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Pitchfork 2016 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

on July 19, 2016, 12:00am
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The Hotelier

Most Enthusiastic Pogoing

the hotelier Pitchfork 2016 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

“I see the moon and the moon sees me,” Christian Holden sang on “N 43° 33′ 55.676″ W 72° 45′ 11.914″”, over a gentle guitar and the ubiquitous rap air horn. Or wait, that was from the other stage across the park. That’s the danger of a festival, though, the bleed between stages ruining more tender moments. That didn’t stop the teens and thirtysomethings alike from living in their emo moment, pogoing and moshing to “Soft Animal” and “An Introduction to the Album”. The moment was not lost on Holden, either: “Can someone take a picture of me on the Jumbotron so I can put it on my Instagram?” he wondered aloud, in the midst of the latter. When The Hotelier hit their stride, they proved they’re worthy of an upgrade to the bigger stages next time around. –Adam Kivel


Empress Of

Most Courageous Solo Set

Empress Of // Photo by Kris Fuentes Cortes

Empress Of was the first performer on Sunday — though definitely not of the weekend — to feel the burn of the Blue Stage delays, starting over a half-hour late. Her live setup is pretty bare-bones, leaving her alone up there to carry a little too much of the substantial load that her 2015 debut album, Me, suggests of an Empress Of show. Still, Lorely Rodriguez poured every ounce of herself into that microphone, capitalizing on the few extra fans that she earned one day before at her brief cameo with Blood Orange — and throwing in a jarring, but fun “Under Pressure” sample near the end to boot. –Steven Arroyo



Most Notes Per Second

Thundercat // Photo by Kris Fuentes Cortes

Another victim of multiplying delays at the Blue Stage that caused it to eventually fall behind schedule by exactly one full set, Thundercat kept calm and professional, greeting his (surprisingly teenage?) audience, lightly teasing them for smelling weird, and thanking them for their patience while his band completed sound check. The “Thun-Der-Cat!” chants came and went twice over as fans waited restlessly to be razzle-dazzled by the most technically gifted six-string bass player ever hosted here, who still managed to uphold the excitement surrounding the jazz-heaviest Pitchfork roster in several years, executing a few songs with just enough jam extension on each to leave everyone satisfied. –Steven Arroyo


BJ the Chicago Kid

Smoothest Reference to Grade School

bj the chicago kid   kris fuentes cortes 4 Pitchfork 2016 Festival Review: From Worst to Best
“In case you didn’t know I was on these songs, let me take you to first grade,” BJ the Chicago Kid offered in the midst of teasing small chunks of a bunch of big collaborations he’s been involved in. As someone who’s worked with Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, ScHoolboy Q, and more, that’s a top-tier school. But despite all of those big personalities, the true highlights of the set came from BJ’s own tunes, especially the satiny “Love Inside” and the dizzying “Church”, the R&B star hammering away at a kettle drum and crooning for all the ladies at the Blue Stage. –Adam Kivel


Kevin Morby

Best Psych-Folk Career Relaunch

kevin morby   kris fuentes cortes 3 Pitchfork 2016 Festival Review: From Worst to Best
This was Kevin Morby’s first Pitchfork appearance under his own name, but actually his third overall; he’s performed twice here in the past as the bassist for Woods, who would make appearance number three on the same stage as him exactly 24 hours later. Morby and his band showed no signs of roughness around the edges, having perfected the subdued psych-folk of his recent Singing Saw on their current world tour. But it was his responsibly wide-brimmed hat that stole the show, right up until it flew off his head as he bounced a little too zealously mid-jam. –Steven Arroyo


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