Recap: Pitchfork Music Festival (Friday)

*Note: the below discussion does not reflect the opinions of all WNUR members. This is only one DJ’s recap of the festival. “We” does not refer to all present WNUR members; WNUR members did not see all of the same performances.

The sun hauled itself into the sky with a vengeance on Friday morning of Pitchfork weekend, bringing with it a thick humidity that signaled the first real day of Chicago summer. The thousands who streamed into Union Park late Friday afternoon happily endured muggy air and relentless heat over the forecast’s predicted weekend-long thunderstorms (which, as it turned out, appeared in full force for a brief but perilous hour on Saturday afternoon). Friday’s mellow lineup and shorter set list–presumably designed to accommodate the work schedules of Pitchfork’s young professional demographic–provided a pleasant relief from the day’s unexpected high temperatures, gently easing festival-goers into the long weekend.

Entrance lines were far inexcusably long but moved quickly as attendees trickled in from the Green line. We arrived just after 4pm to catch ILoveMakonnen for our first set of the festival. We were skeptical from the start, and Makonnen met our expectations by giving one of the less memorable performances of the weekend. Crowd teasers were scattered between indistinguishable crooning; Makonnen pulled the all-too-predictable move of playing his hit, “Tuesday,” last (after pulling the also-predictable move of pretending to start playing it two other times during his set). The highlight was easily “I Don’t Sell Molly No More”–and though it’s up for debate whether he actually performed that song better or we just loved the song to begin with, Makonnen’s most sonically unique production was a refreshing break in an otherwise monotonous set.

We dashed off to Steve Gunn–whose performance I had missed at Big Ears–before Makonnen’s set ended, and prepared ourselves for a subsequently more rock-oriented evening. I wished we were able to give Steve the time he deserved as we stage-hopped to Red for Mac DeMarco, whose physical build had grown in proportion to his fan base. I barely recognized the burly singer–a far cry from the skinny 22-year-old on the cover of 2. I could hardly see him over the vast crowd anyway, but his music proved perfect (as ever) for sunset on a summer Friday.

Friday on the whole proved somewhat unsatisfying in its length and scheduling. We had previously agreed that we thought the first day hosted the least interesting lineup of the weekend, and numerous overlapping time slots made it difficult to experience (and thus make a proper assessment of) any full performance. Our small squad–which did not consist of all WNUR members present at the festival–drifted to the Green stage and sat in the grass, disappointed that we missed the better half of Mac DeMarco’s set. I half-heartedly engaged in Panda Bear’s performance amidst our dialogue; my interest was driven more by nostalgic curiosity than genuine enjoyment. He sold out every show I wanted to go to in high school, yet I was not impressed. I wondered whether my musical taste had changed that drastically or Panda Bear’s music had not changed (read: developed artistically) enough. Jaded by Iceage (how many festivals have they played at recently?) and uninspired by endlessly over-hyped CHVRCHES, we spent most of the next hour catching up with friends and WNUR alumni. We were so absorbed in each other’s company that we missed Ought–one of my few regrets of the weekend–but it was well worth the laughs. Spent from a full day’s efforts, the sun drooped below the horizon and Wilco’s homecoming set ricocheted through the trees by the time we collected ourselves. We wandered through the thick crowd and towards the exit. I surprised myself with my disinterest in hanging on to every note of Wilco’s set; they were another of my high school favorites. But a few songs were enough to satisfy my desire. I couldn’t help thinking I’d rather see drummer Glenn Kotche performing alone.