Photos: Sufjan Stevens Makes Everyone Dance At Pitchfork Day 2

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 17, 2016 3:00PM

The second day of the Pitchfork Music Festival was stuffed with music, but here are a few of the highlights. (You can also take a look at our Day 1 Recap.)

We sadly weren't there to witness one of them, but we were told that Carly Rae Jepsen jumped onstage with Blood Orange to play "Better Than Me." Thankfully, we were able to watch first hand as other acts on Pitckfork's Saturday bill turned our preconceived notions completely upside down.

In years to come, it's quite possible that people will still be talking about Sufjan Stevens' headlining set being one of the most ebullient, and completely unexpected, sets in Pitchfork history. We expected a sleepy, introverted show, but instead were treated to a huge extravaganza that looked like something out of a Baz Luhrmann movie. Stevens opened the set on a stage festooned with color, bounding about and smashing a banjo. Talk about a way to set a scene.

For the remainder of the evening, Stevens put on a show that was hugely energetic and stunningly visual. He wore long gloves with sparkly fringe hanging from the sides and an outfit that looked like something out of a demented Disney dream. Later in the evening he put on something we can only describe as a balloon animal gone completely insane and wore that as he ran all over the stage singing.

We admit we walked into his headlining set expecting something completely different, and it probably took us a good 20 minutes to get over our shock. And that was kind of awesome. It wasn't all flash and artifice though. For his penultimate tune, Stevens pulled out "Chicago" from his album Come On Feel The Illinoise, prompting a huge crowd sing-along. And right when you thought that couldn't be topped, his band ripped into Prince's "Kiss" for the finale. We've never seen that much dancing, that late, in Union Park. It was incredible.

Earlier in the evening Brian Wilson offered up his own noteworthy set. Joined onstage by fellow Beach Boy Al Jardin and a steady stable of session musicians, Wilson aptly recreated Pet Sounds to celebrate its 50th anniversary. At one point John and Joan Cusack joined Wilson onstage to supply backing vocals, which was fitting since John portrayed Wilson in last year's Love & Mercy. After running through the tracklist of the Beach Boys' masterpiece, Wilson and his crew kicked out a slew of other classics including "Good Vibrations," "Help Me, Rhonda" and "Surfin' U.S.A."

While Wilson's band supplied a solid show, we couldn't tell if Wilson enjoyed a single second of it. He was placed at a piano in the center of the stage and seemed to function more as a totem than a de facto band leader. We understand Wilson can be pretty inscrutable, and has had a difficult past, so we couldn't shake the feeling that he wasn't actually enjoying himself. We certainly hope he was, but it certainly didn't look like it.

Earlier in the afternoon Savages electrified the crowd, even if they still left this writer cold. But we can't deny that they delivered the most rapturously received set of the day. At one point singer Jehnny Beth literally walked out over the crowd, held aloft by their hands.

Another standout set came from Super Furry Animals, who treated the crowd to a sonically stunning show of their expert pop before changing into giant fuzzy costumes and launching into a rousing rendition of 1996's "The Man Don't Give a Fuck." Australia's Royal Headache also delivered a no-frills, garage-pop set in the afternoon that proved they are also a force to be reckoned with.

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