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Pitchfork Festival: What you need to know about day 3

On the final day of the annual Pitchfork Festival the nod towards the Chicago hip-hop scene was on full display. The Chicago Sun-Times’ writers Digital editor Brandon Wall (BW), Sun-Times reporter Tina Sfondeles (TS) and Pioneer Press editor Ben Meyerson (BM) sent their dispatches from the grounds of Union Park.

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The music

Speedy Ortiz

“We’re Speedy Ortiz. Thanks for waking up early even though you drank last night.”

And like that, Sunday’s lineup kicked off with the mopey garage rock of Speedy Ortiz. Singer Sadie Dupuis led the crowd in not-so-fond remembrance of arrested adolescence through the band’s catalog of angsty lyrics and starved guitar chords.

Even though it was early in the day, even though it was a little warmer than Friday or Saturday, even though the crowd may have stayed out a little too late the night before, Speedy Ortiz captivated the audience with ease. It was no wonder the band’s 2013 album Major Arcana was named one of Pitchfork’s 50 best of the year. —BW

Take grungy “Slanted and Enchanted”-era Pavement, replace Stephen Malkmus with a ladysinger, and boom — you’ve got Speedy Ortiz. There wasn’t a large crowd in the park as music kicked off at 1 p.m., but folks who were there seemed more interested in Speedy Ortiz, even though the band was playing on the smaller Green Stage. Mutual Benefit had one of the main stages for their mellow tunes, but the crowd seemed smaller. —BM

DIIV

DIIV’s driving, atmospheric brand of surf rock would have been nice for driving along the California coastline — it was fine for a Sunday afternoon, though, too. A little too sleepy for this early in the day, though. I’m trying to get moving here!

 

Perfect Pussy

Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves can scream with the best of the hardcore punk bands. Her band worked the crowd into a frenzy, prompting a mosh pit and plenty of crowd surfing. —BM

“Bury me like this.” – Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy after their crazy set on the Blue Stage #pitchforkfest

Deafheaven

Nothing like some screaming goth rock to wake you up! Deafheaven takes the stage. #pitchforkfest

Walking into Pitchfork on day three requires a bit of a push. Energy bar or drink? Caffeine? Deafheaven seemed to do the trick, headbanging their angst out to a crowd craving the goth metal they had missed all weekend. George Clarke likes to scream, really loud, and then make gestures to the crowd, like all his saliva is coming out and then back in. But the crowd loved the grandstanding, so it was a win for the man dressed in black. —TS

Earl Sweatshirt

Earl Sweatshirt takes the Red Stage #pitchforkfest

The rapper started his set by promising he was going to play a song we all knew — which, of course, turned out to be Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’” Accurate.

I figured Earl was small, based on photos I’d seen of him before, but on stage, he looks tiny. Hard to imagine such strong lyrics coming out of a body like that.

Earl Sweatshirt gets the #pitchforkfest crowd to go “full World Cup.” —BM


Chicago’s drill scene represented

Many of this year’s rap acts, from Pusha T to Earl Sweatshirt, featured at least a few bars of Chicago drill music. There were the obligatory beats from Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like,” but there were also a few deeper Keef cuts in the mix and even a few lines from Sasha Go Hard (I think) during Earl Sweatshirt’s outro. —BW

Dum Dum Girls
Dum Dum Girls had slight technical issues which delayed their set by about 10 minutes. Perhaps they were annoyed, but there wasn’t much crowd interaction when they finally started. The girls in back rocked out with their harmonies, but never really got the crowd going. Their songs sounded just as they do on their albums. And I get why festival organizers timed the band at the same time as Earl Sweatshirt. It was a good alternative to those not quite into hip hop. —TS

Schoolboy Q

A crowd surfer rides over the crowd as Schoolboy Q performs at the Pitchfork Music Festival on Sunday, July 20, 2014 in Union Park.| Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media

Real Estate

The New Jersey boys sound like they’re from the West Coast. California smooth surfer rock that sounds breezy. A perfect complement to the beautiful Sunday weather. Kids danced in circles, people took breaks and laid out on blankets and others just calmly listened to the tunes. Real Estate sounds like the band you want to take with you on vacation. —TS

Slowdrive | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media

Slowdrive | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media

Slow Dive Slowdive just after finishing their set on the Green Stage #pitchforkfest Slow Dive’s been around for awhile, and I’m guessing not all of the young kids knew who they were, but they still listened in awe as the band laid out melodic rock, at times purely instrumental. They’re Explosions in the Sky, before the band existed. And singer Rachel Goswell’s voice fit right in, lending a boost of emotion to their music. I saw three people closing their eyes, maybe meditating, and facing the opposite side of the stage during their set. Maybe it’s their relaxation music? —TS

Grimes | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media

Grimes

Well, Grimes is a beautiful young blonde, and she’s very into her music. She was probably the kid who danced to every pop hit through the years. About three songs in, she introduced two “Fly Girl”- looking dancers, sporting both sports bras and gym shoes. Some in the crowd didn’t quite get the 26-year-old electronic-experimental artist, and moved a bit closer to the adjacent stage to stake a spot for headliner Kendrick Lamar. But those who stayed had fun, starting impromptu dance parties. Her biggest hit “Genesis,” was an energetic finale to an honest performance by a young artist clearly thrilled to be performing at Pitchfork. —TS

I’ll admit to walking into Grimes totally blind. I knew the name, and I’d heard some chatter that she was worth seeing, but I didn’t know what to expect. Well, Claire Boucher did not disappoint with her EDM-esque jams. Her balancing act between dancing and tweaking her keyboards was both well-done and amusing at the same time. The difference between her on-stage persona and her inter-song banter was stark and almost shocking. She performed with extreme confidence and sexiness, but when the music stopped and she spoke to the crowd directly, her voice sounded like it had been stolen from another person — mouselike, with a lisp, it was distinctive.

The drone! The drone!
Blink, and you missed it.

For no more than a minute or two during Grimes’ set, a drone was very clearly flying over Union Park. Naturally, any attempt at photography or video left it looking like a blurry UFO in the distance.

The footage will inevitably surface on Reddit or Twitter in the days to come, but until it does, here’s what we turned up:

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media

Kendrick Lamar was 21 minutes late, so fans listened to hip hop as they waited. The video screen panned on a young girl waiting in the front row. Perhaps they thought she’d see herself on the screen and wave, or even smile. Instead she gave a sad look. Perhaps she cheered up when Lamar took the stage. The Compton, Calif. star was a ball of energy, repeatedly asking the crowd to “put one hand, then the other,” and “wave.” Dozens of local fans stood outside the Ashland exit, listening to Lamar headline the giant park. It was a sweet moment to see Kendrick Lamar fans, some of whom might not have been able to afford the hefty ticket to see one of their favorite artists. —TS

Kendrick Lamar closing out #pitchforkfest

Kendrick Lamar, 2012: An underappreciated artist relegated to the blue stage. His set was standard rapper-and-a-DJ fair. Afterwards, people seemed as interested in the fact that Lady Gaga was in attendance as the show itself.

Crowd gathers outside #pitchforkfest exit on Ashland to watch Kendrick Lamar. Free show for them.

Kendrick Lamar, 2014: Backed by an arena rock band that seamlessly transitioned between heavier metal beats and smooth jazz riffs, Kendrick had the crowd’s rapt attention as Pitchfork dwindled into Sunday night. It was a performance worth lining up along Ashland Avenue to see. —BW

Festival fashion

Nile Richardson, 17, of Bronzeville dons a Superman shirt, shorts, tights and Air Jordans at #pitchforkfest. —TS

@pitchforkmedia Music Festival 2014. Photo: @drewanthonysmith #chicago #fashion #style #pitchforkmusicfestival

@pitchforkmedia Music Festival 2014. Photo: @drewanthonysmith #chicago #style #fashion #pitchforkmusicfestival

@pitchforkmedia Music Festival 2014. Photo: @drewanthonysmith #chicago #fashion #style #pitchforkmusicfestival

It’s day 3 of @pitchforkfest. Let’s do this! @nosmallplanschi @parcerum

Leslie Baum, 42, of Logan Square and Jen Beeman, 32, of East Village (@grainlinestudio) wearing some cool blue prints at #pitchforkfest Sunday.

The scene

Heavy poetry

You don’t go to many poetry readings where a metal band is blasting in the background, but that didn’t bother poet Zachary Schomburg, 37, of Portland.

In fact, Schomburg loved reading from his book “Scary, No Scary” at the Pitchfork Music Festival’s new Book Fort tent as Deafheaven played across the field at Union Park.

“This is exactly what needs to happen in poetry, bringing people to events like this to show how similar poetry can be to a song like this,” he said. “In fact, I wrote some of this poetry listening to these bands. So I want to make people feel like this.”

Schomburg’s currently driving across the country in a van on a 43-day reading tour, sleeping on friends’ futons and in Walmart parking lots. All the money he makes from selling books goes toward keeping gas in the van, he said, but that’s OK.

“I feel alive doing it,” he said. “It’s so important to do. I get to see the poetry scenes … in every little town and every little city.” —BM

Goodbye, Pitchfork. Until next year.