Hip-hop with a side of rock was the special of the day at 2018 Pitchfork. Perhaps it’s age, but I much prefer the relatively smaller confines of the three day festival at Union Park, to something huge like Lollapalooza. This annual music fest on Chicago’s near west side hosts about 20,000 a day. It has been two years since I last made it down to Ashland and Lake Streets to join the festivities. I hear a lot more hip hop these days. I’m finally acquiring a taste for the genre.
Here are the bands I got to see on Friday. Old age and a bad back prevented me from attending any of the other days., but the offerings on day one were quite a feast of music.
Lucy Dacus – Twangy indie rock artist from Virginia.
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society were something I’d expect to see in the parking lot at a Dead show. Experimental, jazz, avant-garde. Take your pick.
Next was Saba, making his triumphant debut in his hometown. His real name is Tahj Malik Chandler, but his stage name is stylized as SABA. The rapper and record producer grew up in the Austin neighborhood of the West Side of Chicago. Saba was featured on Chance the Rapper’s single “Angels”. The very diverse crowd sang and danced along, knowing many of his lyrics.
From a distance we saw Syd across at the feature stage. We hunkered in place for a front rail spot for Courtney Barnett. If you could meld Chrissie Hynde and Jimi Hendrix, the result would be Australian born Barnett. The re-release of her debut EP in 2013 garnered her the attention she needed to sign a record deal. That led to her breakthrough in 2015 along with a best new artist Grammy nomination. She brought the best straight up rock set of the day. Her four piece band shredded their way through her recent material in a rollicking hour set.
The main course was another group from Down Under. Australia’s Tame Impala, had a mesmerizing light show to really enhance their Beatleseque psychedelic rock show. This is only their third performance of the year, having played two other festival gigs in Europe. The band is the brainchild Kevin Parker from Perth in Western Australia. In the studio, he writes the songs and plays all the instruments. On tour, he is joined by guitarist Dominic Simper and member of the group Pond. Below is some footage from the gig, showing the spectacular light show.