It is fair to say that festivals often benefit from inertia. When things are going well, it is often going to stay that way. Following the miraculous events of Friday, Pitchfork Music Festival 2018 was off to a tremendous start. Not only did the undercard and headlining act Tame Impala bring ferocious, energy-packed performances to the table, but the audience was also blessed with surprisingly great weather. What was supposed to be dreary and thunderous day turned into sunny and melodic evening. Fans of indie rock, underground hip-hop, and experimental music alike all stood unified enjoying some of their favorite artists perform. This truly beautiful day, as alluded to earlier, was not an isolated incident. In fact, Saturday at Pitchfork was perhaps an even stronger showcase of music, art, and creativity.
While acts like Paul Cherry, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and The War On Drugs all put on terrific shows, the triumphant performances of the day were from Moses Sumney and the Fleet Foxes. While both performances were very vocal-centric, they held two completely different tones. Sumney’s set cast a haunting shadow on the entire audience. His incredible vocal range and control were paired with eerie instrumentation, consisting of oboe textures, violin sways, and some occasional sporadic drumming. On top of this, Moses added tons of vocal loops to the mix to create an atmospheric depth that few artists can attain. It was a uniquely beautiful experience that the audience will not soon forget.
On the other side of the coin, the Fleet Foxes’ furious momentum and compositional prowess shined in their headlining set. While Sumney had the audience perfectly quiet and still, Robin Pecknold and company were somehow able to create both a beautiful and boisterous audience experience. Fan favorites like “White Winter Hymnal” and “Mykonos” had fans regaling in nostalgic joy. Pecknold sounded as strong as ever and the rich layers present on their albums still shined through in their live performance. On top of this the vocal harmonies that define their sound, may have sounded even stronger live than on record. Even when they weren’t cranking out crowd favorites, Fleet Foxes were on top of their game. “Mearcstapa” left the audience in a whirlwind with its beautiful mess of guitar interjections. “On Another Ocean (January/June)” was another highlight as it triumphantly cut through the listener’s ears with a brass explosion in the second half of the song. Lastly, the band’s cover of Curtis Mayfield’s classic “Fool for You” saw the band indulging in a Motown feel that felt fresh yet not too foreign.
At the end of the day, Saturday’s performers left off right where Fridays did. The day was chalked full of energetic performances, creative art, and positive spirits for everyone to enjoy. The Fleet Foxes and Sumney may have stolen the show, but they were merely favorites as the whole day was an astounding experience for all.