More than 40 bands played Pitchfork Music Festival during July 14-16 in Union Park, keeping everyone guessing what would happen next. It was an opportune time to discover new music and see acts perform their craft live.
Photographing the performances was challenging, with many of the musicians showing their true colors by providing stipulations for the press. Here are some of the behind-the-scenes moments that a casual watcher would have missed.
LCD Soundsystem previously played at Pitchfork in 2010, with photographers required to wear special armbands to shoot pictures in front of the stage, only permitting the first two songs before the press was escorted out. James Murphy and the gang ( including Gavin Russom, who recently came out as a transgender woman ) are not retiring anytime soon, so there will be more opportunities in the future, I'm sure.
There were also many stipulations instituted for acts such as George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, English singer PJ Harvey and headliner Solange Knowles ( possible aware of the well-known unflattering photographs of her sister ( Beyonce ) in the past ). The problem with that concept is any teenager with a cell phone can take a bad snapshot and release it out into the world.
During A Tribe Called Quest's set, the photo pit was packed to almost the same level as the frenzied fans in front of the barricade. The press had to exit out backstage to the VIP area instead of the original entrance for safety concerns.
The Blue Stage on the side made a better vantage point to see many acts strut their stuff. Stranger Things soundtrack masters Survive created a wall of sound that blasted spectators hair back if they could be so close. Francis Starlite covered every angle, even awkwardly climbing a tree while sounding much like a young Peter Gabriel in performance. DJ Madlib had the crowds dancing in the shaded and comfortable area to his tunes. This all made for a much more relaxed atmosphere on the south side of the festival.
Pitchfork Music Festival continues to push the envelope in innovation and surprises, keeping everyone on their toes each year, as does its stars. Hopefully, photographers AND attendees will be able to enjoy artists in all their glory next year.
Photos and text by Jerry Nunn