Pitchfork Music Festival 2015, Friday: Faces in the crowd
Wilco played to a sold-out Union Park crowd as Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 kicked off on Friday evening
Never listen to the weatherman. Though storm clouds blew over Union Park throughout the afternoon on Friday, the heavens never let loose. The heat was punishing at times, but sunshine and blue skies were preferable to rain and mud pits.
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The picturesque conditions provided the perfect environment for Natalie Prass's early-afternoon set, which found the country-tinged crooner serenading fest-goers as they entered the park. Back on the Blue stage, folk singer Jessica Pratt delivered an extremely quiet set of her delicate, finger-picked songs that was rendered nearly inaudible when ILoveMakonnen took the main stage and riled up the the crowd with his atonal hip-hop anthems.
As clouds gathered, a small crowd formed to listen to Steve Gunn's entrancing guitar lines on the Blue stage, where his band's psychedelic folk tunes seemed to ward off the dark clouds. Summer festival stalwart Mac DeMarco held court back in the main field, cracking a gap-toothed grin as members of the writhing crowd began crowdsurfing during a cover of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In the Years.” Back in the shade, we spotted the Haim sisters checking out Canadian piano man Tobias Jesso Jr., who was joined by a horn section. Alas, Haim BFF and tour mate Taylor Swift (who plays Soldier Field this weekend) was nowhere to be seen.
The late evening schedule was heavy on electronic acts, hosting a somewhat dull appearance by Animal Collective member Panda Bear, who camped out listlessly behind his synth and drum machine array. Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches drew one of the largest and most enthusiastic crowds, debuting a new single and chastising Mac DeMarco for leaving his cigarette butts on the Red stage.
Hometown headliners Wilco opened the evening by playing through Star Wars—an album that was released the day before with no prior warning—in full. The half-hour stretch of unfamiliar material quickly drove away more casual fans, but those who stuck around witnessed possible future live staples like jovial rocker “Random Name Generator” and the slowly building feedback squall of “You Satellite.” The remainder of the band’s set stuck to more familiar tunes, like “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and “Via Chicago.” Frankly, it's a little hard to believe that Wilco has never played at Pitchfork before, but the band's spirited performance seemed dead set on making up for lost time.
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