It was a Pitchfork for the ages.

Panties were thrown, weather advisories were read in an Icelandic accent, and on stage references to Ellen Degeneres and Regis Philbin filled the air.

With record numbers and unusually diverse crowd (search the twitter hashtag #blackfork), the folks behind the three-day fest really hit it out of the park this year. Writers Elly Fishman, Tomi Obaro, and Erin Osmon roamed Union Park collecting quotes, interviewing artists, and reviewing shows while photographers Clayton Houck and Ray Whitehouse documented the stars and their indie fans.

Here is the best and worst of the weekend.


Only the otherworldly Icelandic chanteuse could teleport a sea of packed-in, sweaty festival attendees to a mythical place where everyone is happy and hugging instead of pushing and shoving…

R. Kelly
…unless of course, you’re R. Kelly. The R&B king needs no introduction, but will give you one anyway, in the form of a 60-second countdown voiced by postmodern take on the great and powerful Oz. His “grown-man sexy show” included no less than an appearance by a full gospel choir, glittery everything and a fleet of dove-shaped balloons. Oh and his pipes sounded great, too.

By contrast: A stunning act that doesn’t rely on anything but perfectly executed sonic assaults and a commanding frontwoman? Yes, please.

Killer Mike and El-P
“I love you, you fat bastard!” El-P gushed to his cohort near the end of their surprise collaborative set as Run the Jewels. And how could anyone who witnessed Mike’s earlier solo set on the Green stage not love the Atlanta rapper? His earnest pleas for community and brotherhood were a welcome dose of real talk. He took us to church and spit masterful, conscious rhymes.

The slam dancing guy
Anyone who’s spent time in the Chicago music scene knows whom I’m talking about. I don’t know the guy, but I do know that he custom shreds his own t-shirts, wears kneepads and joyfully slam dances (without hurting anyone) with abandon.

Jeni’s Ice Cream
Roasted-strawberry buttermilk? Salty caramel!? Welcome to Chicago!

Solange’s funky dance party bought some much need groove and rhythm to an otherwise pretty soul-less Saturday. Her grinding demonstration was ace.


The sound seemed to be a consistent issue for many performers, but most detrimentally for MIA, who had to stop her set multiple times.

Belle and Sebastian
Their tasteless joke about gun violence was cringe-inducing.

Sky Ferreira
The youngest Pitchfork performer also wound up seeming a little too unhinged for a big stage. She’s sweet and enthusiastic and writes many of her own songs, but her vocal range is extremely limited and her stage presence and self-deprecation is painfully awkward.

One night and we’re cool. Three nights and we’re done with you.