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Thursday, January 26

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Pitchfork Music Festival Mon Jul 20 2015

Pitchfork 2015 - Sunday in Review

Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 - Sunday (photos by Amanda Koellner)

The weather may have shifted yet again on Sunday, but the rocking was just as fierce at the Pitchfork Music Festival as it had been all weekend. While music-lovers contended with squishy mud bogs (where they put those giveaway Flor tiles to good use) as well as long lines for water and food, they were also treated to killer sets and an epic finale from Chicago's own Chance the Rapper.

The festival gates opened to the tune of Benny Hill's "Yakkity Sax" playing from the Green Stage.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 - Sunday (photos by Amanda Koellner)

If the past two days at Pitchfork tired you out and you needed to relax during day three, Bitchin Bajas provided the perfect soundtrack for the morning's mellow out session. Their spacey instrumental music slowly builds up to a transcendent peak, never becoming overwhelming its audience. If anything the long notes bloom into an inviting sound. Their set acted a moment of meditation for the festival, sure to wash away any weekend worries. Plenty of the crowd were basking in the gentleness of the set, swaying as intermittently as the music would allow.

Well into the Bitchin Bajas time, one could hear the Single Mother's boisterous stage sounds leak out of the its Blue Stage confinements over to the Green Stage, but I think everyone watching Bitchin Bajas were already in their zone. The soundscapes kept getting longer and more complex, reaching a ethereal high right at the end of the set. Bitchin Bajas may not have been exactly what people were expecting Sunday morning, but they were what they needed.
-Julian Ramirez

The songs of Katie Crutchfield (aka Waxahatchee) lay everything out there. There's no hiding from how she feels about love, relationships, and even herself. They're confessional without the pitfalls of overt self-depreciation or bitterness. Layer some hazy guitars over those lyrics and you get some perfect summer tunes. It's one thing to have great songs, but to be able to perform them with the poise as Crutchfield did on the Green Stage is a whole other story.

Dressed in a bright orangey-red dress, Crutchfield commanded a fairly large midday crowd as she powered through her songs. The fuzziness of her guitar was as big and hefty as it should have been, bringing the last half of a song like "<" to a beautiful end. Crutchfield's voice rang out through the field with such assured confidence, letting her songs lift the lazy Sunday vibe.
-Julian Ramirez

Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 - Sunday (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Sunday was definitely the day that rap artists decided to stop messing around and just get to it. I get the tradition aspect of DJ set to get the crowd warmed up, but sometimes we just don't need it. Although this would have been one of the few times the crowd would have died for a Madlib driven one. But like I said, there was no fooling around as Freddie Gibbs and Madlib came out and instantly started throwing out some G-Funk lunacy. Madlib even was adding some beats to the tracks on the spot, giving the already lively set something more to brag about.

The most interesting thing about the set was how well Gibbs took the dumb, clich├ęd rap antics and made them enjoyable. He's talked a lot between sets, doling out stories and messing with the crowd to get them going. The "fuck the police" chants echoed after every single song, but never got tiring. Especially after you realize this chant is in reference to nothing more than weed. Gibbs made it clear that he doesn't care about racial politics or the spin surrounding news. He leaves that to other rappers while he sits back and just wants to make money, smoke all day, and get laid. I paraphrase of course, something I'm sure Gibbs would take an issue with as he jokingly scolded a few audience members for not rapping along with the racial epithets. "You can say it! I don't care!"
-Julian Ramirez

Courtney Barnett (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Courtney Barnett dropped her understated and genius album Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, back in March of this year to rave reviews, and it's no wonder why. 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.

Barnett took to the stage backed by a bassist and a drummer, wearing a pair of long, trim black shorts and a red shirt (she later commented to the crowd "this is only the second time I've ever worn shorts onstage...I'm not sure if you guys should feel lucky or not") and started off strong with "Elevator Operator" from the new album. From there she dipped back and forth between the new album and 2014's A Sea of Split Peas with "Lance Jr.," "Illustration of Loneliness," "Canned Tomatoes," "Small Poppies" and "Dead Fox."

Courtney Barnett (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Part of Barnett's appeal is the sense that she's doing exactly as she pleases, regardless of everyone around her, and watching her shred on that guitar while yelling "If you can't see me, I can't see you" in a slightly slurry yell that somehow still perfectly encapsulates that dry monotone that's on her record is a lot of fun.

Moving through some more new tracks, Barnett sang "Depreston" and "Nobody Really Cares if You Don't Go To the Party" (which contains the ingenious lyrics "I wanna go out, but I wanna stay home." Yupyupyup. Every day.) before dipping back for "Avant Gardner" and wrapping up with "History Eraser" and of course much to the crowd's delight "Pedestrian at Best."
-Celeste Mallama

While Tom Krell's How To Dress Well performance was as good as it usually is, his super-stylized R&B is better suited for an indoor venue. I think that was a big issue for a lot of the performers at Pitchfork this year. Krell's production has shifted since his atmospheric first album Love Remains to a cleaner and sharper approach What Is This Heart. This should lend itself to the open air, but it really begs for a darkened room with moody lighting shining down on Krell.

There was a slight delay to his performance, but once he hit the stage Krell did his best to get the crowd moving. Krell emotes like no other, often pouring his heart out into two mics to distort his voice into booming quality. Krell bounced back and forth onstage as if he needed to propel his voice even further. His songs sounded crisp the occasional breeze, but it seemed that How to Dress Well was just getting lost in the largeness of things.
-Julian Ramirez

Jamie XX (photos by Amanda Koellner)

I wasn't expecting to catch much of Jamie XX, but I was blown away as soon as I stepped away from the Blue stage and entered the main area of Pitchfork. DJ sets at these festivals are a mixed bag, falling either into over the top and ill-fitting madness or boring everyday day club jams. Both can be enjoyable, but we deserve better. Jamie XX didn't shy from all of that, instead opting to embrace it and did some unique: he wrapped it all up into a dark, brooding DJ set under an enormous disco ball. It was an interesting contrast, hearing and literally feeling the deep bass all the way at the edge of the field as the glimmering mirrored ball caught the low afternoon sun. Jamie XX knocked it out of the park, completely earning all the praise and buzz he's been getting this year.
-Julian Ramirez

Killer Mike (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Watching El-P and Killer Mike perform together as Run the Jewels it makes total sense how the duo has made it as far as they have in just two short years. Not only do the pair have some of the wittiest and most irreverent lyrics out there, but they also work seamlessly together on stage, clearly enjoying what they're doing, enjoying each other and enjoying the crowd.

Getting things started by blasting "We Are the Champions" by Queen, the duo, backed by DJ Trackstar, took to the stage and started things off with "Oh My Darling Don't Cry," "Blockbuster Night Part 1" and "Banana Clipper." The duo promised big things to come, with plenty of guest appearances and then told the crowd to put away any selfie sticks, smart phones, or glasses, anything breakable, before breaking out into "Close Your Eyes." Watching the crowd go crazy to that repetitive and addictive "run them jewels fast" backdrop, the band's heads up made a lot of sense.

Run the Jewels (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Moving into lesser known territory, the group played "Pew Pew Pew" before starting the crowd going with a chant of the five rules of life "Lie, Cheat, Steal, Kill, Win." As promised, the set was also full of guest appearances, including Boots on "Early" and Gangsta Boo for "Love Again."

The high energy set was interspersed with chants of "RTJ! RTJ!" and plenty of love for Chicago and Pitchfork from the duo. Chicago was giving them plenty of love right back. Give it a couple of years and I bet those two will be playing the headliner spot for Sunday.
-Celeste Mallama

The theme of this year's tenth anniversary Pitchfork Music Festival was hometown heroes — with Wilco headlining Friday, Sleater-Kinney Saturday, and of course, Chance the Rapper on Sunday.

Chance the Rapper (photos by Amanda Koellner)

The 22-year-old Chicagoan made good drew a huge crowd to close out the fest Sunday evening, and he started the show off with a bang. Beginning the set five minutes early (he was clearly excited to get going, and everyone in the crowd was right there with him) the stage suddenly illuminated with flashing lights as 20 synchronized dancers took to the stage and the Social Experiment took to the second of tier above them to warm up the crowd with those amazing brass instruments. As the dancers ushered in the set, text messages popped up on the screen reading "Did you miss me? R U ready? I'm back." The dancers cleared the way and with that signature "oowooo!" sound that he does so well, Chance took the stage and just dominated it for the next hour and a half.

Chance the Rapper (photos by Amanda Koellner)

While some younger performers don't quite have the presence necessary to command the stage, that's clearly not something that Chance struggles with. He explained to the crowd "When I make that oowooo! sound, it means that I want more. I want more from myself, and I want more from you. From the very first person at the front of the stage who camped out for an hour to get there, to the very last person in the back." I have never been afraid of disappointing an artist as an observer, but at that moment I was very afraid that we weren't going to live up to Chance's expectations, and given the level of energy that the man was giving us, it only seemed fair that we give it right back.

Chance the Rapper (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Moving through tracks from his 2013 mixtape Acid Rap, Chance gave us the highest energy set of the weekend with "Home Studio," "Juice" and "Favorite Song" to start things off, and much like Run the Jewels, pulling out special guest appearances, including the Chicago bucket boys for an awesome rendition of the "Arthur" theme song mashup "Wonderful Everyday" that's guaranteed to take you back to your childhood in the trippiest of ways.

Chance the Rapper (photos by Amanda Koellner)

Chance's live set is something that needs to be experienced in person, and clearly the artist gets it — he specifically had Pitchfork cancel the live feed for his set, so that it would be "just an experience for the people right here, right now. Nowhere else." I've only seen him once but my guess is that every Chance the Rapper concert is a unique and simultaneously personal and communal experience, and the Pitchfork crowd knew that they were lucky to be part of this one.
-Celeste Mallama

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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