Day 2Jul 21, 2019
After having evaded sunburn and heat exhaustion from day one, it was time for another day at Pitchfork Festival. Starting off the afternoon, Japanese four-piece Chai delivered a performance unlike any other at the festival. They wore matching hot pink pants and played instruments painted the same shade. The set began with the single “CHOOSE GO!” off their latest album Punk. Their unique brand of the energetic, sugary pop translated perfectly in the festival setting. For the duration of their 45 minute long performance, Chai maintained their bubbly energy and synchronized dance moves. Their constant beaming smiles were contagious and soon after they began, the entire festival was bobbing their heads and smiling too. Before their last track, they adorned matching hooded jackets and danced in unison to a track that chanted “C-H-A-I,” over and over. This dance break was incredibly well received and met with a shower of applause. As they left the stage, they brought out a bright pink tub filled with water toys and tossed them out to the sweaty audience, a much needed gift in the 97 degree sun.
Following Chai were performances from Radio K favorites Cate Le Bon and Jay Som. Welsh singer Cate Le Bon enchanted the crowd with her quirky style of chamber pop. Much of her set was comprised of songs from her newest record Reward. Thematically, the album revolves around the joy of solitude so hearing the tracks in the crowded park felt like sharing in an intimate secret with Le Bon. Indie rock favorite Jay Som drew a considerable crowd to her performance. She played several songs off her upcoming album Anak Ko, including the two already released singles “Superbike,” and “Tenderness.” The enthusiastic sing along during the new songs reflected how highly anticipated new music from Jay Som has been.
Drifting towards the stage through a sea of bleached hair and cut off black jeans, it was easy to guess that Parquet Courts was about to play without glancing at the lineup. The texas garage rock band delivered a tight and energetic performance until about 30 minutes into their set they stopped and announced, “Looks like old man weather is cutting our set short so this is our last song, we’ll make it a good one.” Immediately, they burst into the high energy title track off their latest album, Wide Awake. The audience jumped along to the bouncy bass line and catchy shouted chorus. Before the track could even conclude, a robotic voice announced over top of the rock band “Due to forces beyond our control, Pitchfork Festival will be closing in 20 minutes. Please evacuate immediately.” This message was met with noisy complaints and confusion, the clouds were dark but not a single raindrop had fallen yet. Begrudgingly, people began filing out of the park. Within minutes, a sharp clap of thunder tore across the sky and rain began falling in torrential sheets.
The break in the day from the weather evacuation was an unexpected joy. After two days of sweltering heat and frantic schedules, the possibility of losing the rest of the day’s music served as a reminder of how special the festival is. An hour and a half later, the weather cleared up and the festival gates reopened. Immediately Stereolab took the stage. Their specific brand of strange delight matched the mood of the re-entering festival crowd perfectly. It was one of the group’s first performances following a decade long hiatus and plenty of people filing directly from the entrance gates to the stage audibly expressed gratitude to get to see the band play.
As the sun began to dip near the horizon, Belle and Sebastian took the stage to play the entirety of their 1996 album If You’re Feeling Sinister. From the very first track, the much loved “Stars of Track and Field,” it was evident how significant the album was to the attendees of the festival. The classic album has become a staple in the indie rock world over the past two decades and the memories that so many people have tied to those songs was evident as they sang along emphatically. Dozens of couples gazed at each other during the emotive “Fox in the Snow,” and the jaunty chorus of the title track “If You’re Feeling Sinister” was echoed enthusiastically. The encore showcased a different side of Belle and Sebastian’s musicality. Band leader Stuart Murdoch ditched his guitar and donned a fedora and the set took on a much more lighthearted tone. The encore began with the danceable “Party Line” which featured Murdoch playfully jumping around the stage, climbing atop instruments and engaging with the audience. During their final track, “The Blues Are Still Blue,” Murdoch made use of the catwalk that cut through the audience and performed much of the track from a platform in the center of the audience.
Closing out the night was a special 60th anniversary set from The Isley Brothers. The presence of the iconic group on the festival lineup was a pleasant surprise for many. Lead singer Ronald Isley acted as a sort of guide throughout the show, sharing stories and giving the crowd a slice of context to grasp on to. Throughout the set, there were many moving moments, with songs dedicated to the late Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Prince. At one point, someone in the crowd shouted, “This is church!” The sounds of The Isley Brothers have permeated music culture for the past six decades in a way few others have. Even for someone who had never heard the name “Isley” in their life, they provided an hour and a half of familiar music. From ubiquitous hits like, “Summer Breeze,” “Shout,” and “It’s Your Thing,” to guitar riffs that have since been sampled many times. According to whosampledwho.com, The Isley Brothers’ music has been sampled in over 800 songs ranging from Thundercat to Mac Miller to J Dilla. The gratitude of the smiling audience was palpable as the historic group shared their classic jams. Nearing the end of the set, guitarist Ernie Isley took an extended solo, flexing the guitar playing chops that have been honed and praised for so many years. He strummed chords with his teeth and breezed through complicated melodies behind his back, all met with the appropriate cheers and shouts from the awestruck crowd. The group concluded their set with “Shout,” complete with enthused jumping from the backup dancers on stage. With a gracious bow, the ensemble walked off for the night and the second day of the festival came to an end.