photos: Pitchfork Midwinter Chicago
Pitchfork‘s first-ever Midwinter Festival graced the beautiful Art Institute of Chicago over the weekend, boasting a formidable and diverse lineup that featured Jlin, Deerhunter, DJ Koze, Yves Tumor, Slowdive, Zola Jesus, Kamasi Washington, Joey Purp, and many more…
The museum made for an absolutely ideal venue for this kind of adventurously curated festival, with the major caveat being that I had a press pass that allowed me to move freely about the entire space. It was an ambitious concept for a music fest that ended up being an incredibly unique and enjoyable experience in my case, but I imagine that for some paying fest-goers, this thing got prohibitively expensive real quick, since virtually every show required the purchase of a base ticket plus an add-on ticket for each respective show.
Some highlights: Grouper performed an entrancing and transcendent set that included a few rarely played classics (relatively obscure 2011 b-side “Moving Machine“, and 2016 single “Headache” aka the most beautiful song ever), her hushed, exquisitely spectral vocals wafting in and out of a haze of decayed tape loops, guitar and upright piano. Incredibly moving as always, and hypnotically soporific in the best way. Panda Bear dropped Person Pitch classic “Comfy in Nautica” alongside some dancier/heavier Homies tracks played in the wall-shaking, chest-rattling manner and cavernous space in which they were intended to be heard, as well as mixing in a few from his beautiful new record Buoys, complemented as always by trippy psychedelic visuals from his regular collaborator/homie Danny Perez.
Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering played a delightfully stripped back set that allowed her soaring voice to shine, as she performed songs from her stellar forthcoming album Titanic Rising and a devastating “God Only Knows” cover, JPEGMAFIA fucked the Chicago Stock Exchange room UP with an exhilarating/exhausting set, Norwegian duo Smerz confounded and thrilled with their experimental club-pop, and tbh you can’t really beat seeing intimate unannounced pop-up shows from the likes of Laurie Anderson, Sudan Archives, Perfume Genius, and Weyes Blood in the middle of the American Art wing, surrounded by priceless masterpieces (as seen in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). We’ll be back next year for sure, if they’ll have us.