Pitchfork Festival 2016

Big name headliners like FKA Twigs, Beach House and Sufjan Stevens always draw the masses to Union Park, giving the festival a nationwide buzz.

But, Pitchfork Music Festival will always be bound by its Chicago roots. This year’s line-up saw five Chicago-bred acts take the stage, including one hell of a special guest. Catch the recap on each artist below. If you were there, happily recollect; if not, write these names down now!:


The cloudy skies left over from some afternoon drizzles seemed a most appropriate setting for the laid back, easy-going sound of Chicago’s most talked about up-and-comers in Whitney. Supporting their debut LP “Light Upon the Lake,” released in June, the band glided through their brisk tracks with a certain touch of delicacy to each note. Drummer/singer Julien Ehrlich’s sincere falsettos were in perfect harmony with the already intimate setting of Pitchfork’s Blue Stage. Great was their twangy rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.” Even better was the string quartet brought out for “No Woman.”

WHITENY1Twin Peaks

For the band’s second Pitchfork appearance in three years, frontman Cadien Lake James once again rolled up to the stage in a wheelchair. In 2014, James powered through a Pitchfork set despite a fractured foot. This time around, he merely popped up from his seat with a devious grin and proceeded to rock on, on two feet. Twin Peaks’ rowdy brand of sing-a-long rock n’ roll drew one of the most impassioned crowds of the weekend, though no one may have loved it more than Twin Peaks themselves, all of whom had beaming smiles during the whole 45-minute set. What’s not to love about their charming, raucous antics? If anyone knows how to have a good time on stage, it’s these guys.


Mick Jenkins

“Drink More Water!” shouted by Mick Jenkins and repeated by fans a dozen or so times was not just good festival advice bestowed by the young Chicago MC. With his first full length album still on its way, Mick Jenkins already commands the mic like a savvy veteran. A keen observer and gifted poet, Jenkins packs his songs with references and wordplay on topics as diverse as spirituality and redemption to jaded rap culture. A 30-minute equipment delay did nothing to curb the passion he brought to the stage, especially during his performance of “Martyrs.” Fans got hopeful of a surprise guest slot when Jenkins rapped Chance’s “Grown Ass Kid,” but alas it was a tease. Surely no one in the crowd seemed to mind. Jenkins was terrific on his own.

MICKJENKINS4BJ the Chicago Kid

BJ’s resume boasts collaborations with some of the industry’s biggest names — Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and local hero Chance the Rapper to name a few. With this last name in mind, again, I hope no one in the crowd was disappointed when Chance didn’t show up during his set. In the end, it was for the better, allowing BJ to show off his diverse talents for creating both smooth R&B ballads and more hardwired rap songs. BJ packed in as much as he could into his set, even cutting songs short to get to the next one. Closing with his most notable track, “Church,” BJ proved to the crowd why the likes of Chance and Kanye want him in their songs.


Jeremih kicked things off with a brief DJ set, spinning snippets of tracks like “I Gotta Feeling,” and “One Dance,” turning Union Park into an enormous midday dance party.  After the warm-up, things picked up even more when Jeremih announced it was his birthday and brought a special guest — wait for it — his mother, onto the stage. Upon hearing it was her birthday too, the crowd let out a collective “aww,” and shouted “happy birthday” to the two of them. If that wasn’t enough to make a memorable set, a guest appearance by Chance the Rapper was the icing on the cake. Everyone and their mother not already at the stage quickly made a run for it — a Pitchfork wish finally fulfilled.


Pitchfork Festival 2016