This year’s Pitchfork was extra special, as it marked the tenth year of the festival’s residency in Union Park. When Pitchfork Media started the fest (then called Intonation Festival), only a few thousand attendees showed up to watch a mostly local lineup. In the intervening decade Pitchfork’s acts have become more prestigious, and passes for the fest are now one of the hottest tickets in town.
Extreme heat and inclement weather threatened to derail our festival experience, but the clouds cleared and this year’s Pitchfork was the most memorable yet. We came to see (among others) Kurt Vile, The New Pornographers, and Sleater Kinney.
The most tenuous moment of the festival was before Kurt Vile’s set when torrential rain, lightning and a tornado watch caused organizers to evacuate the park for an hour. With nowhere to go, festival goers spilled out onto Ashland to weather the storm, wondering aloud if the gates would open again. Thankfully the park was reopened and the music resumed apace. Kurt Vile’s set was predictably fuzzy and dreamy, the perfect post-storm soundtrack. We love Vile’s last record, the supremely mellow Wakin on a Pretty Daze, and we’re glad to hear him perform so many songs from the album.
The New Pornographers were next on our agenda, having been on our concert bucket list for years. Though two of our favorite band members didn’t attend (Neko Case and Dan Bejar), the remaining members played an upbeat, poetically poppy set. Despite the name of the band, the New Pornographers have some of the most universally appealing, infectious hits we can think of. Check out their video for “Crash Years” and see what all of the chatter is about!
Sleater Kinney is another band that we have looked forward to seeing for years. A staple of the riot grrl scene in the mid-90s, Sleater Kinney had a long hiatus between 2006 and 2014. They absolutely earned their headliner status, drawing the biggest audience we have ever seen at one stage during Pitchfork. Sleater Kinney played a handful of songs from their first several album, but also performed new work from their incredible recent album No Cities to Love. The set perfectly cemented our love for feminist rock, and seeing the show was a highlight of the summer!
With all of the excitement (planned and unplanned), we cannot wait to see what Pitchfork 2016 has in store for us!