Twenty-Twenty, Pitchfork Music Festival 2017
By, Noah Cuff
Since 2006, Pitchfork Media has been throwing their own music festival in Union Park, deep in the heart of downtown Chicago. Boasting the best and upcoming rap and hip-hop artists throughout the years: Chance The Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt. Pitchfork has almost always been on their game. This year was my third year going and first for all three days. Needless to say, this year was just as jammed pack with amazing artists.
Opening the weekend was former M.I.A. drummer Kiran Gandhi. Performing solo now as Madame Gandhi, Kiran’s act consisted of vocals over the electrifying live percussion that carried the show and brought a stunning amount of energy. Having to open a major music festival is never an easy task and Madame Gandhi appeared a little timid at first during her opening track, but that quickly changed. Unapologetically, she pushed positive messages of feminism through her music in a time where it's needed greatly.
Tl;dr she was one kickass chick.
Recently featured on Gorillaz’s new album Humanz, Vince Staples definitely proved why he deserved that spot. Filled with an intense energy that even caused the Pitchfork crowd to dance, he performed songs off his new album Big Fish Theory which translated perfectly into a live setting. My only disappointment was how Vince chose to perform the instrumentations. Up there alone, Vince gave exciting cold stares to the audience. However, behind him sat an empty stage just begging for more substance.
Tl;dr Vince nails his stage presence but leaves the listener hungry for more.
This man has been popping up on record features all over recently and rightfully so. Touring his newest album Atrocity Exhibition, Danny Brown showed up clean cut and ready to take shit from no one. With a live DJ behind him, Danny weaved through his discography with an impressive seventeen-song set list leaving no room to breathe. In the best way possible. If you haven’t seen him perform live before, you better add that to your bucket list pronto.
Tl;dr Danny kills it as expected
Wow. It’s almost impossible to put into words what his set was like. The young Venezuelan might fly under the radar to the average hip-hop head, but he has already accomplished a ton. From producing for Björk and FKA twigs to co-producing Kanye West’s album Yeezus, Arca has developed a lot of experience and it definitely shows. Touring for his self titled album Arca, the Venezuelan crafted otherworldly sounds and noises into a DJ set filled with chilling beats that felt as though you were changing stations on an alien radio. If you can catch only one act from this fest in the future, I highly recommend Arca.
Tl;dr Arca is a master of sound and a master of grooves
George Clinton and The Parliament-Funkadelic
The ‘cid starting to bring you down? Well then say hello to your new trip advisor, George Clinton. Bringing good vibes and amazing rhythms at 76 years young, Clinton introduced the Pitchfork crowd to The parliament-Funkadelic and their elaborate stage set up with an enormous amount of energy. With background singers adding layers over the walls of unique percussion, rappers layin’ down straight bars, and George Clinton howling out his lyrics, the atmosphere oozed with joy and love.
Tl;dr George Clinton’s vibe coulda chilled the ice caps.
Francis and The Lights
Didn’t get to see :( Can’t see them all I guess…
A hip-hop legend with collaborations with other legends such as MF Doom and J Dilla brought a solo DJ set on the blue stage and it’s pretty much what you’d expect. He flowed through his set with ease, performing songs from all over including the groundbreaking collaboration album Madvillainy with MF Doom. The show felt very intimate despite there being a large crowd at the small stage. Madlib took advantage of this and created an amazing energy that could even chill out the Westboro Baptist Church.
Tl;dr Madlib continues to prove how important he is to hip-hop music
A Tribe Called Quest
Mind blowing. They are truly a master of their craft. They dedicated this show to Phife Dawg and they showed just how close they were to him with intimate moments on stage and even still performing Phife’s bars throughout their songs. I was a huge fan going into this show and now I am only a bigger fan.
Tl;dr The Tribe proved that they really are a tribe, but they invited the whole fest in for this performance.
I wasn’t able to catch his entire show, but the young rapper kept the crowd engaged the entire time and showed real potential. I would keep an eye on this one.
Tl;dr Isaiah has the stage presence, now he needs his masterpiece.
Didn’t get to see :(
Step aside Beyoncé, a new sisters hit the game. And she’s high rolling. With the release of her newest critically acclaimed album A Seat at the Table, Solange closed Pitchfork 2017 with a beautiful set that felt perfect for the moment. Everyone around me seemed exhausted and her exquisite voice helped relax the crowd while still keeping them engaged. This girl has real talent and I can’t wait to see what she puts out next.
Tl;dr Solange closes the fest with harmonies and melodies to melt anyone’s heart.