Pitchfork 2017

Festival season is almost over it’s time to breakdown the Pitchfork weekend. Friday featured amazing performances from Dawn Richard, Hiss Golden Messenger, Vince Staples, Thurston Moore, Danny Brown,  Kamaiyah, and LCD Soundsystem.

Vince Staples, Danny Brown, Dawn Richards and Kamaiyah brought the energy. Vince Staples (Long Beach, California) performed songs off his latest album Big Fish Theory. He also performed Ascension off the Gorillaz album Humanz. The crowd went crazy for this song. The aesthetics for his performance was a basic orange background. Vince Staples is a well known personality in the hip hop world. He is intense, outspoken and speaks the truth. This resonated through his whole performance.  

Danny Brown (Detroit) is a unique performer in the hip hop world. He walked out onto the stage in his black Carhart jacket and aviator sunglasses with the devil horns up while Black Sabbath was playing in the background. He proceeded to jump into his set. He commanded the stage walking from one side of the stage to the other like a linebacker looking for a sack. Each rhyme was delivered with his unique high pitch tone in his voice that every Danny Brown fan would recognize. The fans were given a performance to remember. As I was exiting the pit I noticed a mosh pit about to start. I noticed a twinkle in on fans eye before the beat dropped. There was a magic moment of Danny Brown and the moshpit came together in unicen like a Beethoven symphony.

Kamaiyah and Dawn brought a strong female presence to Fridays lineup. Kamaiyah (Oakland, California) was apart of the 2017 XXL freshman class. Hip Hop is a male dominated genre so to see her on the list was refreshing. She had a diverse crowd that knew all the words to her songs. Her energy was at level 100. Dawn former member of Danity Kane moved in unison with her backup dancers to the infectious rhythms of her music. At first, I was surprised by the crowd she drew. After her performance I saw why her fans were so passionate.


Saturday featured performances from  Mitski, George Clinton, Francis and the Lights, Madlib, PJ Harvey, and A Tribe Called Quest.

On Saturday the power of music was full force during Mitskis afternoon set. Mitski is a female Japanese American singer songwriter. In the pit as I was taking photos during her set I noticed a young woman crying tears of joy. She was overwhelmed by the beauty of the music and moment. Mitski was overwhelmed with emotion as well when she said “performing for large crowds was her dream and that she hoped that everyone in the crowds dream come true as well”. Later on I saw the young woman walking while I was eating my delicious food from Chicago Diner. We talked about why she was crying. She said “I really relate because she’s a young Japanese woman who makes beautiful music”. To me this hit close to home because when I was kid I didn’t see a lot latinos or latinas doing the things I thought were cool. For this generation social media has opened doors to discover like minded individuals from their backgrounds.

Hip Hop legend Madlib performed a DJ set for the ages. He played Stonesthrow Record and underground classics. This was one of the best bookings of this years Pitchfork music festival. Madlib has been producing hip hop classics for over 20 years. This was a gift to all the hip hop heads in Chicago.

Speaking of hip hop legends this really unknown group called A Tribe Called Quest closed the night. In all seriousness ATCQ have been a golden era staple to all hip hop fans. Their set did not disappoint. They had one microphone on stage for Phife Dawg who passed away in March of 2016. Anytime one of his verses came on the crowd rapped all the words. Q-Tip probably the most commercially successful individual of the living members was charismatic and energetic. His camo print jacket set the tone as if he was going into battle. His battle was to perform for an hour and a half. I had the pleasure of catching the last 30 minutes of their set from the VIP bleachers. To see a sea of people all in one place out of love for one group was magic. They closed the night with “Can I kick it”, “Bonita Applebum”, and “We the people”. Q-Tip made the crowd repeat “We are all one”. Saturday night we were all united for love and ATCQ.       

Sunday had amazing performances from Kevin Koval and the Young Chicago Authors, Derrick Carter, Isaiah Rashad, Joey Purp, Jamila Woods, and Solange.

Chicago was represented to the fullest on Sunday. Kevin Koval and The Young Chicago Authors started with an amazing showcase of amazing Chicago Poets. Derrick Carter spun a sublime set of House Music to kick off the day. Joey Purp and Jamila Woods represented the new movement of Chicago music. The highlight of the afternoon should’ve been Solange but Jamila Woods playing the Green stage stole the show.

Kevin Koval and The Young Chicago Authors started the day at 2:00 p.m. with a poetry showcase that featured poetry from Fatima Asghar writer of the emmy nominated Brown Girls Web Series. Her poetry spoke of the Muslim American experience. That theme seemed to resonate through the whole showcase. Jose Olivarez spoke of the Mexican American experience. Raych Jackson and Eve Ewing showcased poetry as well. They are both educators, poets and women of color.  Raych is a CPS third grade teacher and Eve is a professor at the University of Chicago.Their poetry resonated the experience of being an observant, educated women of color. Kevin Koval delivered a poem called molemen beat tapes about his love for Chicago and hip hop. Kevin Koval is a Chicago institution. All the poets showcased were amazing.

As I walking towards the blue stage to stand in line for the pit to shoot Jamila Woods. I had received a text prior to this that The Avalanches had cancelled their performance four before their scheduled performance. This was very disappointing. I saw my friend Darryl and he told me that she had been moved to the much larger green stage. As I walked towards the green stage I started to think how prophetic this moment was her because she is a well known artist on the brink of mainstream success. What better moment to showcase herself in front of a bigger audience. All the photographers were in the pit as the band was soundchecking you could tell there were nerves. They had to redo their soundcheck that they had completed probably an hour earlier. She eventually came out and ceased the moment. Jamila oozed confidence and beauty through her voice.

Women of color and minorities were represented this past weekend at Pitchfork. To me this was the true success of the weekend.