Feist Captivates At Pitchfork Music Festival

Soulful headliner delivers some tambourine-shaking, danceable moments on Day 1 of the indie-music fest in Chicago.

CHICAGO — On Friday, a little bit after 8:30 p.m., the rain had finally stopped, breaking the humidity that surrounded earlier acts on opening night of Pitchfork’s music festival. That break created the perfect cool-night-air atmosphere to usher in the headliner: Leslie Feist, the singer-songwriter better known as just Feist.

The singer came onstage with a guitar, looking pretty in a white dress and ready to wrap the first, very rainy day of the fest with her folky, soulful sound. Feist’s performance started immediately after the harmonies of the Dirty Projectors had died down from the nearby Red Stage. The Projectors were a great act for Feist and her three backup singers to follow because from then on, it became less of a rock show and more about a night of angelic voices.

Feist kicked off her set with the “The Bad in Each Other,” setting the tone for a surprisingly intimate, sometimes foot-stomping and always endearing performance. Still, picking Feist as a headliner in the first place was admittedly an odd choice for the Pitchfork organizers, but the festival remains true to its seven-year legacy of creating interesting and innovative lineups.

The Canadian singer delivered some tambourine-shaking, danceable moments, including on “I Feel It All” and on big, catchy sing-along songs like “My Moon My Man.” But on the whole, Feist was by far the quietest act of the fest’s first day. Considering that the main Green Stage on which she performed had just been riled up by Southern rapper Big K.R.I.T., it’s a testament to the quality of her songs and devoted fanbase that she not only held the interest of tired, rain-drenched festivalgoers, but had them singing along.

Among the other favorites were songs from her 2011 album, Metals, as well as the slowed-down minor version of “Mushaboom” from her 2005 album, Let It Die.

In some ways, picking a more low-key headliner was an asset for a festival that had fans shouting with A$AP Rocky and jumping around to Vancouver two-piece rock group Japandroids. By the time Feist hit the stage, it was nice to be able to sit on the lawn and enjoy songs from an artist that you didn’t need to be the biggest hipster in the room to be familiar with.

The Pitchfork Music Festival continues on Saturday (July 14) with a rocking and rowdy lineup that boasts acts from Schoolboy Q to Hot Chip. It’s also worth noting the awesome lineup of female artists rocking out, from bands like Wild Flag to Sleigh Bells. Solo female electronic artist Grimes has the last slot of the festival today, another interesting choice, but Pitchfork has already proven it can more than pull those off.

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