Experiencing Pitchfork Music Festival [REVIEW]

Interview by Sofia Wheelock / Photos by: Roman Sobus

Pitchfork has been held in Chicago since 2006 and since then, it has drawn thousands from all across the country each year to impress and amaze music lovers with diverse lineups and exciting headliners. The festival was cancelled for 2020 due to the global pandemic, but made a comeback in 2021. Some COVID-19 safety guidelines were still in place this year, including being up to date with vaccinations. Masks were optional but attendees were encouraged to have one on hand.

The headliners this year included, The National, Mitski, and The Roots and although Pitchfork is primarily known for hosting alternative rock, electronic, and hip-hop performers, it does it’s best to create a space full of variety to cater to every kind of music lover.

When I arrived on Saturday, the first artist to greet me was CupcakKe. If you have heard her music before, then you probably have some kind of idea of how funny it was to see a crowd of hundreds of people singing along with her. She is an incredibly talented rapper and performer and is mainly known for her hyper-sexualized lyrics, which have given the rap genre a refreshing boldness. I had a blast at her set, singing along and giggling at those who were screaming her own brazen lyrics right back at her.

After being blessed by the music of CupcakKe, I headed over to see The Linda Linda’s. If you are a fan of the Riot Grrrl genre, then you should definitely check out their music. And though their music sounds grungy, their lyrics are about everyday things like their pets! They certainly had a lot of fun playing with each other onstage and expressed their gratitude for being able to perform at such a large festival. With their oldest member being seventeen and their youngest being eleven, you can probably imagine how impressed the audience was when they started to play.

After these two sets, I headed over to the vinyl and poster fair, where I picked up some amazing items from Nearl Says’, Feeltrip and the Numero records booths. After some light shopping, I picked up a delicious slice of deep dish Pizza from Connie’s stand.

Once I headed back toward the stages, I caught Magdalena Bay’s performance. I truly cannot express how much I enjoyed their show. I had never heard their music before I went to Pitchfork, but I am so glad that I discovered them. They have truly brought the vibe of 80s music into this era and have morphed it into something new and refreshing. From their funky outfits to their synth-pop sound, I could not find anything that I truly disliked about them. They were amazing and I cannot wait to listen to more of their music.

Next up was Lucy Dacus, whom I have been a huge fan of for a while now. Her performance was truly incredible and she put every ounce of her heart and soul into the music. One of her songs literally made me cry. Every single person in the audience was fully engaged with the show and were extremely supportive of Dacus. One of the things that I enjoy most about her music is her ability to tell a full story through her songwriting. She can paint a clear and detailed image in your head about love, loss, and heartbreak with just a three minute song.

Before Dacus finished serenading us with her gut-wrenchingly beautiful melodies, people had already started shoving through the crowd to get good spots for Mitski. While hundreds of us were staking out spots near the front of the stage, many more headed over to the red stage to see Japanese Breakfast.

Their performance was absolutely amazing. Though I did not get a great view of the show because I was holding my spot for Mitski, I viewed it from one of the large screens and I absolutely loved their set. I have always been a huge fan of alternative pop, so I am obviously a big fan of Japanese Breakfast. The energy was electric from what I could see from afar and the band seemed to be truly enjoying themselves while performing. It’s always nice to see a group that loves what they do.

After playing for about an hour, they finished up and left the rest of the festival to migrate towards the green stage for the headliner of the night.

Mitski came out onto the stage and the audience bursted all at once. Screaming fans pushed and shoved each other to try and get a better look at one of the most beloved indie artists of the decade. I think that what I loved most about Mitski was her stage presence. Her movements painted the words that she was singing with grace and clarity. Her fanbase is definitely one of the strongest out there today and they really pulled through for this concert. Every single audience member was either screaming nonsense out of pure joy and excitement or singing along with Mitski as loud as they could.

After she finished, I left the festival feeling content. And I could not wait to do it all over again.

I arrived at the grounds the next day and the first artist I had the pleasure of seeing was Pink Siifu. I had never heard his music before, but I can say that I am definitely a fan now. He had so much energy onstage and seemed to love what he was doing more than anything in the world. And his turnout was pretty great for being the first act to perform on Sunday. He had a bunch of his friends come onstage to rap and play with him and he seemed to be having a lot of fun. It was like the audience wasn’t even there. He was just having fun and making music with the people he loves.

Next up, I got to see L’Rainn. I had never heard of her either, but I fell in love with her music. Her vibe is extremely atmospheric and she had such a beautiful voice. Before she began playing, she had the entire audience take a collective deep breath with her. When she began to play, everyone began to move and sway. Everyone seemed so relaxed while she was performing. If I could describe her music using only a couple of words, I would say that it is experimental and ethereal. Listening to her is like floating up into space with no fear or not making in back down to the ground.

Kaina was up next and I have loved her music for a while. She is a Chicago native and was so happy to be back in her hometown. Her stage presence was extremely powerful and the audience absolutely fell in love with her by the time she was done performing. She engaged them and got them to sing and dance, even if they weren’t familiar with her music. She is definitely one of my favorite contemporary R&B artists and I hope to see her perform again soon.

Live music is one of my favorite things in the world. It has always brought me immense joy and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend Pitchfork this year. I highly recommend checking out this festival, not only for the music, the food, and the art fair, but also because it is a wonderful experience in which you can allow your love of music to flourish and thrive.

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Pitchfork Music Festival:

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Live Photos From Pitchfork Music Festival