This past weekend, Pitchfork hosted their annual Chicago-based music festival in Union Park with headlining acts Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel and Kendrick Lamar. The auxiliary lineup was more than impressive, though, with acts booked like the London-based, ever-elusive trip-hop group FKA Twigs, the Brooklyn local hardcore band Perfect Pussy and the somber guitar musings of Sun Kil Moon.
On Friday, the first of three gloriously temperate days, the OWSLA act Hundred Waters opened Pitchfork Festival with introspective electronic music that swayed between wavering and delicate to violent and abrasive. Across the park, the industrial house act Factory Floor followed. The steely and reserved English trio broke the fourth wall when vocalist/guitarist Nik Colk cracked a wide smile at all the erratic limbs flailing in the crowd. Their set, may have been the most physically engaging electronic act of the festival, save for Grimes. Sharon Van Etten played soon after, one of the day’s undisputed highlights. Showing off her chops on the omnichord, Van Etten jettisoned through songs like “Taking Chances” and “Your Love Is Killing Me.” Each song felt deeply personal, wildly emotional, impossible not to empathize with and her voice, synched with her magnanimous stage presence, was absolutely chilling.
As the female rapper wunderkind SZA performed catty-corner across the park, Sun Kil Moon played the main stage in the late afternoon for an expansive, generally caucasian (bandleader Mark Kozelek chuckled after on song and said “Damn! That’s a lot of white people!”) crowd. Kozelek remained seated with his acoustic guitar during the set, even during the silent roar of Benji’s “Dogs,” until the final song. It was a simple, understated set that captivated thousands.
Giorgio Moroder queued up some deliciously campy 80s tracks like “Hot Stuff,” “Call Me” and “I Feel Love,” finger-wagging and beaming at the crowd. Before leaving the stage and playing a sped-up version of the Daft Punk collaborative track “Giorgio By Moroder,” he told the audience that the set was the best show he’s ever played. Beck headlined the night, delving deep into his diverse and straight-up weird catalogue of material. The band covered the Moroder-produced “I Feel Love,” and howled out the smash single “Loser,” but Beck also drifted to the melancholic, aqueous overtones of his most recent long-player Morning Phase.