Friday acts as a warm up for those who brave the considerable July heat for the Pitchfork Music Festival. Union Park opens later than on Saturday and Sunday, allowing festival goers to avoid the hottest part of the day and while still becoming quite familiar with the heat that would be so prominent for the remainder of the weekend.
I began with Daughn Gibson, a country crooner with a deep, smoldering baritone. I had never listened to any of his music before the festival, but the rock-solid country grooves and Gibson’s likeable southern affect made for an enjoyable show, making Daughn Gibson the first of many new artist discoveries that I made this weekend.
Next was Mac DeMarco, a personal favorite of mine. The sheer amount of energy DeMarco and his band mates manage to pack into their sets amazes me. Along with some pumped up versions of some songs from his first two albums, DeMarco and crew play small snippets of covers, including Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine”, BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business”, and a loud cover of “Blackbird” screamed by bassist Pierce McGarry. The band is clearly having a good time and it’s hard to deny their infectious energy.
Afterwards, I headed to the side stage to see Mikal Cronin, whose album, MCII, is one of my favorites so far this year. But unfortunately his show was a bit disappointing to me. The performance largely ignored the lighter, laid-back side of Cronin’s music in favor of the heavier, distorted side, which took away much of the cleanliness and charm that the album cuts have.
Joanna Newsom managed the difficult task of not only pleasing a large crowd of young people, but keeping them quiet enough to hear her hushed harp playing and soft singing with heaps of charm and whimsy to spare. Sure, she botched some notes, and the train rattling in the background didn’t help, either, but she was able to keep the crowd engaged and put on a really nice show.
The headliner for the day was Bjork and I was able to catch a few of her songs as well as a glimpse of what appeared to be a golden ball of fluff on her head before a friend passed out from heat exhaustion followed shortly by Bjork’s set getting cut short due to weather. What I saw was just as good as expected, but be sure to stay hydrated, folks!