There was a definite tenor in the air at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival. While there was still the usual array of styles and genres—indie, folk, hip-hop, R&B, emo, electronica, and more (sometimes inside just one artist’s set—paging Bartees Strange)—there was an overarching mood this year. It was one of mellow Americana vibes, an event in which the majority of feeling and sounds were of the laid-back variety. Even when Danny Brown was rallying the audience to his ferociously uptempo set, the good feelings pervaded; maybe it’s the result of a bunch of artists finally being unleashed after a year-plus of lockdown, but in general, everyone was simply thrilled to be there, and made no bones about saying so.
As a result, the positive mood managed to sustain itself throughout the long weekend, no matter the music. And once again, The A.V. Club found itself finding the silver lining in every set, no matter the good or bad. (It was largely good; this was a very, very strong lineup.) So here are the performances that most stood out to us this year, in all their weird, noisy, messy glory. Other music fests could learn a thing or two—Pitchfork 2021 kicked ass.
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