“I can’t believe I say such stupid fucking shit into the fucking microphone, can you cut me off?” This girl’s got a mouth, but it doesn’t seem as if her mouth is making the crowd readily don their festival legs on the first day of Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival. The crowd seems a bit self-conscious at EMA, reminding themselves how to cut through people, push, jump and dance. Everyone is ready, but antsy.
“Fuck California, you made me boring,” Erika M. Anderson half sings half yells into the microphone, but by that point we’re already walking toward the blue stage where tUnE-yArDs is warming up. By the time Merrill Garbus starts yelling “Do you want to live?,” the crowd is ready to get into things. Half-dressed girls covered in glitter body paint emerge from small gaps in the crowd. They’re dancing, jumping and all seem to remember how to do this festival thing. The heavy drum loops and wild banging along with the saxophone make this performance the true gunshot to the weekend.
After watching hipsters dance to Das Racist in the beer line, Neko Case takes the stage. She slows it down from the rush of tUnE-yArDs, but it’s a welcome break from the noise. Case shows two sides for her music persona, stunning us with both her red hair and ridiculous voice while also launching into an impromptu song about “dumpster meat.” It was something having to do with being poor and in the city, we laugh but we’re not sure exactly.
When Animal Collective takes the stage at the end of the night, the tone has dramatically changed from the beginning of the festival. People sway, dance and lie in the grass, throwing their hands into the air. It’s apparent now that crowd is no longer wobbly and woozy—they are hardened sailors with Pitchfork as their sea.
Check out Max Blau’s photos from day one at Pitchfork Music Festival, where artists including Animal Collective, Neko Case, Guided By Voices, Thurston Moore and others kicked off the three-day Chicago festival.