Pitchfork Fest 2015 Friday Recap

facebooktwittertumblrby feather

pitchfork-music-festival-logo-SMALLER
The fickle Chicago weather strikes again. After what has been an unusually cool and rainy summer, the hottest weekend in years occurs the same time Pitchfork Music Festival sets up shop in Union Park. Luckily, the temps cooled ever so slightly and gave way to a warm but occasionally refreshing breeze. And, like so many years at Pitchfork Music Festival, Friday started out subdued before slowly picking up steam and ending with raucous performance from hometown heroes, Wilco. Anyway, on to our full recap of day one…

3:40 p.m. – Natalie Prass
Photo by Dan Henshaw

Photo by Dan Henshaw


As far as festival opening sets go, singer/songwriter Natalie Prass delivered. She rattled off several tracks from her excellent self-titled debut including “Your Fool” and “Bird of Prey,” which got crowd dancing. Prass wasn’t much for stage banter, opting to compliment the “good looking” audience between songs. She eventually ditched her guitar and launched into a cover of Janet Jackson’s “Any Time Any Place,” which kicked an already entertaining set up a notch. A new song followed, which was quite upbeat – faster than anything from her record – as opposed to album cut “Violently” whose slow lilt felt extra smooth. Other highlights included “My Baby Don’t Understand Me” and “Why Don’t You Believe In Me?,” which made for a very strong conclusion. Top to bottom, it was a powerful set from an engaging singer-songwriter. (Dan Henshaw)

5:35 p.m. – Steve Gunn
Photo by Richard Giraldi

Photo by Richard Giraldi


Steve Gunn’s folky, alt-country twang felt right at home in the muggy, Texas-like warmth that seized control of Union Park on Friday. The shade to the far right of the blue stage provided the perfect low key hanging spot for many. And low key perfectly describes Gunn’s set. While he was most impressive conjuring fiery licks from his guitar, Gunn’s acutely straightforward performance felt like a young band still getting used to the big stage. (Richard Giraldi)

6:00 p.m. – Mac DeMarco


After immensely enjoying Mac DeMarco’s set at Pitchfork 2013, I was very much looking forward to his performance seeing how he dropped the excellent Salad Days in the interim. Well, safe to say, he did not disappoint. Clouds rolled in as “Salad Days” elicited cheers from the overheated crowd, and then DeMarco delivered a smattering of cuts from 2 and Salad Days. “Ode to Viceroy, “Brother,” and “Chamber of Reflection” were punctuated by the band’s highly reputed goofy stage banter. The guitarist repeatedly hyped Thom Yorke as the closing act of the festival, and Mac implored him at one point to remove his shirt for a PSA on sunburns. Instead of the cover medley the band performed two years ago, this year’s fest was treated to a full cover of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In the Years,” which DeMarco declared was “for the dads out there, if there are any.” The antics and tunes combined for a set full fun moments. (Dan Henshaw)

6:50 p.m. – Panda Bear


Noah Lennox took the green stage to deliver a strong set that was fairly similar to his most recent tour when he previewed his new LP, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. Of course, that meant a number of cuts from that fine record, like “Boys Latin,” “Come to Your Senses,” and “Selfish Gene.” The setlist was not only similar, but Lennox employed the same trippy visuals from his last time out. Though they looked cool, the images were displayed on the video screen rather than a backdrop, so the effect wasn’t as intoxicating. But most importantly, the songs sounded great, and I particularly enjoyed album and set closer “Acid Wash,” a beautiful song that Lennox delivered with cooing falsetto. (Dan Henshaw)

7:25 p.m. – Iceage
Photo by Richard Giraldi

Photo by Richard Giraldi


For a day that was mostly filled with hush acoustics and chill party jams, there’s no denying I was looking forward to Iceage’s set. And when the band came stumbling out of the gate with their ramshackle Danish indie rock, it was a sight to behold. At times, frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt looked like a sleazier, dirtier Michael Stipe as he prowled around the stage. Unfortunately, the band’s flair for the dramatic didn’t help enhance their often overly dreary jams, which turned a strong start into a sagging midsection. (Richard Giraldi)

9:30 p.m. – Wilco
Photo by Richard Giraldi

Photo by Richard Giraldi


You really have to hand it to Wilco. Not many bands would have the guts, the audacity, the, well, balls, to surprise release a new record, and then play it in full the very next night headlining a destination music festival. Except Wilco who debuted 10 cuts* from their new record Star Wars, which was officially released for free the previous evening – Thursday, July 16. “These are all new songs from our new record Star Wars. It has a cat on the cover,” Jeff Tweedy said early on. Wilco did right by the new material. The glammy guitars of “Random Name Generator” hummed and the smokey groove of “Cold Slope” was infectious. But the crowd, many of whom had absolutely no idea what they were listening to, tuned out until about half an hour in – when Star Wars was over. Afterwards, all it took was a few bars of “Handshake Drugs” to capture their attention. A definite highlight, not just of this Pitchfork but any, was when a brisk breeze picked up right as the band launched into the dazzling “Impossible Germany” from 2007’s Sky Blue Sky. From there, they hit their stride ending with a suite from Being There and a couple from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Despite having played Chicago countless times in the past, Wilco still manages to bring something new to the stage for their hometon. Now, that’s impressive. (Richard Giraldi) *LP opener “EKG” was used as piped-in introduction music

facebooktwittertumblrby feather

Be first to comment