Saturday at Union Park dawned with a slight dip in the heat and a bit of a breeze, however, it was still a stifling summer afternoon. Kicking things off was an opening set from Protomartyr that featured frontman Joe Casey dressed in all black… We are talking full on pants, long sleeve shirt and a blazer! Shortly after Protomartyr started the day, a crowd formed at the smaller Blue stage across the park for Pitchfork’s “Rising” band, Bully. By the time frontwoman Alicia Bognanno had taken the stage, the area was packed with fans. Bully did not disappoint, as they ripped through a high energy set of tunes centered around the Nashville band’s debut album, Feels Like.
With the clouds building and rain starting to fall, Ex Hex took the stage for what would become an abbreviated set. Five songs in and the wind started to gain some force and the rain had become a torrential downpour. There was a severe thunderstorm pushing through the area. A loud crack of thunder was quickly followed by the announcement that the Park was being evacuated. Festivalgoers were urged to find shelter in nearby buildings. No one was certain when or if the festival would reopen. Luckily the storm passed through as quickly as it struck and Pitchfork tweeted that the park would reopen in 30 minutes. All things considered, the storm delay had a minimal impact on Saturday’s schedule. Sets by Ex Hex and Kurt Vile were shortened and Vince Staples’ flight was unable to land in Chicago, necessitating the cancellation of his set. With the festival back up and running, the fans who braved the swamped and muddy fields were treated to a lineup that continued to deliver. The post-storm delay highlights included performances by The New Pornographers, Future Islands, and a headlining set from Sleater-Kinney.
Sleater-Kinney reunited at the end of 2014 and released a new album, No Cities to Love. They have been out on the road re-asserting themselves as a must-see live act. On Saturday night, half way through their set, the buzz in the crowd was that this was the performance to beat. Sleater-Kinney’s high energy performance owned the day and laid down a marker for the best set of the weekend.