The 2014 Pitchfork Music Festival took place from July 18-20 in Chicago’s Union Park. Ella Leitman Dixon took photos and shared with us her 10 favorite sets.
1. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Avey Tare, a member of Animal Collective, drew a heavy crowd Friday night. Distorted guitars and horror-film synths set his new project, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, apart from other acts on the bill, and the audience was quickly enrapt. Fan favorite “Little Fang,” sounded even brighter and bouncier in person — perfect for the dimly-lit Pitchfork stage.
2. Twin Peaks
One of the only bands from Chicago playing the festival this year, Twin Peaks delivered songs powered by reverb-soaked guitar and sweet, simple vocal melodies. This is especially impressive considering their limitations: Guitarist Cadien James rolled onto the stage in a wheelchair, the result of an injury sustained on tour. It didn’t slow the band down: The set swung from serene to shredding.
Grimes commanded the stage with confidence, the perfect complement to her bright, bouncing electronic pop. Her set was by far the weekend’s most entertaining: backed by two dancers in matching garb, Grimes paired quick, skillful dance music with irresistible melodies.
4. Perfect Pussy
Perfect Pussy frontwoman Meredith Graves is already a hardcore icon who’s potent on record and even moreso on stage. Their early performance slot at 1:55 p.m. on Sunday could have worked against them, but their violent, furious take on punk prevailed.
DIIV were the prefect choice for a warm Sunday afternoon. Their light, airy songs sailed effortlessly through the air, the perfect counterpoint to Perfect Pussy’s fire and fury.
6. Neneh Cherry
Veteran performer Neneh Cherry’s set was mostly a combination of hip-hop and electronic music, yet there were also glimpses of the punk rock she was introduced to as a teenager. Her set proved the perfect companion piece to her excellent new record, Blank Slate.
Emerging with a smile from behind a cloud of smoke came SZA, effortlessly fusing hip-hop and soul. SZA may only have three years of music under her belt, but it would be hard to know it. She brought humor and joy to her set, a fresh attitude to a stale music scene.
8. Speedy Ortiz
Punk rock and spunky, Speedy Ortiz was a band I looked forward to seeing. The heavy bass and feedback radiating from the speakers rattled the whole crowd. Synths pounded between melodic guitar and bashing drums. And though their lyrics are sometimes cynical, their songs are bright and potent.
tUnE-yArDs, with faces painted, delivered killer beats and bubbling vocal melodies. Though I wasn’t as impressed with their most recent album, I was surprised to see how well the songs translated live. Their costumes sparkled under the colored lighting, and the energy passing between the band members was palpable. The band had remarkable chemistry, made clear through the abundant smiles on the face of each member.
10. FKA Twigs
With her hair plastered to her face, FKA Twigs executed a series of spectacular moves, popping and locking with snake-like skill. At times, her background music was a little too loud and her vocals, though beautiful, were not nearly loud enough. As a result, her words sounded like little more than short bursts of sound — eerie moans laid on top of electronic tracks. Though it was intriguing, it undermined all that is brilliant about Twigs.