The Best of P4kFest: HAIM, Charli XCX, Robyn, & CHAI

PHOTOS BY MORGAN WINSTON

It seems that everyone we’ve talked to agrees on one thing: the 2019 Pitchfork Music Festival lineup was one of the most impressive we’ve seen. In an attempt to relive the wildly undeniable and unsurpassed level of energy that emanated from Union Park under the hot sun in mid-July, we’ve (finally) solidified our best of the fest.

HAIM (@haimtheband)

Danielle Haim performs at Pitchfork 2019.

HAIM’s headlining set last weekend was indescribable (but I’m going to try to describe it anyway). Alana, Danielle, and Este walked out to greet the sun-soaked crowd, cameras following their slow approach. Starting with a drum solo that lead into the band’s 2013 hit “Falling,” they immediately held the audience’s full attention. The power that emanated from these three talented sisters within the first few minutes set the tone for the rest of the night.

Amidst dramatic red lighting and guitar solos, HAIM continued through the next few songs in a blur, with “My Song 5” cutting through the pop-heavy setlist. HAIM’s ability to switch between the lighter and darker elements of pop rock is what makes their live show a sight to be seen — and heard. Despite only having two albums of material to pull from, HAIM delivered a unique and varied performance, breaking the seriousness with two Paula Cole covers mid-set, complete with clips from the late 90s sit-com Dawson’s Creek title sequence.

This set makes EMMIE’s top four because it surpassed our expectations. If you’re able to book a headlining slot at Pitchfork, you’re expected to put on a great show. HAIM’s show wasn’t just great, it was transcendent. They connected with the audience, songs flowed effortlessly into one another and — we will never forget — Danielle shredded through one guitar solo after another. This is one show I’ll be gushing about for the rest of my life.

— Morgan Winston

Charli XCX (@charli_xcx)

Charli XCX performs at Pitchfork 2019.

Charli XCX really is that bitch, declaring herself one of the top fifteen pop stars in the world (which she rightfully deserves). The British pop star is known for innovating and pushing pop music boundaries whether that’s done through featuring up-and-coming artists or the intricate production on each of her songs. 

Charli didn’t need much to perform —  just her, a backing track, and her number one angels. To no one’s surprise, the crowd was filled with diehard Charli stans. They descended into a glorious, hot and sweaty mess every time Charli sang a new song, screaming every lyric back to her. As if the show couldn’t get better, Charli was joined by Chicago rapper Cupcakke for a surprise performance of “Lipgloss” for part of her finale. 

Charli’s high-energy set did not go unnoticed. All her hard-hitting beats played amazing in a live setting, with her fans eating up every second of it. Her show hit pure euphoria.

— Mercy Xiong

Robyn (@robynkonichiwa)

Robyn performs at Pitchfork 2019.

As soon as Robyn appeared onstage, she took over the festival. From her very first note to her final song, it was her world and we were just living in it. With one Pitchfork performance already under her belt, it was expected that the seasoned popstar would set a new standard to this years set.

Unlike any of the other sets that weekend, Robyn’s stage had quite an intricate setup. The stage was draped with flowing white curtains while the singer was backed by a live band. Her sound was monstrous and had every synth sound and drum beat echoing through Union Park and beyond. Perhaps one of the most powerful moments of the night was when the Swedish popstar cut the music for one of her biggest hits “Dancing On My Own” as the chorus started to ramp up. She held out her mic for the crowd to sing, which they did in a unified choir. No matter who you are or what you were doing at that moment, if you knew the lyrics to the pop anthem, you were singing along. 

Between the wardrobe changes, heavenly voice, pop bangers, and choreographed routines, we couldn’t have asked Robyn for anything more. The artist was performing again after a near-decade hiatus and somehow managed to absolutely captivate the whole festival. 

— Mercy Xiong

CHAI (@chaiofficialjpn)

CHAI band performs at Pitchfork 2019.

If you haven’t heard about CHAI by now, it’s about time you get yourself familiar with their work. The Japanese punk band have been making waves in the music industry for the past two years and they undoubtedly lived up to the hype. 

One look at CHAI and you’re instantaneously charmed by their stage presence. They’re bright and colorful. Their energy is infectious, with their sound being a concoction of garage rock, bouncy pop beats and lots of synths. Although the majority of their songs are in Japanese, CHAI unapologetically champions individualism and self-empowerment through their lyrics. 

If the P4K crowd needed more reasons to love them, CHAI is redefining what it means to be “kawaii,” the Japanese term meaning cute. Halfway through the set, lead singer Mana paused to explain the band’s focus on “neo-kawaii,” a term heard in one of their songs “N.E.O.” She describes it as embracing and loving your own flaws that you are born with. The empowering messages not-so hidden in their songs resonates with audiences well beyond their home country.

— Mercy Xiong

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

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