The third and final day of Pitchfork Music Festival Paris was rife with talented acts and an enthusiastic audience looking to make the most of their very last day in the Grande Halle.
Having only released five songs to date (four at the time of her performance), Norwegian pop singer-songwriter Sigrid had a set full of tracks previously unheard by a majority of the crowd, but that didn’t take away from the buzz of energy. With crashes of heavy drums like those in “Go To War” and Sigrid’s strong voice given amazing focus in ballad “Dynamite,” Sigrid showcased her dynamic range.
She closes the set with “Strangers,” which just recently released as a single. The set ends with an element of dissatisfaction as she and her band were pulled from the stage due to time constraints without playing banger “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” but her talent made up for it nonetheless.
In her classic holographic bomber and light-up glasses, Sônge took the biggest stage at the Grande Halle with only a microphone and a synth, leaving the bare space to let her music do the talking. And that she did: Electro-pop music took a haunting turn in otherworldly tracks like slow-burning “I Come From Pain.”
The French artist has synesthesia (more specifically chromesthesia, the ability to hear colors), so it was interesting to think about the potential inspiration and consideration towards the relationship between colors and sounds in her creations.
Moving seamlessly between jazz, funk, neo-soul, hip-hop, and even a little disco, Tom Misch can’t be tied down. He let the music onstage do the talking for him, only speaking up occasionally to interact with the crowd. He invited his sister, Laura, to help out on “Follow” with emotive saxophone alongside twinkling xylophone-like piano and relaxing guitar before moving into the gooey, funky “South of the River” featuring a cheerful violin solo.
Misch switched sound for a song for “any fans of J Dilla here,” an artist he’s mentioned as inspiration to create more instrumental and hip-hop inspired songs. He delivered with a cheerful piano overlaying wailing violin, and drums that enter sharply with a hollow undertone.
It was disappointing that Loyle Carner didn’t support Tom Misch during their collaboration “Crazy Dream,” but the London rapper didn’t miss a beat shouting out his friend from across the Halle. The stage was set up like a family home, with lamps on side tables and Carner’s emcee’s laptop set up on what looks like a short bookcase complete with family pictures, a trophy, and a plant. The backdrop was a cartoon rendition of Loyle’s father’s football jersey, which he is known for holding while performing.
In a set that features no less than two freestyles, a shout to an audience member–“You’re legendary, my friend”–and lovely jazz-inflected songs about anything from alcohol abuse (“The Seamstress”) to unrequited love (“Mean It In The Morning”) to his own mum (“Florence”), Carner’s talent was effortless and drew a connection from every crowd member.
French electronic musician Jacques takes sounds from everyday objects and composes entrancing minimalist electronic songs. With various countries’ flags fluttering in an invisible breeze around him, the artist was positioned between two slanted tables full of pedals, a laptop, and various other soundboards, just wide enough for him to reach across by spreading his arms.
There is a cheer from the crowd every time a new item is brought out by his assistant; a frisbee and a ping pong ball, an old-fashioned metal fan, a ladder, brushes and sandpaper, a matchbox, an exercise ball (not used for sounds but instead tossed into the audience). The entire set is a 45 minute boogie with crescendoes and lulls between live recording of each sound in a more-danceable style of John Cage.
BadBadNotGood, everyone’s favorite Canadian jazz and hip-hop jam-band, took the stage next for a laid-back yet impressive set full of dynamic instrumentals, the opening song of which featured saxophonist Leland Whitty on a twittering flute. For a floating song full of keyboadist Matthew Tavares’ soft solos and bassist Chester Hansen’s light bass overlay, drummer Alex Sowinski yelled to the crowd: “We hope you feel like swimming with us.” The crowd lifted theirs arms in the air as Whitty and Sowinski pranced about the stage before joining their band members in a quickly crescendoing beat of restlessness.
These explosions of sound continue, featuring synthesized horns and twinkling keyboard, organ-like piano and fluttering saxophone. During “CS60,” Sowinski successfully got the crowd to crouch for a slowly-building beat, culminating in a leap on the drop of the beat, and it all got messy from there, with dancing wilder than even before.
New York City-born rapper Princess Nokia, aka Destiny Nicole Fraqueri, delivered brash and unapologetic hip-hop during a packed set on the small stage of the Grande Halle, people pressing themselves to the stage both behind and in front of the barrier.
Her songs drip with raw honesty and feminist solidarity; opening song “Tomboy,” the lyrics glorifying gender deviancy with “little titties and fat belly,” chanted back at her with enthusiastic cheer, and the pulsating “Brujas,” exploring Taíno and Yoruban mysticism brujería, both visibly enjoyed by the grinning audience.
With such an impressive career path beneath their belts, hip hop duo Run the Jewels had every reason to use Queen’s “We are the Champions” as their introduction track. Underneath the giant golden fist and gun that they are so well known for, Killer Mike pumped his fists and El-P shouted, “We came to burn this stage to the motherfucking ground.” With an act like Run the Jewels, anyone knows they definitely succeeded; fist pumping, wild jumping, and enthusiastic chanting ensued, with a chant of “RTJ! RTJ!” every couple songs while the two rappers grinned out at the crowd.
They knew exactly how to give everyone a good time, if not through the sheer talent showcased in their songs, then by creating a safe space for anyone attending; before the hardcore “Pew Pew Pew,” sure to start a mosh pit, El-P and Killer Mike took a moment to illustrate some rules: “If you want to go crazy, go for it. But if you see someone fall on the ground, pick your fellow human up, make sure they’re alright, then return to your stupidity.”
And in the wake of many speaking out against sexual harassment cases at concerts recently, Run The Jewels outlined the most important rule of all: “Please make everybody feel comfortable and safe by KEEPING YOUR FUCKING HANDS TO YOURSELF!” The night closed on the encore of politically-charged “Angel Duster.” Puffs of celebratory smoke rose into the air as the audience attempted to milk every last moment of the very last night of Pitchfork Music Festival Paris 2017.