Pitchfork Day 2: Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, Magdalena Bay, Karate — and a surprise appearance from Jeff Tweedy


Here’s a look at some of the sets from Saturday’s Day 2 lineup at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park:

Magdalen Bay

Magdalena Bay’s Mica Tenenbaum performs at the Pitchfork Music Festival.

One of the benefits of attending the Pitchfork Music Festival year after year is that the event is hosted by a media company that knows the best new music. As such, the popular weekend is always a very organized affair filled with some of the artists the outlet deems to be notable in their field. Example: Magdalena Bay.

The mesmerizing synthpop duo from Los Angeles, consisting of vocalist Mica Tenenbaum and producer/multi-instrumentalist Matthew Lewin (and completed by Nick Villa on drums), prepared to show why they’re hailed as one of the pop scene’s most promising crashers. . In a feisty hour-long set, they delivered solid performances of nearly every track from their groundbreaking “Mercurial World” album, including what might be the bonafide track of the summer, the boiling delight of the dance hall “You Lose!”

With a bit of hyper programming fetishism from Grimes, disco funk from Donna Summer and the babyspeak vocal style of Britney Spears from Tenenbaum, Magdalena Bay runs the gamut of pop, finding a range of listeners at any given time. on the gender spectrum. And they do it in a fun way – armed with a bag of props including boxes of silly string, “Target” crystal balls and a bunny mask or two that helped audiences let their guard down and lift arms. Seeing them in a more controlled room on their next club tour is a must.


In addition to finding these hot newcomers, Pitchfork’s tastemakers are also pretty good at pulling archives and booking true scene iconoclasts like hitherto dormant rock band Karate. Beloved underdogs of the booming indie rock league of the 90s, the trio continued to create pearls of art until 2005, when they called it quits as the members continued their personal endeavors.

This weekend’s set was one of their first appearances in 17 years, sandwiched between just eight club dates for the lucky few who see them hooked up again – and what a time it was. The band (formed in Boston) opened with the playful “Operation: Sand,” in thin formation, each song playing in frontman Geoff Farina’s whimsical metaphorical lyrical style that emanated like poetry set to music. Drummer Gavin McCarthy and bassist Jeff Goddard were a steady backing line that added to the band’s eclectic sound, a fusion of rock and jazz signatures, no more so than on “Small Fires”.

Last year, Chicago-based archival label The Numero Group reissued five of Karate’s albums, which clearly put a few ideas in the band’s head about where they fit in today’s musical landscape. As Farina dedicated the last song to his students at DePaul (where he currently teaches songwriting, lyric writing and blues history), he said, “We’ll be back.” We can only hope that we don’t have to wait another 17 years.

Japanese breakfast

Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast beats a gong wrapped in flowers during a performance of

Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast beats a gong wrapped in flowers during a performance of ‘Paprika’ at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park.

What a year it has been for the indie pop band from Philadelphia. Not only was singer Michelle Zauner’s heartwarming and breathtakingly honest debut book “Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” a New York Times bestseller upon its initial release, but Zauner -even was named one of Time’s “Most Influential People of 2022”. This all came as the band’s latest album “Jubilee” was nominated for multiple Grammys followed by an appearance on the season finale of “Saturday Night Live” in May.

There is no doubt that the group will achieve headlining status around this time next year. Not that they didn’t deliver as they already were at this point in their penultimate set on Saturday night. What’s normally a quartet nearly doubled in size for this performance, with the addition of a live horn section and a violinist who created beautiful orchestral layers on tracks like the imploring confessional “Boyish.” Prior to the emotional turn, Zauner was having the time of her life beating a flower-wrapped gong for opener “Paprika,” then was seen bouncing around the stage relentlessly for the smash hit “Be Sweet” (in a high decorated with a stuffed dog, no less). The conscientious frontwoman also stopped the set a few times when she noticed an audience member needed a doctor and thanked the crowd for “taking care of each other.”

The set’s biggest moment came with the surprise appearance of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, whom Zauner hailed as his “all-time favorite songwriter”. The two dueted beautifully to the Japanese breakfast song “Everybody Wants To Love You” before diving into a tandem treat of “Jesus, Etc.” of Wilco, with Zauner’s beaming smile mirrored by the crowd.


The screams from fans were hardly an expected reaction for dark-hearted entertainer Mitski as she closed out Saturday night in Union Park. But it makes sense. The singer-songwriter’s fanbase is, in a word, enraged, unleashing a spasm of guttural screams for her every move as she leaps onto stage against a very physical set.

Mitski’s show is no ordinary concert; it is performance art in its own right in which she uses her whole body to convey the message of her songs. To get the volatility across, the artist uses a specific type of Japanese choreography called Butoh that relies on slowed-down dramatic gestures to evoke emotion, and it’s very effective.

In the “Love Me More” opener, Mitski – bathed in theatrical dark blue light – was essentially Lady Macbeth rubbing her hands and arms as she sang, “Here is my hand, there is the itch, but I am not supposed to scratch me. And in a performance of her stellar new single ‘Working For the Knife’, she used her microphone suggestively as a mock weapon to mock slitting her throat before turning it into a tool of pleasure. Even after a brief moment of interacting with the tacky crowd, Mitski noted that she had to “get back to character,” emphasizing how seriously she takes her craft.

To think that the gifted artist nearly gave up her career a few years ago, admittedly exhausted by the spotlight and the pressure of constant creative output, only to release one of her most dynamic albums to date, “Laurel Hell” this year, is nothing short of it. breathtaking. The heavy electronic production of the new work, paired with Mitski’s eerie aura, is reminiscent of a Bjorkian style, while Mitski’s top-notch songwriting is still well preserved on every track. Done live, her perfect vocals only serve to make the songs even more polished. We can’t wait to see what she does next.


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