Photography by Bobby Talamine
Writing by Fiza Javid
Here we are at day three of Pitchfork Music Festival 2021, and while the audience was exhausted, we were in for major surprises throughout the day. The first began with Special Interest from New Orleans, which through all the intense fatigue of the pilgrimage that is making it to day three, Alli Logout, the vocals of this punk band, hit us with a bang.
She was immediately fierce, industrial, and a dark wave synth, igniting a mosh pit as powerful as her vocals. The sound was heavy and transfixing, and her voice boomed to the crowd. Sure, we all scrambled to get to day three, it's hot and exhausting, until this band woke me up. She was the perfect rock n roll vibe, and she was humping the floor wedge, sending the audience on a frenzy.
She definitely is on my top 5 for this day. The day continued on with Oso Oso and Andy Shauf, who had a lovely set, definition of lo-fi.
Flying Lotus' EDM brought the noise with a DJ set, with incredible poise. This is what festival vibes is all about. As he finished his set, Thundercat came on and they gave each other big hugs. What was incredible about that moment is due to the fact that Flying Lotus mentored Thundercat through conceptual music and art, and to see them both on stage is an artistic feat, and they deserve all the recognition.
Mariah the Scientist? What can I say, she is another example of incredible music that fits the mold, and she gave the audience a lot to appreciate.
Throughout this day I was torn. Why? Two words: Yves Tumor. Yves was among the top 3 performances of the entire festival. Yves was KEY, huge, and as I was watching backstage, Yves was preparing for their set. Decked out with a Slipknot shirt, 6 feet tall, hot pants, thigh high boots, a fur jacket...becoming more renegade rock n roll as the moments passed. Yves was fronted by a full out rock band, and this is what got me. Timing.
Why on earth, at 5:15, was Thundercat scheduled the same time as Yves Tumor? Who can a photographer cover? Both were incredible.
I decided to photograph Yves Tumor first, and I think this was the correct move.
Here was the moment we were all waiting for, and boy were we waiting. Erykah Badu was running late, but thankfully we didn't wait too long. The time passed was transfixing and cool. She arrived at the Green Stage, which was around the time Flying Lotus ended their set. This made the crowd more anxious....until she arrived.
And you could hear a pin drop.
Everyone calmed down and was thrilled for her. Fans holding up pictures of her signature look, as she shined on stage. It was so silent and peaceful that the audience could hear the locusts and trees from afar. The audience was completely chill. That moment was everything and I began to take a deep breath and reflect.
Here we were, in this moment, still in the middle of a pandemic, and for a moment we all felt, "everything is going to be okay, even if it's just for these 20 minutes." She opened with a discreet video of bumble bees, since she's an avid environmental activist and she she also sees Veganism as the definition of soul.
I also thought back to Mavis Staples, who is more gospel, and was just as cool in 1964 as she is now. She and Erykah are timeless no matter the age. Erykah Badu exuded a world of goodness and empowerment. The ten gallon hat, the ornament tree, all the jewelry, and it is all on purpose. It's deliberately done for the art. The first picture of her is the moment she entered the stage. She turned her head right and just stayed in that pose to look at Pitchfork.
It was such a powerful entrance. She was finally present but she was ever so present, and boy was it a gift. She was so naturally cool.
She took a few steps and stopped to look around. She's a natural. Ephemeral. She is here with a statement. She is art, isn't fooling herself, she doesn't need social media or videos but she is a statement and a true artist. The way she stood still and looked at the crowd, only her head felt like a musical spell.
Through her originals, what was incredible was her cover as well. She covered "Hello It's Me", originally by Todd Rundgren in the early 70s. Rundgren himself was a very influential singer songwriter, unknown back then, and he stood out as a white guy attempting R&B. As Erykah sang that song, I knew it was that song immediately. It didn't matter who wrote that song, or race, she did it for the music. Race transcends all music, and she added more soul to it. That is not a knock on Rundgren though. It's a continuation of an incredible song, and he would have loved it, that this powerful woman covered this song. Major highlight of the festival. That moment was an ode to how music transcends time.
Other songs included "Soldier," "Love of My Life" (an ode to Hip Hop), "Appletree" and "Mr. Telephone Man." Among her finale songs were "Bag Lady" and "Tyrone," and again, it was such a transcending experience that the crowd was immersed in the beauty of the music.
I couldn't be more grateful to witness such a powerful end to Pitchfork's festival season.
Until next year,
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television