Day 3 of Pitchfork just ended with a headlining set by The Roots. I’m sure it was great, but I spent the day at home editing a couple thousand pictures that I took over the first two days of the fest. It’s crazy, but every year I tell myself I’m going to take less photos and make it easy, and every year I stick the SD cards in the computer and watch as hundreds and hundreds of shots upload. This year I went another step further, limiting how many artists I photographed to a select few that I really wanted to see.
Spiritualized, the band I wanted to see most on the first day of the festival, chose a few select photographers to shoot their set. I, being the small potatoes I am (though, I think I get pretty good pics), was not included. So that means I should have even less to go through. And yet, here we are. It took me 8 hours of working pretty consistently to winnow it down to what I have for you to enjoy.
The lineup, as usual, had some artists I really wanted to see and some I either didn’t know or didn’t care about. After thinking it over, I decided to start with Indigo DeSouza on the Green Stage at 4:15 on Friday. It’s a late enough start that I could eat lunch and get all my gear ready, but not so late that the day was wasted. I’ve been a fan of Indigo’s since I saw her open for Frances Quinlan at Sleeping Village a couple years ago. I was really excited when I heard she had signed to Saddle Creek for her most recent album, Any Shape You Take.
The weather chose chaos just before Indigo hit the stage, so I was forced to take photos wearing a poncho and with my lenses covered up in plastic to avoid damage. Not the best way to start things off, but Indigo De Souza didn’t let a little rain stop her from putting on a great set for those willing to brave the elements.
Before Indigo ended her set I started to head over to the Blue Stage for Camp Cope. I didn’t know much about the Australian band before seeing them live, but I had heard a couple songs which were enough to convince me they were worth checking out. They were soundchecking when I got there, but the security guy let me in the pit and I listened to them test their equipment and get the right levels, all while they played “You Learn” by Alanis Morissette.
Camp Cope have been outspoken about women’s rights and equality since the group formed, and this show was no different. Lead singer Georgia McDonald brought up the recent Roe v Wade bs and checked to make sure everyone in attendance was pro-choice (seemed to be unanimous). They’ve also spoken out on America’s obsession with guns in their music. During their set they had to stop twice for medics to come out and help people, and they were the first to point out who was in need from the stage. All around, they made a good first impression.
I hung around the Blue Stage after Camp Cope’s set so that I wouldn’t miss Dawn Richard again. She’s played the festival before, and for whatever reason I never catch her show. So, this year I had it all figured out. Thankfully, I didn’t have anything come up last second and I was able to see a little bit of her set.
You might remember Dawn from her days in Danity Kane, the Making The Band tv show group that put out some bangers in the late 2000’s. While DK’s heyday is over, Richard is still getting it done musically. She puts on an electric show with great dancers and fun tunes, including a crazy cover of “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. The performance was a feast for the eyes and ears, with great costumes and dancing to go along with the music.
Spiritualized was up next, and since I couldn’t take pictures, I just found myself a nice spot up front to listen. They didn’t play two songs I was really hoping for, but the band sounded fantastic. The guitars were hopping and skipping over one another, and the background singers provided some sweet harmony. I was at J Spaceman’s back the whole time, so I never really got to see his face, but I could hear him sing and that was all I needed.
Headlining the first day of the festival was The National. Originally scheduled to headline the 2020 fest that was canceled due to Covid, Matt Berninger and the boys were back and ready to go. Pretty much everything there is to say about The National has been said, so I’ll just say this: from about 2008-2017, I pretty much wrote the band off. Saw them play on the Boxer tour, thought it was great, then everything they put out just kinda sounded the same to me. Saw the Mistaken For Strangers doc when it came out in 2013, which I loved. And then Sleep Well Beast, which I think was a major move in the right direction for the band. So I was happy to see them again and they were great.