My plan for day 2 at Pitchfork was eerily similar to my plan for day 1-get in a little late and get out a little early. I wanted to show up around tea time to check out South London’s Dry Cleaning on the Green Stage. That’s basically what happened, except I got there about half an hour early because my assistant’s sister had sent a photo from the Yeule show at Thalia Hall on Friday. After seeing that, I knew I had to photograph their set.
I knew nothing of Yeule’s music before seeing them on stage, but viewing the detailed outfit and perfectly applied makeup and accessories, it was obvious that this artist has a vision. They stood on the stage for what seemed like a lifetime, back to the audience, building anticipation. It was performance 101, but when an artist nails it, there’s nothing better. Sadly, Yeule played at 4 and Dry Cleaning was on at 4:15, so I was only able to stay for the first song. I would love to photograph them again, so hopefully they come back soon.
I made it to the Green Stage just in time to head in as Dry Cleaning took the stage. Florence Shaw was wearing this delicious chartreuse jacket over an emerald green dress. It was like Kermit the Frog had wandered onto the pages of The Wizard Of Oz. The tornado of guitar, bass, and drums rhythmically flying us away.
I got into Dry Cleaning last year when they put out New Long Leg. There’s something about the dryness of the spoken word delivered by Shaw and the sonic swirling from Tom Dowse, Lewis Maynard, and Nick Buxton. They put out a new single earlier this year and have a new full-length coming in the fall. I can’t wait to hear what they have in store, because they’ve really captured me with their style.
Finally there was a break in the action (as far as my schedule was concerned) and I was able to check out the food vendors and the VIP area. Had to stop to get my assistant one of the Japanese Breakfast/Goose Island collab Be Sweet lagers, with persimmon flavor. Proceeds from the beer are being donated to Heart of Dinner in New York, which helps elderly Asian-Americans experiencing food insecurity. I’m not a beer guy, but I tried it and my thoughts are: “It’s fine.” Assistant liked it quite a bit.
Lucy Dacus was up next and, honestly, I like Lucy Dacus-Home Video was on my best of list last year-but it’s not a terribly exciting set to photograph. Sounded good, and I was happy to see Sarah Goldstone on keys, who I met when she was playing with Hurray For The Riff Raff, but it was a bit slow for a festival. There were certainly a lot of people up front that were stoked, and Lucy was very happy to be playing to a bigger crowd than the last time she did Pitchfork.
Finally the time came for Japanese Breakfast to start on the Red Stage. I had wedged myself inbetween two other photographers so that I could have a good view on the gong, which features heavily in “Paprika,” the opener for Michelle Zauner’s album Jubilee, and the opener at her live shows. It’s a real joy taking pictures at a Japanese Breakfast show-good outfits, fun poses, interesting lights…everything you can hope for in a live music setting.
There were a couple issues throughout the set as far as the crowd goes. The show was stopped multiple times to give medics a chance to get to people who needed help. This year, more than any other, it seemed like there was a real effort by the artists to be aware of what was going on in the audience. And everyone in the crowd was good about making room and letting the workers get to where they were needed.
I saw Japanese Breakfast at a previous Pitchfork, and again more recently when they played a few sold out nights at Thalia Hall. Zauner’s energy is infectious and you can tell that they really love to play together. An added bonus this time around was an appearance by Jeff Tweedy! He put out a cover of their track “Kokomo, IN” last week on his substack, and the band played Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival earlier this year, so it wasn’t that big of a shock for him to play with them. Still, in my eyes it was the definitive moment of the fest.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Last but certainly not least on Day 2 was Mitski, headlining the Green Stage after playing the smallest stage just a few years ago. Laurel Hell is my number one album of the year to this point, so you could imagine my disappointment when I found out that photographers were only allowed to shoot from the sides in our limited pit time. Well, it wasn’t great. I made due and got a couple pretty good ones and a few just ok. That’s fine. As always, I’m just happy to be there.
The people watching Mitski were eating up every movement she made, screaming and cheering with every swing of her arms. It was almost more fun to see their reactions than it was to watch the stage. I took this opportunity to get the duck fat fries from Beat Kitchen for my dinner and I enjoyed them (so good!) from about as far away as you could get and still be in the park. Still hearing every synthy beat.
I rejoined the crowd for “The Only Heartbreaker,” which is one of the finest tunes of the last couple years.
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