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The Best Moments From the 2022 Pitchfork Music Festival So Far

Pitchfork Music Festival 2022 is officially underway at Union Park in Chicago. You can watch at home, and each day our writers will be highlighting some of their favorite sets. 

Arooj Aftab Was a Perfect Way to Start the Fest

As Arooj Aftab wondered during the first set of Friday, would we all have to make a run for it to dodge the thunderstorm? There was no such vibe crusher (during this set at least), with a pleasant sprinkle adding to the peaceful vibe, as Aftab’s voice wafted across the park alongside an acoustic guitar and violin. At the same time, she was wildly charming. Clad in a sick metallic power jacket, Aftab playfully bragged about her recent Grammy win: “Stole that gold! Just kidding, I deserved it.” Rock star that she is, she closed with the song that cinched that gold, “Mohabbat.” —Evan Minsker


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Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq at Pitchfork Music Festival 2022. Photo by Alexa Viscius

Camp Cope’s Born-in-the-’90s Spirit

Did you catch Limp Bizkit’s set at Lollapalooza last year? Georgia Maq did, and she’s still talking about it. The Camp Cope leader leaned into a mid-to-late-’90s moment on Friday, soundchecking by singing fragments of Alanis Morissette songs and slipping Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” chorus into her own band’s neurotics-in-love song “Blue.” They’re the perfect tasting notes for Camp Cope’s own jagged-edged songs about coming to terms with life when nothing is as clean as you’d hoped. —Anna Gaca


Don’t Rain on Tierra Whack’s Parade

Rain had ruled the day by the time Tierra Whack took the stage in the late afternoon, but the Philly rapper refused to let it thwart her plans for a good show. She perched up at the front of the Red stage in short blue galoshes, lavishing crowd members with birthday shout-outs and sprinting through snippets of her colorful songs. Though Whack led the charge in reinvigorating the soaked crowd, her set’s secret MVPs were the crew members clearing swaths of rain off the stage with push brooms—a choreographed dance set to Whack’s familiar chaos. —Allison Hussey

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Dawn Richard at Pitchfork Music Festival 2022. Photo by Daniel Cavazos

Dawn Richard’s Future Nostalgia

Perhaps it was Dawn Richard’s dancers, with their LED surgical masks and Jetsons-esque bodysuits, that made her set feel beamed in from a sci-fi flick. Richard, in thigh-high boots and a stage-grazing red mane, looked like their intergalactic queen, leading them in angular choreography. Lurching between house, hard rock, and funk, Richard and her band banged out Second Line cuts like “Bussifame” and “Kid Creole.” She also peered into the past, covering ’90s classics like No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” and Sade’s “Pearls.” But her finest moment was smack in the middle of the Cranberries’ ripper “Zombie.” Richard kneeled in front of her guitarist, bending backwards as he tore through a solo inches from her face. Her shapeshifting set reaffirmed the declaration she belted during “Kid Creole”: “I don’t need a genre. I am the genre!” —Madison Bloom


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Amber Mark at Pitchfork Music Festival 2022. Photo by Julian Bajsel

Amber Mark Has Arrived

New York singer-songwriter Amber Mark’s Friday set, the evening’s last under the verdant trees of the Blue stage, felt like a breakout celebration of everything she’s achieved in the last few years—foremost the eclectic R&B heard on her debut album Three Dimensions Deep, an exquisite collection that reflects the time it took to craft. My ears perked up at her cover of Sisqó’s “Thong Song” and her nods to Chicago house, but it was her emotional depth and stunning set-closer “What It Is” that deeply resonated. I felt it in my bones: Here was a star appreciating her moment. —Marc Hogan


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The National at Pitchfork Music Festival 2022. Photo by Daniel Cavazos

The National’s Anthem

There comes a time in a band’s career where a song undergoes its final evolution into a standard. The song just is there, between the air molecules, invisible and everlasting. That’s at least how “Fake Empire” felt last night—not the most rousing barn-burner the National played—that was either classic closer “Terrible Love” or sleeper hit “England”—but it was the one that felt bigger than the band, given over to the crowd as if it was theirs. Also, Matt Berninger: I don’t know how much of your signature crowd weaving you’ve been doing over the last two years but as you start that up again, godspeed to you and your immune system. —Jeremy D. Larson

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Jeff Parker’s Weekend Benediction

Jeff Parker and the New Breed opened the day’s proceedings with a sparkling set that drew heavily from 2020’s Suite for Max Brown, bringing the songs to life with luxuriant textures. The Los Angeles-based guitarist and his band were both groovy, contemplative, and collaborative—Parker’s daughter, Ruby, sang with the group, and Ohmme’s Macie Stewart played violin in the ensemble. After Friday’s heavy rain, Parker offered a relaxed reset for a more temperate weekend, setting an especially high bar with a sublime performance of Max Brown’s “Build a Nest.” —Allison Hussey


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CupcakKe at Pitchfork Music Festival 2022. Photo by Daniel Cavazos

CupcakKe Conducted a Crowd-Wide Orgasm

After rattling off a string of expletives that would make Jenna Jameson blush, Chicago MC CupcakKe looked directly into the crowd. “This is about to be the most sexual set in this bitch,” she said, “so if you don’t know how to deepthroat, you can leave right now.” Everyone stayed put, perhaps not wanting to out themselves as blowjob-adverse as she tore through nasty bops like “Duck Duck Goose,” “Quiz,” and “Squidward Nose,” while rhyming more words with “vagina” than any living rapper. During her final song “CPR,” she led the crowd in a series of synchronized moans, which crescendoed like one unified orgasm. For the Poet Laureate of filth, making us come was easy. —Madison Bloom


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Iceage at Pitchfork Music Festival 2022. Photo by Daniel Cavazos

Iceage Rule and Are Hot

With my critical faculties sharpened to a dangerously sharp point, I typed the words “God Iceage rule” into my Notes app right around the time the suave Danes were playing their first hit “White Rune,” though it was more a cumulative effect after hearing the crowd scream along to their perfect song “The Lord’s Favorite” and not perfect but still great “Catch It.” At the time, I wondered, knowing I had to write about this set, if I would be able to refine this “Iceage rule” idea with anything else, and so I typed “and are hot” adding some dimension to the thought. That felt right, essential, and categorically true. I could turn that into something. —Jeremy D. Larson

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Low’s Hey What-Era Live Show As a Late Evening Caffeine Boost

“It’s an honor to be playing along to Japanese Breakfast for you,” Low’s Alan Sparhawk said as Michelle Zauner’s music lingered from the other end of Union Park. The presence of all other music was soon obliterated by the sound of Hey What’s “White Horses.” A festival volunteer walking through the crowd asked if I wanted an unopened can of cold brew; I bagged it, but didn’t need it. After “Days Like These” literally reverberated in my chest, and after their riveting closing performance of the 20-year-old Trust single “Canada,” I was as energized as I’ve been all weekend. —Evan Minsker


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Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner at Pitchfork Music Festival 2022. Photo by Alexa Viscius

Jeff Tweedy Joins Japanese Breakfast to Perform Wilco’s “Jesus, Etc.”

Like any artist with an onstage gong, Michelle Zauner has a knack for show-stopping moments. Last night, she brought out Jeff freaking Tweedy, the Wilco frontman and Chicago hometown hero whom Zauner introduced as “my favorite songwriter of all time.” Tweedy added gruff, teddy-bear vocals to the indie-pop lilt of “Kokomo, IN” from Japanese Breakfast’s enduring 2021 album Jubilee, then led Philly’s finest through an aching rendition of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot classic “Jesus, Etc.” Jbrekkie’s set, which built toward the “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”-adjacent krautrock guitar heroics of “Diving Woman,” was a thrill in its own right; the collaboration with Tweedy made it “a special one,” as Zauner put it. —Marc Hogan


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Mitski at Pitchfork Music Festival 2022. Photo by Daniel Cavazos

Mitski’s Theater of Emotion

Mitski musical? Mitski dance album? Her headlining Saturday night set transformed the park into a theater of high drama, soaring through “Geyser” and “The Only Heartbreaker” and slinky, disco-inflected takes on “Nobody” and “Stay Soft.” Her stylized choreography, a painstaking not-quite-a-dance solo that takes her to every corner of the main stage, can make it appear as if she’s conducting the orchestra of her emotions. Staged in front of the looming outline of a door that never opened, Mitski’s elliptical, energetically charged songs feel like they’re asking to join a jukebox musical about a woman living at the edge of a volcano. —Anna Gaca

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