Solange and A Tribe Called Quest Reigned Supreme at Pitchfork Music Festival

While attendees at this past weekend’s Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park may have had qualms with the absurdly long lines and two-hour wait periods to get in, disappointments quickly turned to adoration as they entered the grounds ready for their favorite acts to take the stage. July 14-16 saw bands from all walks of life through varying genres and age groups, one for every fan lucky enough to get a Pitchfork wristband slipped over their hand.

Luckily for everyone, Friday was the only day attributed to long lines as organizers opened up an additional entrance starting the following day. Timely indeed as Friday had some big names scheduled. With only three stages, Pitchfork is easy to navigate, giving active festival-goers a much needed respite from the massive scale events like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. The Long Beach emcee known as Vince Staples took to the Green Stage to perform tunes from his recently released “Big Fish Theory” album. The crowd favorites seemed to be the Gorillaz opener “Ascension,” which features Staples himself along with his self-proclaimed magnum-opus “Norf Norf.”  Detroit rapper Danny Brown, known for his wild haircuts and even wilder vocal stylings, followed up, this time, sporting an uncharacteristic clean cut. His most popular tune “Grown Up” didn’t’ even require his presence as the audience knew every word. Venezuelan producer Arca played alongside visual artist and frequent collaborator Jesse Kanda to close out the blue stage. Eccentric is a subtle way to describe both the sounds and presence of the twenty-seven-year-old DJ. Sonically, he was nearly indescribable as he balanced industrial, flamenco and thrash amongst distorted bass and acidic vocal sounds. His outfit deserves praise as well; though transparent mesh shorts, a white leotard top and high heels on a man almost always do. LCD Soundsystem is aging, but refuse to lose a step. Amongst tracks like “You Wanted A Hit” and “Tribulations,” James Murphy jokingly complained that there were “a couple of bad backs and a fucked up knee” on stage.

With entry-lines subdued, Saturday saw highlights from another aging band. George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic took to the Green Stage to kick off an evening of freak-flag flying funk. Opening with a twenty-minute free-flowing jam session, Clinton and his all-stars are still willing and able to put on a dance party for fans, all the while teasing tunes like “Flashlight” and “Soul Power.” Speaking of the good ol’ days, Francis and the Lights’ set harkened back to the 1980’s where dance moves were all one needed to become the life of the party. Francis Starlite lead the band with precision moves that would make any Michael Jackson fan bream with nostalgia. Avant-garde pop-star PJ Harvey took to the Red Staged donned in all black to perform songs like her recently released single “The Camp” as well as the gospel-influenced “Wade in the Water.” She showed her instrumental chops a bit by picking up the saxophone, making her musical moxie even more impressive. A Tribe Called Quest lost one of its founding members Pfife Dawg in March of last year, and the guys took this opportunity during what they’re calling a farewell tour to give love to their lost comrade. Queens rapper Consequence joined to fill in on Pfife’s verses. Their most recent release, the double-disc comeback album “We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service,” has given them plenty of ammunition for such live performances, which over the weekend included “Dis Generation” among others.

Kilo Kish lead off Sunday with her own brand of low-key hip-hop and R&B. The artist/singer would set the tone for a day filled with like-minded, black-female singer-songwriters scheduled for later in the day. Local Chicago rapper Joey Purpp and singer/rapper Isaiah Rashad also contributed to a day of hip-hop, though unfortunately Australian electronic/rap samplers The Avalanches were forced to cancel their set last-minute due to an unforeseen family emergency. Local Chicagoan Jamila Woods moved up her set to accommodate the open slot. This unassuming poet-singer stood tall amongst a crowd who may have only recognized her from frequent collaborations with hometown hero Chance the Rapper. In keeping with the theme of immensely talented black-female performances, Solange Knowles was next up. Tasked with a close-out set, Knowles delivered track after track of jazzy goodness including “F.U.B.U.” and “Don’t Touch My Hair.” Fans raved over her dramatic and unwavering performance, this after Knowles gave her parting words to Chicago: “I hope you leave a little better than you came”.

Pitchfork Music Festival took place from July 14-16 at Chicago’s Union Park.