famous and joyously responding to the audience with less childlike wonder and more of an intuitive bent; he dealt more so with problems such as to which side of the stage he should be catering to and what can keep the show effortlessly flowing once he’s exhausted his good kid, m.A.A.d city material.
Though certain musical setbacks may have spelled trouble for the festival (looking at you, Death Grips), Pitchfork was by all accounts a success to its fans and those who help put on the Union Park event. Goose Island made a special pilsner to commemorate Pitchfork’s curated choices, its analog missed connections spelling very few on Craigslist and the vinyl market, along with the many limited edition prints and posters around it. This all made for a music aficionado’s dream come true. For those with more than a passing interest in hot festival artists and buzz-worthy bands, Pitchfork is definitely your festival.