The late summer time solar beat down on these lined to enter Pitchfork Music Competition 2021 for the primary time in over two years, creating a way of anticipation not solely to enter the gates, however to discover a spot to take shelter from the unusually heat September afternoon. As quickly because the doorways opened, any ideas of discomfort have been immediately curbed by the joy of the return of the veteran indie pageant.
In the course of the three-day occasion, hundreds of music lovers have been reminded of the collective euphoria of what the pandemic made us sorely miss; the cathartic, joyous, and albeit at instances frustratingly claustrophobic expertise of witnessing your favourite band carry out to a crowd of equally-dedicated followers. And with extra band tees than designer outfits seen on the occasion coupled with headliners Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent, and Erykah Badu, music continues to be on the forefront of the Chicago pageant.
Pitchfork Music Competition’s fifteenth iteration came about over the weekend of September 10-12. Whereas the canceled 2020 occasion was slated to be their anniversary celebration, this yr was nonetheless made particular. The annual Chicago pageant takes place in West Loop’s Union Park and has at all times made music their prime precedence. This yr was no totally different, with the pageant being one of many solely within the nation to obtain 50/50 gender equality of their lineup. For a band, enjoying at Pitchfork additionally acts as a caliber for “making it” in indie music, a sentiment early afternoon bands would usually comment on stage. Bartees Unusual was one of many first to carry out on Saturday. Drawing an impressively-sized crowd for an early spot, Unusual introduced it had at all times been a dream of his to play the pageant, a sense echoed by Chicago’s Divino Niño, who famous they’ve aspired to take the stage at Pitchfork for over a decade.
The weekend was jam-packed with wonderful performances from Faye Webster to Caroline Polachek. However Danny Brown’s Sunday set completely encapsulated the expertise of returning to a large-scale pageant after being confined in our properties for a yr. He was, as all of us have been, a little bit rusty. Brown little doubt placed on a wildly enjoyable present, however as a result of he hadn’t carried out shortly, there have been instances he would cease his set after forgetting his lyrics. He joked that whereas his followers could have sat round in quarantine listening to his songs, if he had achieved the identical we should always “name a therapist.” Regardless of the hiccups, the rapper always reminded the group how overjoyed he was to be there, proving that enduring discomfort was well-worth the expertise.
And endure discomfort we did. After being round not more than a handful of individuals at a time for over a yr, getting thrown right into a tightly-packed pageant filled with hundreds was jarring to say the least. Pleasure concerning the thought of spending three days seeing reside music shrouded the truth that it might additionally imply three days of utilizing ugly transportable loos at a time once we’re always reminded of the hazard of germs. The dirt-covered grounds of Union Park coupled with a relentless stampede of individuals lent itself to an incessant layer of lingering brown mud, turning unfortunate pageant goers’ white t-shirts to a mousy brown within the matter of some minutes. Traces for the water bottle refill stations have been by no means lower than quarter-hour lengthy, and the small handful of meals distributors offering meals to all the pageant created such lengthy wait instances that going with out dinner was not unusual.
However the lack of creature comforts apart, the dusty, sweltering, three-day occasion was a reminder of the connective energy of reside music — and proved what individuals will endure for the collective pleasure of seeing their favourite bands on stage. Although we have been all coated in a skinny layer of dust, individuals nonetheless concurrently thrashed to Dogleg and Oso Oso, danced to Kelly Lee Owens and Yaeji, swooned at Jamila Woods and Erykah Badu, cried at Massive Thief and Waxhahatchee, and have been surprised by rock goddesses St. Vincent and Kim Gordon.
Pitchfork’s lineup is curated with the web site’s editorial protection in thoughts, however though the publication now calls NYC its dwelling, Pitchfork Music Competition continues to be a Chicago occasion through-and-through. Ubiquitous Chicago beer firm Goose Island cleverly turned a CTA practice automobile right into a walk-up bar, and even collaborated with Faye Webster for a peach-flavored lager impressed by her Higher Distractions album. Native radio station Chirp FM hosted a file truthful inviting native file shops and indie labels to promote vinyl and merchandise. A bit of the grounds have been even devoted to native and nationwide poster artists, who displayed their live performance poster artwork and conversed about their favourite indie bands.
The one point out of Pitchfork’s web site itself got here within the type of a tongue-in-cheek remark throughout St. Vincent’s show-stopping headlining efficiency impressed by the ‘70s, flower youngster world of her Daddy’s Residence album. A ringing classic telephone was answered by St. Vincent on stage, who pretended she was speaking to her sister on the opposite line. The singer mentioned she was at Pitchfork, then held the telephone as much as the group so the opposite line might hear the shouts of hundreds watching her set. St. Vincent advised the group that their screams have been solely “rated a 6.7,” and might be higher, a brazen nod to the rating Pitchfork rated her Daddy’s Residence album.
After a full weekend of unbelievable music, Erykah Badu’s magnificent voice serenaded Pitchfork Music Competition 2021 to a cathartic shut. As soon as the doorways had formally shut, attendees left Union Park exhausted however nonetheless buzzing from the expertise. Now left with sore toes and a digital camera roll filled with treasured reminiscences, followers are already anticipating subsequent yr’s occasion — so long as they keep in mind to carry further hand sanitizer.
Try Uproxx’s full 2021 pageant protection right here.