Day two of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago included some early breakout performances, curious sets from veteran acts and punishing humidity throughout the day. However, most of Saturday afternoon (July 17) felt like a wait for headliners LCD Soundsystem, who offered a thrilling, career-spanning set after the sun had finally set on Union Park.
James Murphy said very little to the crowd in between songs, but the LCD frontman owned the stage as he shimmied under flashing purple lights and a giant disco ball. Backed by an incredibly meticulous five-piece band, including keyboardist Nancy Whang and guitarist David Scott Stone, Murphy led a raucous version of “Movement” before rattling off the hipster-baiting lyrics of “Losing My Edge.” The crowd treated Murphy like a rock god in turn, putting their lighters up for “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” and singing along as the song ended with a somber cover of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.”
Panda Bear offered a polarizing performance an hour earlier, with the Animal Collective member’s abstract songwriting and trippy visual show seeming out of place at the festival. Montreal indie rockers Wolf Parade proved more successful, with a set that showcased their new album “Expo 86” as well as older gems, like the songs “I’ll Believe in Anything” and “This Heart’s On Fire.”
Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon took the stage 15 minutes late due to sound problems with his DJ’s equipment, and the first half of his set was plagued by more technical malfunctions, as many of his songs skipped or stopped cold. “Put one hand up if this shit is pissing you off!” the rapper said, as his crew tried to figure out what was wrong with the turntable. Once the sound problems were fixed, Raekwon brought out his secret weapon to recapture the crowd: four adolescent break dancers from Chi-Town Finest Breakers. The kids spun on their heads as Rae ran through “Protect Ya Neck” and “New Wu,” and one of the most disappointing performances of the day became one of the most memorable.
Spanish four-piece Delorean delivered 45 minutes of highly enjoyable dance-rock, including their gorgeous anthem “Seasun,” earlier in the afternoon. Philly rockers Free Energy kicked off the day with hook-heavy songs from debut album “Stuck on Nothing,” which was produced by none other than LCD Soundsystem’s Murphy.
The weekend-long fest’s second day — which also included sets by punk upstarts Titus Andronicus, buzzworthy rapper Freddie Gibbs and alt-rock veterans Jon Spencer Blues Explosion — was marred by extremely high temperatures that had concertgoers seeking relief in the shade. Festival organizers slashed the price of water to $1 and continually passed out bottles from the front of the main stages.