Pitchfork Music Festival faced some tough challenges this year, with unpredictable weather over the weekend of July 15-17. Held in Union Park annually, this gathering to hear a multitude of types of music usually is packed; however, some of the downpours kept festivalgoers away. This left plenty of room early on July 15 to explore the grounds.
The Renegade Craft Fair, beside CHIRP's Record Fair, had shoppers dry under the tents and snapping up Kate Bush records like there was no tomorrowpossibly thanks to her resurgence through the show Stranger Things. Vendor booths promoted everything from animal rescue to Illinois Women in Cannabis. Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Monster Energy and Perrier all gave free samples.
Food was sold for the ravenous revelers by local Chicago restaurants such as Billy Goat Tavern and Beat Kitchen, among others.
It was difficult to find LGBTQ+ musicians in this year's Pitchfork Music Festival acts, but the crowds that turned up made up for the lack of performers. Fans were every color and identity in the rainbow, and many lined up in front of the barricades to support their favorite artists and cheer them on.
July 15 was full of Black girl magic thanks to a curated lineup of women musicians with their own distinct styles and messages.
Tierra Whack joked constantly about the rain and gave birthday shoutouts, mispronouncing the names to get the crowds going. Spectators fell for her act again and again while screaming out names. Her music was solid and Whack chose to use a DJ instead of a band to back her vocals.
Dawn Richard, of Danity Kane fame, brought the backup dancers that Whack needed with a Destiny's Child-type of female formation and silver space costumes. Her Rapunzel-length weave was a highlight to see but remained awkward with some of the planned choreography. She covered No Doubt's "Don't Speak," The Cranberries' "Zombie" and Sade's "Pearls."
New Yorker Amber Mark gave a more casual and quiet vibe with R&B-tinged tracks on her set on the Blue Stage. She continued the cover song trend set by Richard with Sisqo's "Thong Song" and had everyone under the trees dancing.
The first night closed with The National on the Green Stage, drawing in a large number of spectators who paid no mind to the sporadic rainfall that plagued the festival's first day.
July 16 had festivalgoers waking up to mud and gloomy skies, but that didn't stop them from enjoying CupcakKe's raunchy set, fresh from her recent appearance at Chicago Pride Fest.
Japanese Breakfast's popularity continues to grow shown by a later set time on the Red Stage. Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy joined them onstage to sing "Jesus, Etc."
Japanese singer-songwriter closed Saturday evening with a dramatic performance.
The last day had more overcast weather and the band Badbadnotgood had to cancel because of a COVID outbreak within its team. Toro y Moi pepped things up with his eclectic sounds and hip-hop band The Roots ended the festival that evening.
Pitchfork Music Festival continues to be an outdoor celebration for music lovers to discover underground artists and witness the results of their creativity. Independent music doesn't appear to be waning in popularity anytime soon in an industry as unpredictable as Chicago's climate.
Stay tuned to PitchforMusicFestival.com for updates on the planned festivities for 2023.