Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
Edited by Fiza Javid
Off and on Rain.
Sometimes persistent and heavier kind of rain, followed by a lighter version of that.
And this scenario played out off an on up until Jason Pierce of Spiritualized and his set later in the early evening.
Rain is not a friend to photographers.
You literally have to cover everything, just to at least keep picture taking manageable to some extent, let alone your person.
But there's lots to be grateful for- you're not alone in this latest edition of the Pitchfork Music Festival, and by all accounts, the demeanor of said fellow photographers and fellow writers is glass half full, not glass half empty.
So we're going to start from the bottom up to the headliner The National, giving you a brief account of the festivities, and bands of note.
Have to start off with SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE- A band revered not just by fellow music hounds, but also fellow bands and artists as well.
They can cover lots of ground when performing live- morphing into way so cool post punk territory one minute, then veer into experimental noise the next.
And also while not sounding the least bit fake- it's clear their hearts in all this is in the right place when attempting all of these genres of music with a set that left me intently focused for most of their set before having to vanish off to catch some of Monaleo at the Blue Stage.
Which yet again, you have to give the fine folks at Pitchfork a round of applause to book meaningful bands early in the schedule, year in and year out, making each and every day attending Pitchfork a real treat.
As far as Monaleo- a late edition to replace Tkay Maidza- She's honest- I'll give her that. Nervous veering out to soak in the audience in attendance before she even plays her first song, taking some deep breaths, then doing her best to command the stage, prancing about to her major hit "Beating Down Yo Block", amongst others. Even at an early age, she knows how to come out of the gates swinging, even with a persistent rain taking hold.
Up next is Wiki, a rapper and record producer hailing from New York City, with an attitude that comes off laissez faire- but in reality is anything but.
And the crowd for Wiki- pretty impressive, even amongst the raindrops, performing at 3:30 in the afternoon.
Up next is Spelling, which is actually Tia Cabral- an experimental pop musician from Oakland California, who embraces a wide variety of musical tastes, as evidenced with serious background vocalists, let alone a crafty band to flush out her progressive and electronic leanings, done with great taste, and a dark fashion sense to boot.
Then off I go to dry off a bit, regain my composure, and head back to the Blue Stage to catch a bit of Camp Cope's set- an Australian alternative rock trio fronted by fearless Georgia Maq McDonald- and as a trio, know how to swing for the fences with a steady and sturdy best of indie, mixed with a bit of punk thrown in for good measure. And that voice from Georgia Maq- can go full throttle at a moment's notice.
Then a breather between rain drops to get my senses back, and off to Tierra Whack- a rapper from Philadelphia, who even though felt somewhat uncomfortable performing in the rain, made it clear she was having a hard time dialing down her performance without slipping and sliding on the Red Stage- to the point where the Pitchfork crew periodically came out to weegee the rain off the stage as best they could.
But perform she does, to the point of stopping sporadically to announce birthday wishes from stage left to stage right.
Clearly Tierra Whack is an inspired gal- and motivated no matter what the circumstances mother nature throws at you.
Now comes one of the highlights for me for the day- Parquet Courts from New York City- a band that has played Pitchfork before, and a band that knows how to squeeze out noise pop mixed with electronic noise followed by feedback mixed with disdained vocal with nary a weak link in the bunch.
And the crowd in attendance knows this too- veering off into demented land, courtesy of Andrew Savage, who can talk over anything sound wise, followed by brief yelps of what the fucks.
As much as they can be contained a bit between whichever song, they also can at a moments notice unleash the hounds when provoked, especially with heavy hitter songs in your catalog such as "Stoned and Starving".
Songs such as this never get old, including newer material such as "Plant Life", which is in the mold of straightforward Parquet Courts.
Then comes Dawn Richard, hailing from New Orleans, with red blazing hair down to "here", and with a fashion sense that is sophisticated nasty, as well as her performance, with two backup dancers that push the envelope with moves, even on such a minimal stage in yet more rain.
As far as Jason Pierce and his band Spiritualized- although minimal photographers allowed- listened to some of his set from the audience, and like past years when performing in Chicago, he still sits down when performing, and plays as best he can, what with all of his health issues the poor guy has faced over the years.
To even see him walk out onto the stage is a treat in itself, let alone start off with "Hey Jane", into "She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit)', which is improvising daydream / intense kind of stuff.
Finally back to the Blue Stage, to catch the multi-faceted Amber Mark, who knows how to command a stage and swing to sophisticated R&B, and all around catchy alternative R&B.
And finally we hit the headliner of Day One- The National, a band to this very day have set the mark with unabashed sincerity and honesty, with a songcraft that holds up without sounding and feeling dated.
And that says lots, between the Dessner brothers and the Devendorf brothers, fronted by Matt Berninger.
Yes, they have a sophisticated LED backdrop and specialized lighting kind of show- but it says something altogether when you can turn your head away from the stage and look out at the large audience, and soak in a song such as the heartfelt "I Need My Girl", and visualize your own personal scope of things music wise, personal feelings wise- not performance wise.
It's magical songwriting, done with thought in mind, like most of The National's songs, with words and imagery that make you disappear and forget and immerse- like reading a captivating novel, and you don't want to be disturbed.
Opening with their standards "Don't Swallow the Cap", into "Mistaken for Strangers", and then of course "Bloodbuzz Ohio"- how's that for a one/ two/ three punch!
17 songs in total, and then before you know it, the show is over.
Nothing like dark and heartfelt melancholy on a Saturday night, especially after a day of on and off rain followed by misty humidity.
Have to say Day One of Pitchfork 2022 was memorable- all positives (rain included) - not negatives.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago