The last day of Pitchfork Fest, I’d assert, was the day that had the highest concentration of crowd-pleasing favorites: in just sheer numbers, today’s lineup was the highest up in terms of hitting on almost every conceivable niche of possible audience interest all across the obscurity-to-popularity spectrum. And with Solange—Solange!—headlining, there was nothing to possibly complain about.
We started our day with NE-HI, Chicago-based indie rockers who occupy the same kind of musical-aesthetic space as fellow Chicagoans Twin Peaks. With washed out drum beats and sunny, lighthearted guitar riffs, NE-HI sailed through a set that contained more energy than most people have that early in the afternoon. Their vigor was concentrated primarily in their frenetic, delightfully feverish onstage performance. You could easily imagine these jumpy garage rockers riling up a half energetic, half eyes-closed-head-nodding crowd in a local Chicago basement. They pleased the audience with their blissfully catchy “Stay Young,” probably their most immediately recognizable song, one that evokes an early-2000s nostalgia and summertime, windows-down drives. Below are some highlights from their set (photos credited to Meredith Mattlin).
From there, we moved a very short distance to the adjacent stage that would soon host Isaiah Rashad (a Tennessee native!). Rashad’s performance was a heartwarmingly genuine mix of casual audience interaction (apologizing for starting songs over, bantering with us, etc.) and pure, unadulterated talent. You got the sense that Isaiah’s onstage presence was an exaggerated version of his character, but a sincere and endearing one—one that was so incredibly fun to watch that it was impossible to look away. His unique blend of playfulness, authenticity and intimidating realness was awesome to both see and hear. See some of our photos from the set below (photos credited to Meredith Mattlin).
Just five minutes after Rashad’s set ended, Hamilton Leithauser’s began. Hamilton Leithauser just emanates stripped-down, raw talent; most of his set was him center-stage with his guitar, bellowing throaty lyrics for an engrossed midday audience. Though he’s been doing music since the ‘90s, he became most known in recent memory for collaborating with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij on a fantastic album called I Had A Dream That You Were Mine. He played everyone’s favorites and then some. In between songs, he talked a lot about New York City—the backdrop of much of work—and the oversaturation of musicians there (which seemed to be a real point of irritation to him). Here are our photos from his set (photos credited to Meredith Mattlin):
Following Leithauser’s set, we dashed to see a WRVU favorite: Pinegrove. We are big fans of these boys here (reminisce with our interview with them and concert footage of their Café Coco show from last year here!). And with good reason: they are extraordinarily talented. Calm, emotionally-charged mumbles from Evan Stephens Hall’s mouth explode into contorted, intricate guitar riffs in front of impossibly clever lyrics. Their genuineness and intensity onstage glues them together as a kind of collaborative organism that’s simply incredible to watch. See our favorite photos of their set below (photos credited to Meredith Mattlin).
Sadly, The Avalanches had an emergency that led to their canceling their set. Instead, Jamila Woods moved to their stage, and delivered a soulful, emotional, and beautiful performance. Following Jamila Woods, we moved back to the previous stage. We couldn’t miss American Football, whose instrumentally-heavy, atmospheric emo post-rock was mesmerizing and hypnotic. See photos from both of these sets below (photos credited to Meredith Mattlin).
And then, at last, Solange: a kind of delayed-gratification salvation that promised both an exhilarating end to a fantastic festival and an overall inspiring performance. There’s something inherently poetic about someone as deserving as Solange getting the widespread recognition she rightly earned, and her headlining spot at a festival as huge as Pitchfork Fest was just a testament to that. Her impassioned, powerful performance—filled with sharp dance moves and painstakingly organized backup—was an acutely impactful experience, and a great way to finish the festival. Below are some of our favorite photos from her set (photos credited to Jackie Lee Young).