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HYFIN Pitchfork Fest review: It ‘will live rent free in my head’

Kelela performs at the 2023 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.
Kenny Perez
Kelela performs at the 2023 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.

This year was my first time at Pitchfork Music Festival, and let me tell you: I was extremely nervous yet very excited, when I found out I was gonna be sent out on assignment to cover it for Radio Milwaukee’s social accounts.

Both teams (HYFIN and 88Nine) came together for the weekend in Chicago, and I was fortunate enough to experience the festival all three days. Here are some of my favorite moments that will live rent free in my head!

Diverse crowd and lineup

Real talk, I was preparing myself to be part of the few (Black folks) among many. That was easily debunked when I arrived on the festival grounds.

When I say the HYFIN listeners were out there, I truly mean it. The part I loved most was seeing us enjoying all genres of music in the crowd, from Nation of Language to Kelela. It was beautiful. At one point, I grabbed an interview with fellow Pitchfork attendee Jordan. I loved his reasoning for why he enjoyed attending overall.

“Pitchfork is an annual stop for me,” he explained. “I’ve been coming here, minus COVID, for a couple of years — first drawn by (experimental hip-hop group) Death Grips. I live a certain amount of ‘be the freak you want to see’. If there is any place you can do that, it’s here.”

Favorite stage moment

I stopped by the Blue stage to see Leikeli47’s show. It was a picturesque stage, perfectly covered by the trees of Union Park. Her show began as the sun was setting, and you could feel the crowd ease into the night and her performance with pure excitement. Each of Leikeli47’s songs come from a space of self-empowerment, heavily centered around indulging in self-acceptance and appreciation.

There was an extremely inclusive point in her show where she called out some of the audience members in the crowd that she felt were serving looks. Before we knew it, her stage was full of inclusive, expressive looks that made anyone in the audience feel represented in her show. Her intentional requirement to make everyone feel seen and heard was enough to make me feel moved.

Main takeaway

If you have not experienced Pitchfork Festival for yourself, GO! Release any assumptions you might have and walk into the grounds with an open mind. If you’re a person of color who might look at the lineup and quickly conclude that you can skip it, don’t be so quick to judge. You’ll find yourself missing out.

Interim Marketing Director | Radio Milwaukee