Review: Pitchfork Day Three at Union Park (July 19, 2015)

Image by Daniel Boczarski via Getty Images

I started my day out seeing Madlib & Freddie Gibbs, who performed a great set. They are a great example of the more low key hip-hop performers that Pitchfork gets to play every year. They definitely gained a bunch of fans because of their performance. I then headed to see Courtney Barnett perform. She released her album Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, earlier this year in March, which got great reviews. She is known for her witty lyrics; Celeste Mallama wrote on Gapers Block “Listening to Barnett’s lyrics is like listening to a Pulitzer Prize winning author describe the events of the CTA at rush hour – the most mundane and relatable human experiences told through the lens of a poet”. She opened with “Elevator Operator” and closed with “Pedestrian at Best”. Considering I didn’t know who Courtney Barnett was before yesterday, I was impressed by her lyrics, her rocking songs, and her “I don’t give a damn” attitude on stage. She’s definitely entered my radar. I also saw a great performance by Caribou. I really enjoyed “Can’t Do Without You”. While I waited for Chance the Rapper’s set, I was able to catch all of Run the Jewels, whose set was playing on the Green Stage’s monitor. They entered the stage to Queen’s “We are the Champions”. In the middle of the set, they brought out Zack De La Rocha, from Rage Against the Machines, which was awesome. Their show seemed to be incredibly rowdy and fun. I wish that I was able to be in the crowd for that show, but I wasn’t risking giving up my prime spot for Chance the Rapper.

Image by Erin Hooley via The Chicago Tribune

The main person I came to see was Chance the Rapper and it was apparent that majority of Pitchfork Fest goers were there to see him too. The amount of Chance the Rapper shirts I saw yesterday was astounding and made me feel a little left out since I was wearing a boring green tank top. I saw Chance perform in 2013 at the Aragon Ballroom, just after he started to gain major recognition for his mixtape Acid Rap. When I saw him perform, he had just burst onto the scene. At the age of 20, he didn’t have much experience then. I thought that he had a lot to learn about performing. But when I saw him last night, it was apparent that in the past two years he had grown so much as a performer. Last night, Chance kept repeating that his show tonight was for us. Since Chicago is his hometown, a less than A+ worthy performance was not an option for him. His stage presence was fantastic. I could tell that being on stage felt completely natural to him. He kept the crowds energy high by keeping his own level up. He danced his ass off for the 90 minute set and told the crowd he needed their energy to stay high, which they did.

He opened up his set with “Home Studio”, “Juice”, and “Favorite Song”. Chance is known for bringing out guests during his show. Last year at Lollapalooza he brought out R. Kelly and Vic Mensa. First, he brought out the Chicago Bucket Boys, known for performing at the Chicago Bulls games, to help him with his rendition of the Arthur theme song, which has proven to be a great addition to Chance’s set. He then brought out Donnie Trumpet to accompany him with “Slip Slide’ and “Wanna be Cool”. And finally he brought out Kirk Franklin who helped bring us to church while performing “Sunday Candy” with a gospel choir. The great part of Chance’s set was that he played songs from all points of his career. He played songs from his mix tapes, 10 Day and Acid Rap, and songs off his new studio album Surf. He closed the night with “Chain Smoker” off of Acid Rap. Overall I was very, very impressed with Chance’s performance. His performance was so much more than an artist doing a set. With the elaborate light and video show, the outfit changes, and the dance numbers, his set could have been a Broadway show. Chance and his staff rehearsed this show for months just for Chicago. He said himself, he only gets to do one show in Chicago each year. I am looking forward to seeing him in October performing in New Orleans at Voodoo Music + Arts Experience which runs from October 30-November 1.

Liz Byrom

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