In its tenth year, Pitchfork Festival looked to its hometown of Chicago for support. The city that birthed indie-music celebration was this year’s theme, as it helped honor P4K’s ten-year anniversary. While rain was the fest’s biggest news—it forced several Saturday artists to cancel last minute—hometown talent was Pitchfork’s most salient aspect. Chicago claimed seven of the festival’s total acts, including three of the headliners: Wilco, Vic Mensa, who was elevated to headliner last minute, and, of course, Chance The Rapper, who closed out P4K with a rousing rendition of “Sunday Candy” with none other than gospel legend Kirk Franklin.
Through the course of the three days we learned a handful of new truths. These are just eight of them.
Kirk Franklin’s Still Got It
Franklin helped Chance The Rapper close out the festival by lending a hand on “Sunday Candy,” which featured a full choir and more positive energy than Union Park could handle. While rumors of Kanye West and Erykah Badu appearing swirled, it was Franklin who helped bring it all together at the end.
A$AP Ferg Can Get A Crowd Turnt In A Hurry
The Harlem rapper rocked a packed crowd at the Blue Stage right after the rains swept through the grounds. Perhaps antsy from the rain delay, A$AP Ferg’s fans crowd-surfed like it was Odd Future in 2012, keeping the security guards busy as they acted as a turnstile for rubber-limbed teens and twenty-somethings. Interestingly, someone even hoisted a huge recycling bin into the air, which made its way around the crowd like a massive hot potato before opening and spilling its contents onto some unlucky festival-goers.
The Chicago Bulls Bucket Boys Keep Impeccable Rhythm
If you’ve ever walked through the Loop or been to a Bulls game at the United Center in Chicago, then you’re certainly aware of the group that has made a name for itself by playing plastic buckets with drumsticks. Chance The Rapper brought the squad out for a rendition of “Wonderful Everyday (Arthur),” and it was very dope. It was perhaps one of the most Chicago moments ever, and The Bucket Boys killed it.
A day after rocking the headlining slot of Pitchfork, I was surprised to find Vic Mensa in a white racing suit calmly sauntering through the aisles of a CVS looking for hair-care products. He might hang with Kanye and headline your favorite fest, but he runs his own errands just like the rest of us nobodies.
Towio Proved His Star Is Rising
Chicago’s SaveMoney has been busy this year and Towkio has been central to that, rising to new heights on the strength of his .WAV Theory release and his surprise Saturday night set on the Blue Stage was indicative of that. The 22-year-old crossover act had the crowd in a frenzy and was on point throughout an abbreviated set that had Joey Purp and KAMI of Leather Corduroys joining the rest of the collective diving into the crowd. Having been thrown into the situation only hours prior to taking the stage, the young rising star didn’t miss a beat and filled out his set time like a seasoned vet. Among friends and family that have watched him grow for some time, the set was special moment most will remember for a long time.
Chicago Can’t Handle Pitchfork…
The Windy City isn’t New York nor it isn’t Austin. It could be both, but certain macro and micro forces prevent it from emulating those hipster destinations, and nowhere was that more prevalent than throughout the Pitchfork’s run. Perhaps the fest has gotten much bigger, but there was a surprisingly small amount of related events around town—and the ones worth attending were packed with oversized RSVPs. The infrastructure seemed to break with each day (the ridiculous Uber surges only magnified the situation).
…But some after-parties were as good as the actual festival
Friday is always a light day for any festival, but much of those in attendance seemed to migrate north and east by the time Wilco reached the Green Stage. Boiler Room hosted a iLoveMakonnen and Lil B after-party at Chop Shop in Wicker Park, which boasted a massive line and had people clamoring to sneak in the side door. At the same time the Virgin Hotel kept a fully-stocked lineup, while SaveMoney, Hurt Everybody, and Mensa closed out the festival correctly with a show Sunday at Bottom Lounge.
Pitchfork Definitely Has Outgrown Union Park
It’s not quite Lollapalooza, but it’s obvious that it’s also not quite the Pitchfork of old—not that that’s a bad thing. The festival seemed markedly bigger this year with crowds stretching nearly all the way across the park for some sets.