Ryan Berry/Staff Photographer

Pitchfork in review

Here are our thoughts on the performers after this year's indie fest.

By Ryan Berry | Aug. 6, 2013

Tags: Festivals Music Reviews


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More than two weeks have passed since the end of Pitchfork Music Festival 2013, and the lasting impressions have finally begun to set in. Throughout the weekend, surprise followed surprise as the lineup of artists proved to be one of the best that Pitchfork has ever seen.

Honorable Mentions

Beyoncé's sister showed that she is not simply a lesser version of her older sibling. Solange emphatically danced her way through a wonderful set with hints of pop inspiration, making Union Park groove from start to finish.

Angel Olsen
Singer-songwriter Angel Olsen brought a voice to the stage that matched the beauty of her recordings. While she seemed a bit out of place on a large stage, her style of music was perfect for an intimate moment during an otherwise hectic weekend.

Belle and Sebastian
The Glasgow-based group defined baroque pop during their Saturday headlining set with more than 10 people on stage, all seemingly performing in their own little world. The combination of all the musicians on stage gave birth to a lighthearted and skillful performance.

Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo, a crowd favorite at Pitchfork, was as impressive as people built them up to be: they put forth an eclectic sound that varied from classic indie rock to shoegaze. The one thing that stayed consistent throughout the act was their ability to please.

Top Five Acts

5. Toro Y Moi
Chaz Bundick proved why he was invited back to Pitchfork just two years after performing at the fest in 2011. The sound during his live set was distinctly more active than his studio recordings, which made for a very lively performance that kept the crowd happy and dancing. His was not just a “push and play” DJ set — Bundick’s musical talents were on full display for all to see.

4. Killer Mike
The man who debuted with OutKast in 2000 has become a very solid rapper who puts on a great show. Throughout his set, Killer Mike enjoyed himself, but also brought to light many social and political issues that hit close to his fans. Killer Mike’s message has a lasting impression, and that is what makes his music so universal and worthwhile.

3. Low
When a band is known for their live performances, it often becomes difficult to live up to the expectation. For Low, however, it seems to be a welcoming challenge. Three people on stage – Alan Sparhawk with an electric guitar, Mimi Parker on drums and Steve Garrington with a bass and keyboard – is all Low needs to create a live sound unlike any other. The harmonies between Sparhawk and Parker have been compared to Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons (minus the country twang), and Sparkhawk’s lead guitar is reminiscent of the great guitarists of the '60s and '70s. Needless to say, Low surpasses expectations and is well deserving of their recognition as a terrific live band.

2. R. Kelly
Sunday night’s headlining act lived up to any and all expectations that could have possibly been placed upon him. Beginning with “Ignition (Remix)” and ending with “I Believe I Can Fly” (along with some 30-odd songs in between), R. Kelly dazzled tens of thousands of onlookers with his sensual beats and silky voice. The magical performance was only enhanced by the deluge of lasers, balloons (some shaped like doves), smoke machines and witty comments by Mr. Kelly himself. The 46-year-old single-handedly put on the most joyous and entertaining performance of the weekend, and proved that he is an absolute must-see for any music lover.

1. Joanna Newsom
The absolute gem of Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 came in the form of a bubbly woman with her harp and her piano. Joanna Newsom was the only act all weekend that managed to completely silence Union Park with her music. To call her sound magical is an understatement. With a voice as delicate as a child’s and the eloquence and precision of her harp, Newsom sang and played her heart out, leaving thousands upon thousands of people stunned by an ethereal musical experience. The performance was on a level unsurpassable by the other artists at this year’s festival. Newsom rarely tours, so consider it a gift from the gods if you ever get a chance to see her perform.

Pitchfork Media showed, once again, why they are at the highest level of trendiness in the music world. The festival featured music for everyone: rap, indie rock, dubstep, metal, chillwave – every genre and more was featured during the weekend. If you’ve ever desired to find new music, look no further — whether it’s an act featured on this list, or another artist who performed at Pitchfork 2013, the festival will always have new music for everyone to discover.

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