A breezy and cool Sunday greeted Day 3 of the Pitchfork Music Festival. The final day of a music festival tends to be a bittersweet affair. Fans are often fatigued after multiple days of cutting loose and attending as many performances as possible on what is often a packed schedule. Despite the fatigue and the melancholy knowledge that the party is ending, the last day is often when everything clicks into place and the festival finds its groove. A certain equilibrium is achieved. Organizers have had time to adjust to unforeseen issues, and attendees have become familiar with navigating to/from multiple stages and amenities. While Sunday at Pitchfork had that recognizable laid-back vibe, Day 3 still had a few curve-balls to toss out, keeping both organizers and fans on their toes.
The day kicked off on the larger green stage with Kilo Kish providing the opening performance. The multi-talented Lakisha Kimberly “Kish” Robinson, who goes by the stage name Kilo Kish, appeared center stage dressed in an attention grabbing bright red suit. Her R&B tinged synth-pop tracks were delivered with an overt theatrical flair. She even used props during her set, including a briefcase and an old school red telephone that she brandished during several songs. She certainly made a spirited attempt to capture the attention of the relatively impassive early afternoon crowd. Next up was Colin Stetson on the red stage. Stetson, dressed in a black sleeveless t-shirt, did not look like a typical saxophonist, and his playing was anything but ordinary. With minimal small-talk the multi-instrumentalist picked up a saxophone and proceeded to create a dissonant soundscape rooted in experimental avant-garde jazz. While his compositions were impressive in their own right, they became downright astounding with the realization that he was also providing his own accompanying percussive beats and melodic counterpoints all while never seeming to pause for a breath. The talent and skill on display was deceptive and extraordinary. Rounding out the trio of early afternoon sets was local Chicago garage-rockers Ne-Hi. Led by songwriters and guitarists Jason Balla and Mikey Wells, Ne-Hi lived up to their growing buzz, with songs that veered from scuzzy guitar driven indie-rock to straight-up jangle pop. They were loud, abrasive, and wildly entertaining. Certainly a Sunday afternoon highlight.
After notable performances from Isaiah Rashad, Joey Purp, and Hamilton Leithauser, fans were presented with their first setback of the day. Festival organizers announced that Australian hip-hop collective The Avalanches, who would be playing their first-ever Chicago show later in the day, had cancelled due to a severe family illness. Despite being a massive letdown, the situation was understandable and left many festival attendees feeling equally sympathetic and disappointed. The bad juju hanging in the air following the announcement of the Avalanches cancellation apparently stuck around long enough to manifest as sound issues at the red stage that delayed Ride’s performance for almost 20 minutes. Eventually the kinks were worked out and the band took the stage. Singer/guitarist Mark Gardener addressed the crowd with a wry smile and apologized for the “sound gremlins.” Despite having spent 20 years away, Oxford England’s Ride sound every bit as good as they did during their shoegaze peak in the 90’s. Their set, that included songs from their recently released album, Weather Diaries, was a massive success and helped lessen the blow of the Avalanches cancellation. With the Avalanches off the schedule, festival organizers bumped up Jamila Woods’ set time and moved her performance from the intimate blue stage to the green stage, the largest stage at the festival. Despite a bit of a shaky start, the Chicago-based poet and R&B soul singer grew into the occasion and ultimately delivered a soulful yet fiery performance.
Following American Football closing out the blue stage, and with the sun well and truly setting, it was Solange who took to the green stage to close out the weekend. Solange’s performance was a grand affair featuring a sizeable backing band, a complete brass section, and well-choreographed dancers. Her set featured a solid mix of older hits mixed with a core of new songs from her recently released third album, A Seat at the Table. The sense of grandeur provided by Solange proved to be the perfect end to both the evening and the festival. Unfortunately, we were unable to capture Solange’s set due to photographic restrictions. However, you can check out photos from the performances we did catch below.