Pitchfork Music Festival 2019: Day 1

I’ve never really considered the sun an enemy, but yesterday came pretty close. With a heat index reaching 111 degrees, it was difficult to not at least feel a little annoyance at the gaseous ball that keeps the planet habitable (for how long, who knows). I soaked through my shirt pretty quick, but also caught some great music. A compromise I’m willing to make 99.9 percent of the time.

I didn’t show up for the very first set, but I was there by 2:45 to catch Rico Nasty. I couldn’t believe how many people showed up in the heat to see her early set, and they were all going wild. That would’ve been my only set of the day if I were going wild like them. Rico did a good job of setting a fast tempo early and kept it going.

I ran over to the red stage for Valee, who appeared on stage at first with a chihuahua with dyed-red hair. Is Valee the hip-hop Elle Woods? Like his Harvard counterpart, I didn’t laugh at him once so the comparison might not be bad. His set was good, but lacked the energy of Rico’s.

Sky Ferreira hasn’t played a show in a long while, so I was interested to see what she was going to do. The wait was longer than normal as the set started 20 minutes late. Even with the delay there were constant sound issues with the stage monitors. The music was stopped several times in the middle of a song because she couldn’t hear anything. When they did make it through a song, it was solid. She covered “Voices Carry” by Til Tuesday, which was pretty cool.

The last time Earl Sweatshirt was scheduled to play Pitchfork he had to pull out following his father’s death. His performance back in 2014 was the first thing I ever photographed at the fest, so I’ll always have fond memories of Earl. He started off with some bangers but slowed it down after a few and the rest of the set was very laid back. Perhaps a symptom of the oppressive heat.

Pusha T came out on fire (but not from the heat) and didn’t let up for his full hour. Last time I saw him at the festival he was delayed quite a bit and only played for 15-20 minutes. He made up for that plus some by bringing the frenzied Daytona pace to the stage.

I ended my day with Mavis Staples, and I couldn’t think of a better way to leave a music festival. She sounded amazing, had a great band, and talked trash about “Orangeface” a few times. Literally could not ask for anything more. It’s a testament to her quality as a performer that a bunch of kids were dancing to music written 50 years ago and being performed by someone in their 80’s. She sings in a universal truth to which everyone can relate.

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