Dancing in the Heat: A Complete Look at Pitchfork Music Festival 2019

BY MERCY XIONG, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

PHOTOS BY MORGAN WINSTON

JPEGMAFIA photographed by Morgan Winston

2019 marked Pitchfork Music Festival’s 14th year in existence. This year, the festival celebrated with headliners Haim, Isley Brothers and Robyn. Festival attendees braved through the hot weather and a severe storm to hear some of the best music play.

DAY ONE

Rico Nasty (@riconasty)

Rico Nasty grinned from ear to ear as she walked on stage in a bright orange top and a long pink wig. This set marked one of Nasty’s first shows back in the US and she was ready to smoke a joint and rap. Although the hot weather stopped the charismatic rapper from performing at her best, it didn’t stop the crowd from moshing to the rapper’s hits. From “Trust Issues” to “Smack a Bitch,” the crowd rapped every word back to her.

Grapetooth (@grapetoothband)

There is never a dull moment with Grapetooth. The Chicago band is comprised of Twin Peaks’ Clay Frankel and Chris Bailoni. With their moms front and center in the crowd, the boys played a high energy set in the hot weather. They wasted no time to hype up the crowd as they started their performance with the fan-favorite “Violent.” Throughout the rest of the set, Grapetooth cranked out their danceable hits as Frankel screeched into the mic and Bailoni expressively played the keyboards.

Sky Ferreira (@skyferreira)

As one of the earlier performers, Sky Ferreira’s set was subjected to audio difficulties, such as her earpiece falling off and the sound cutting in and out during her performance. (It surely didn’t help that the singer suffers from stage fright and anxiety.) Almost halfway through the set Ferreira herself even said: “Everything that could’ve gone wrong has so far.” Even so, she braved through a set full of technical difficulties and sounded phenomenal doing so.  

Earl Sweatshirt (@soapmanwun)

The crowd was hyped to see Earl Sweatshirt roll out on stage and kept the energy high as the MC effortlessly flew through his expansive discography. He took time between a few songs to complain about the excessive heat, but continued to tear through his set with no trouble.

Pusha T (@kingpush)

As a frequent Kanye West collaborator and CEO of G.O.O.D. Music, Pusha T was welcomed to the stage with excitement and open arms. Fans were eager to hear his critically acclaimed album Daytona live. With an infectious smile, King Push opened his set with “If You Know You Know” and then dove into his older projects. From this charged performance, he made all spectators aware that he was — in fact — a talented rapper and left fans wanting more.

Soccer Mommy (@soccermommyband)

Sporting pigtails with sparkly barrettes and silver bike shorts, Soccer Mommy played her angsty bedroom rock music at the Blue Stage. Front and center was lead singer Sophie Allison, shredding on her guitar that was covered in Lisa Frank stickers. She performed an unreleased track, which turned out to be a real crowd pleaser, along with her other hits like “Clean” and “Scorpio Rising.”

Mavis Staples (@mavisstaples)

Gospel legend Mavis Staples returned to her hometown just to flex on all of them. Staples may have recently turned 80, but she still has more talent, energy and range than those who are much younger than her. As she danced and swung around on stage, Staples looked overjoyed to sing her songs to the P4K crowd.

Haim (@haimtheband)

Pitchfork was Haim’s first headlining festival set, so you know the three sisters had something special up their sleeves. One by one, the sisters walked on stage to perform a drumming sequence while red lights flooded the stage. Within the first few songs, they managed to play a number of fan-favorites off their first album Days are Gone. During the middle of the set, the band covered Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” and “I Don’t Want to Wait,” which was accompanied by a video of the late 90s sit-com Dawson’s Creek opening credits. There was no doubt the sisters played a dynamic set — Danielle shredded the guitar while Este played bass and Alana on guitar or keyboards. Their set was a perfect end to the first day.

DAY TWO

CHAI (@chaiofficialjpn)

Hailing all the way from Japan, CHAI definitely put on a show to remember. The all-female quartet walked on stage in matching pink and orange outfits and played their bouncy, punk jams. The happiness and enthusiasm that the group exuded was contagious — you couldn’t help but smile at them in support. If you weren’t a fan before, you are definitely one now.

Jay Som (@jaysomband)

If true love was defined by sharing juuls with another being, then consider the band members of Jay Som in love. The LA indie band played some of their older bedroom pop hits like “Baybee” and “The Bus Song” along with newer songs “Superbike” and “Tenderness” — while making sure to juul in between. Unfortunately, this dreamy set ended too soon by the graying clouds that caused festival goers to evacuate the park.

Parquet Courts (Parquet Courts)

Before their set was cut short due to weather concerns, Parquet Courts was absolutely killing it. The punk band churned out songs like “Total Football,” “Dust,” and the crowd favorite “Freebird II.” They delivered a high energy set and never sounded stale. This wasn’t their first Pitchfork set and we’re certainly hoping it won’t be their last.

Stereolab (@stereolabgroop)

As soon as the gates re-opened, fans flocked to the Red Stage to see Stereolab play. The French disco band reunited earlier this year and have been performing since. Donned in a rainbow dress, the poised lead vocalist Laetitia Sadier seemed unphased to the storm that happened earlier. They sounded fantastic and kept the audience dancing in the mud. 

Belle and Sebastian (@bellesglasgow)

Belle and Sebastian are seasoned vets at playing festivals shows. Fans of all ages and styles, gathered around to see the Scottish band play various melodies from their nine-album discography. There is no denying the warmth and charm their endearing tunes brought out, mesmerizing the audience. 

DAY THREE

black midi (@bmblackmidi)

If a baby head bangs to your music, your music most definitely rocks. The baby — wearing noise reduction headphones, of course — nearby, along with the rest of the crowd, jammed out to all the guitar riffs, distorted vocals, feral drumming and the many times frontman Geordie Greep sung the lyrics “She moves with a purpose.” In the short amount of time black midi have been a band, they have produced stimulating music and proved how exhilarating live music can be.

JPEGMAFIA (@jpegmafia)

JPEGMAFIA put on his best corduroys for his set, so you know the performance was going to be special. In classic JPEGMAFIA manner, the rapper DJ-ed his own set, queuing up his songs on his MacBook. He didn’t wait long to start moshing in the crowd to his own distorted beats and hyper-aggressive raps. Between songs Peggy took smoke breaks to which the supportive crowd cheered him on every time he took a drag. After watching this performance, it was proven that a JPEGMAFIA set never disappoints.

Clairo (@clairo)

The sun came out just in time for Clairo’s set. The young pop singer rose to internet fame after her song “Pretty Girl” when viral in 2017, which landed her a record deal. Although her performance was quite anticlimactic, her delicate voice sounded just as beautiful as her recordings. Even if you weren’t a fan, you could definitely bop along to her lo-fi bedroom pop hits.

Amen Dunes (@amendunes)

Back on the Blue Stage, Amen Dunes brought to life their 2018 album Freedom. The band is a project of lead vocalist Damon McMahon. McMahon’s gritty yet tender voice along with the guitar swirls created an ethereal soundscape fitting of the afternoon slot on the Blue Stage. It was phenomenal to see how the tracks off Freedom translated live.

Whitney (@whitneyband)

Hometown (Chicago) heroes Whitney took on the Green Stage before Charli XCX. They performed their hits “Polly” and “No Matter Where We Go” off of their 2016 album Light Upon the Lake, as well as new songs in anticipation for their next album. A definite highlight of the set was the star-studded singalong rendition of “Golden Days” featuring Snail Mail, CHAI, Soccer Mommy and many others.

Charli XCX (@charli_xcx)

Charli XCX opened her set with “Track 10” and needed no more than her backing track, two huge yellow cubes and a big banner that spelled out her name. The popstar’s energy was unmatched as she bounced all around the stage. From a cover of “Wannabe” by Spice Girls, to “I Love It,” to her most recent single “Gone,” there was a track for every Charli XCX fan to rave with. Towards the end of the set, she brought out Chicago rapper Cupcakke for “Lip Gloss,” acting as the perfect warm up for Robyn.

Robyn (@robynkonichiwa)

Robyn closed out the festival with what seems to be a huge dance party. Seriously, nobody puts on a show like the Swedish popstar. She thrashed and danced all over the stage and often urged the audience to sing her famous hooks with her (which they happily complied, especially me). Between the various costume changes to the choreographed routines, Robyn was the pop hero this weekend needed. 

Keep up with us as we continue to cover more music on Instagram @emmiemagazine!

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