The Best of Pitchfork Music Festival, Then and Now

In this episode of the Pitchfork Review podcast, our critics reminisce about their favorite moments from past Pitchfork Festivals and talk about who they’re looking forward to seeing most this weekend in Chicago.
Japanese Breakfast Robyn Kendrick Lamar and more artists
Pitchfork Music Festivals stars of the past (Japanese Breakfast, Robyn, and Kendrick Lamar) and present (Alvvays, the Smile, and Koffee). Photos courtesy of Getty Images. Image by Chris Panicker.

Our weekly podcast includes in-depth analysis of the music we find extraordinary, exciting, and just plain terrible, alongside the culture around that music. This week Editor-in-Chief Puja Patel, Reviews Director Jeremy D. Larson, and Executive Editor Amy Phillips discuss some of their most ecstatic Pitchfork Music Festival memories (Kendrick! Robyn! Animal Collective!) and reveal their personal must-see sets (the Smile! Alvvays! Koffee!) for the 2023 edition, which takes place at Chicago’s Union Park this weekend. Check out the Pitchfork Music Festival site for more info.

Listen to this week’s episode and read an excerpt from it below. Follow The Pitchfork Review here.

Puja Patel: One of the unique things about our festival is that the artists understand that we are one of the last critical music publications standing, and everyone has a sense of humor about the whole thing. They might have their own opinions about things that have run on this site, but the fact that they’re there shows there’s an understanding that we as a publication are really big fans, even if we liked one album over another. The most iconic example in recent memory is when St. Vincent headlined in 2021. Amy, what happened there?

Amy Phillips: It was during a skit that she does in between songs, where she makes a pretend phone call and there’s some crowd interaction in the classic, like, “That’s not loud enough, let me ask it again!” sort of thing. So when the crowd cheered, she said, “I give that response a 6.7,” which is what we had given her most recent album. Everybody laughed.

Jeremy D. Larson: Good sport.

Phillips: And I remember Zola Jesus getting up there one year and saying, “This set is dedicated to 5.9,” which was the score we gave her album.

Larson: And it wouldn’t be a JPEGMAFIA set if there wasn’t a “fuck Pitchfork” chant. Look forward to that, it’s fun!

Patel: He’s back again this year!