To be completely honest, I had never been before and had never really planned on going to Pitchfork until about a week ago. Sure, I had heard of some of the artists before, especially the hip-hop ones and the big-name headliners, but I didn’t really see the festival as something for me. All of that changed when I walked in the gates of Union Park on Chicago’s near-West side on Friday.  The music, crowd, and scale of Pitchfork are all vastly different from the other dominant Chicago festival: Lollapalooza, but this difference is much more of a positive than a negative.  While P4K may not have had all of the bands I wanted to see, it did have great people in a great setting, and Friday’s experience truly did verify Pitchfork’s hype to me (not that the clearly successful festival needs to justify itself to a college kid). But now, on to the music:

Neneh Cherry with RocketNumberNine

I’ll be honest, Neneh Cherry was playing right when WPGU made it to the festival on Friday, and we had made no previous plans of seeing her, but both the fact that she was the only thing playing at the time and her captivating stage presence made us stay and watch. Apparently it was Ms. Cherry’s first show (not only in Chicago, but anywhere) in over 10 years, and only her second show ever in the United States.  The UK-based singer combined various elements of world music with some spoken word poetry and a hint of soul music to deliver a surprisingly pleasant start to the day.  Most importantly, though, she was rocking some really sick blue and white Adidas trainers and had a 5 piece band…but mostly the trainers. (Written by Boswell Hutson)

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Sharon Van Etten

The transition between the recorded music of Sharon Van Etten and her live show was an undeniably smooth one. Her albums consist of straight-forward, lyrical folk tunes which translate well to the stage. Each song was undeniably beautiful to listen to, helped by a talented backing band and astonishingly on-point vocal harmonies. She’s coming to the Highdive in Champaign this October and I highly recommend checking it out. (Written by Eric Holmes)

Sun Kil Moon

Though I was optimistic going into the Sun Kil Moon show, in the back of my mind I knew that what I hoped a Sun Kil Moon would be like and what it was actually like would almost certainly be two very different beasts. While that may have turned out to be true, my disappointment in the lack of old songs didn’t do much to detract from the heart-breakingly beautiful songs from this year’s excellent Benji. With the help of a talented group of similarly middle-aged musicians, Mark Kozelek played several of the songs from Benji, bookended by songs from each of his collaborations from last year. Given that Sun Kil Moon has largely become a solo project for Kozelek, the transition from the record to the stage is a natural one. The degree to which someone would enjoy going to a Sun Kil Moon concert depends upon either your enjoyment of his most recent work or on your enjoyment of watching a middle-aged guy play guitar and sing sad, sad songs. (Written by Eric Holmes)

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Giorgio Moroder

Giorgio was certainly one of the day’s most interesting performing acts.  Unfortunately, I mean “interesting” in perhaps the most bizarre since of the word.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Giorgio is an Italian producer and DJ who actually contributed to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories quite heavily.  The love-able 74 year-old DJ didn’t really transition that well to stage, however, in a show that was as unfortunately weird as it was quirky and funny.  Though we were only watching from a distance (you know, holding our impressive spots for Beck), it was apparent that Moroder’s set consisted almost entirely of him playing tracks off of his MacBook while pointing at the audience.  Every once in a while, he would flash some kind of random English phrase on the jumbotron, and the crowd seemed to take it as hilarious more than anything else.  I’m sure Moroder is an adept producer, in fact, I know that from listening to his work, but the novelty of his age only goes so far. All and all, I’m glad we stayed to get a good spot for Beck. (Written by Boswell Hutson)

Beck

Beck is a titan in the music business and his headlining show on Friday showed why. Beck has an impressive amount of hits and party songs ripe for sing-a-longs, all which lend themselves to an electric live experience. Songs like “Loser”, “Devil’s Haircut”, and “Girl” were a blast to see live and mellow songs from Sea Change and this year’s Morning Phase did little to slow the momentum of the show. Though the show got a bit gimicky for my taste at times, the crime scene tape before “Sexx Laws” seemed a bit tacky to me among other things, it’s difficult to deny the sheer amounts of energy coming from both the performer and the crowd. Plus, Beck is one hell of a dancer. (Written by Eric Holmes)

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