Day 3Jul 23, 2019
As we approached the festival grounds, we could feel the intense bass from Black Midi’s performance. The UK based band elicited mixed reactions from the crowd. The first few rows of people moshed in the muddy field and screamed along to the choruses while those further out seemed more perplexed by the abrasive stylings of the band. Based on the deliberately elusive persona that Black Midi has maintained, I think they liked it that way. Following Black Midi was the similarly aggressive rapper JPEGMAFIA. Balancing raw performance and easygoing charisma, he had the audience laughing together between the bouts of furious moshing.
After the intensity of those first two acts, the day had a subtle shift in energy. Day three drew a different audience than the first two days of the festival. With pop stars Charli XCX and Robyn playing in the evening, people dressed for the occasion. A clique of people dressed in hot pink cowboy outfits stood alongside some in head to toe sequins. The amount of glitter per capita was higher than I had ever seen at Pitchfork. This crowd was especially receptive to the performance of 20 year old bedroom pop artist Clairo. Her performance was riddled with sweet and sincere “Thank you”s and “I couldn’t do it without you”s to her rapidly growing fan base. When Clairo was in Minneapolis last spring she played for a crowd of 200 and as of Pitchfork she has one million followers on Instagram. She preceded playing her breakout single “Pretty Girl,” by humbling saying, “Now, here’s one of the songs you came for.” Much of her set was comprised of songs from her upcoming album Immunity, including the lead singles “Bags,” and “Closer to You.”
Not long after this, Snail Mail took the stage on the smallest of the three stages but still drew an equally large crowd. Because of the weather, it was only fitting she played “Heat Wave” for her opening song. Her stunning vocals were frequently overpowered by the crowd passionately singing and screaming along. She kept saying how nerve-wracking it was to play for a crowd so large and so excited to see her play. She played the majority of her album “Lush” and on the second to last song, when everyone heard the guitar riff of her most popular song, “Pristine”, you could hear a multitude of people confessing their likeliness of crying within the next few minutes. To no surprise, by the chorus, everyone in the crowd was emotional, many with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces. For the final song, Lindsey Jordan announced she was going to bring a very good friend of hers out to join her. Clairo walked out onto the stage and sure enough, the crowd burst with excitement and roaring screams. Their duet of “Speaking Terms” was filled with lots of laughter and giggles with the occasional breaks for some playful dancing. The two 20-year-olds’ performance of this song reflected the comfort and innocence of two best friends dancing around in their living room simply enjoying one another's company. It was the perfect set up for the excitement of the final hours of Pitchfork ahead.
Pop singer Charli XCX fits in a unique niche in the music community. First popularized for singing the hook on Iggy Azaelea’s “Fancy,” and for her own chart topping single “Boom Clap,” Charli has amassed a cult like following. Her fan base has as much in common with the indie music fans that Pitchfork Festival draws as it does with Top 40 fans. This uniqueness cultivates a certain sort of enthusiasm that was unlike that of any other performer over the weekend. From the second she emerged onto the stage in hot pants and designer sunglasses the crowd was shrieking. Not always along to the songs, or in customary concert cheers but more so elated screams for every dance move, sly smile, and catchy chorus that Charli delivered. A particularly fanatical moment came when she played her 2016 song “Vroom Vroom.” The crowd emitted a palpable frantic energy and people pushed their way around like a metal show. Each “vroom vroom” and “beep beep” from Charli was echoed from the crowd at twice the volume. Similar energy was maintained as the set went on, throughout songs like the new singles “Blame It On Your Love,” and “Gone,” as well as during fan favorite singles like “Focus.” Another highlight of Charli’s performance came when she was joined by Chicago based rapper Cupcakke to perform the track “Lipgloss” together.
As the sun set, Swedish pop star Robyn took the stage in her headlining slot. The stage was filled with a dreamy landscape of white gauze and musicians draped in a similar textile. Robyn exuded the measured power of a well seasoned performer. Her stage banter was limited, but towards the end of her set she took a moment to acknowledge that “much of [her] favorite music comes from Chicago.” Robyn’s unique brand of extra-danceable pop blended with elements of house makes for a timeless combination that had every attendee staying until the bitter end of the festival. Pitchfork came to a close with Robyn’s classic lovelorn anthem “Call Your Girlfriend.” Easily one of the most joyous moments of the entire festivals came when the crowds danced about the field to shout along to one of the most memorable pop songs of the decade.