Pitchfork Day 3: Ending with a Bang

Joe Kellen

The final day of the festival left everything that came before it behind. Audiences enjoyed beautiful weather, higher attendance and acts that held nothing back. The energy of the night felt chaotic at times due to the packed Union Park — an increased police presence suggested that the city prepped for a volatile situation. It proved to be unnecessary as the sun came down on a joyful crowd of thousands singing along with Chance the Rapper and feeling the love.


Viet Cong blasted away with dissonant post-punk at 1:45 p.m. Quirky rhythms and angular guitar gave their sound an edge that felt a little violent for the early afternoon. The mid-sized crowd enjoyed every second, however, and the Canadian group put on a slow burn of a show. Each song built toward cascades of noise that were easy to get lost in; Viet Cong knows how to focus in on the intensity of punk while shoegazing with the best of ‘em.


A pleasant set from Merge Records’ Waxahatchee followed and offered mid-tempo rock’n’roll with thoughtful lyrics. Katie Crutchfield sounds pure and spot-on, though her energy left a bit to be desired. This was straight up contemporary rock with few turns off the beaten path, making for an acceptable, if not a little boring, show.


Freddie Gibbs and Madlib turned the volume back up. Peppering the set by leading chants of “Fuck the police” and “ESGN,” Gibbs worked the crowd and goofed off with charm. The duo proved their artistry ran deep with perfectly timed DJing from Madlib and fluent, compelling raps from Gibbs. By combining silliness and hard-in-the-paint rally cries, this show blew up the afternoon and initiated a sense of momentum for the rest of the day.


Courtney Barnett took that momentum and hurled it into the stratosphere with her set. Performing for one of the biggest crowds of the day, the Australian grunge-rocker cranked up and didn’t relent. She’s a person of few words — Barnett rarely talked with the audience in favor of saturating them with feedback and fuzzy riffs. When she closed out with “Pedestrian At Best,” festivalgoers hooped, hollered and jumped around with reckless abandon.


The vibe shifted with Jamie XX’s appearance on the Red Stage, but the energy remained high. An enormous disco ball rotated behind the DJ as he teased the crowd with selections from the history of dance music. He taught an important lesson as the evening came on — one of the most crucial keys to success at a dance show is complete control. XX gripped his audience fiercely and playfully, bumping grooves that all of Union Park seemed to jam to.


Danciness abound: the Green Stage didn’t know what hit it when Caribou performed. Though the four-piece dressing in an all-white wardrobe was overkill, their electropop bangers brought Pitchfork’s intensity to the next level. Huge dance pits opened up, powders and pills emerged and folks got freaky. Caribou’s percussive assault was impressive and endless in its variety, crescendoing to an incredible climax by the end of their performance.