Sunny skies finally emerged for the closing day of Pitchfork Music Festival. We’d waited all weekend for this, and yet we found a way to complain. Seriously though, it was too damn hot. Scorching sun, high humidity and a temperature over 90 degrees kept festival-goers huddled under any available shade. With no relief from the heat in the immediate vicinity of the two largest stages, Sunday was an experiment in which acts sounded best from 500 feet away.
“Show of the year” was the phrase circulating twitter following Ty Segall‘s Saturday night performance at Chicago rock venue the Empty Bottle. Segall swung from the ceiling and covered AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds”—twice. Not having attended the show, their festival set was amongst my must-sees. Even from a distance, the band’s energy was apparent. Shredding guitar and thundering drums supported Segall’s looping yells. The festival crowd was also treated to the “Dirty Deeds” cover, but with no ceiling to swing from, and no walls to shake, I couldn’t help but be disappointed I’d missed the real show.
Following Ty Segall it was time to shift stages and take refuge under a different group of trees for Real Estate. It was my first time seeing the band live and they sounded immaculate. Loose vocal melodies complemented the sprawling instrumentation. Every so often a short breeze would pass through the trees and for a moment everything in the world was perfect. You forgot the heat, the sun, your thirst. You sat a little closer to your friends.
Personal preferences aside, it was the beatmakers who dominated the weekend with the strongest sets. Flying Lotus moved aside to let AraabMusik take the crown on Sunday. One man and his MPC seemed a dangerous booking for a festival main stage. Apprehensions faded immediately. He didn’t look up, and he didn’t need to. Fingers flying a million miles a minute, head down focused, AraabMusik received an off-the-chart crowd reaction. The scene hit crazy when Chief Keef, Lil Reese, Young Chop and crew took the stage for performances of “I Don’t Like” and “Us.” There was no hiding in the trees for this set.
The calm of Beach House was a welcome segue away from the sweaty madness of AraabMusik. It was now dusk and a light breeze had filled the air. The band began to play and it felt familiar. We’d been here and done this before, on the same stage even, just two years prior in 2010. They’re a hard band to say anything negative about, and their set was the expected blend of lush and tender, leaving the crowd in glazed-eyed bliss.
I left Beach House’s set early, eager to catch some of Swedish live techno artist The Field (Alex Willner, joined live by drums and guitar). Being one of the festival’s less familiar names and with a set time overlapping Beach House, The Field already had two strikes against them before taking the stage. The crowd was sparse, and of the people gathered half seemed oblivious, simply thankful for a fence to lean on. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Lost in The Field’s atmospheric ebb and flow, us longtime fans wore blinders, swaying to the instrumental builds, closing out our festival experience in harmony with our surroundings.