Photos and words by Anna Selle.
I’m convinced that Friday will be the best day of the festival as I leave the gates later that evening. But after a good night’s rest, a particularly tasty tofu scramble at a café in Rogers Park, and an hour-long train ride to West Loop, I’m greeted at Union Park by Vagabon’s ethereal yet powerful voice. Following her tragically short time on the Green Stage, I find myself at sets by Weyes Blood, Mitski, Cherry Glazerr, Francis and the Lights, Angel Olsen, and ultimately A Tribe Called Quest who dedicated their performance to Phife Dawg.
Not unlike the day before, each set fulfills a different hunger musically. Mitski and Vagabon are emotional and cathartic. Weyes Blood and Angel Olsen leave me awestruck by the way their voices fill the vast spaces of Union Park. Cherry Glazerr entertains the crowd as front-woman Clementine Creevy thrashes around the Blue Stage, a shaded reprieve from the 3:00 PM sun. Later, as the afternoon bleeds into evening, Francis Farewell Starlite of Francis and the Lights illuminates the same stage with songs that cause an energetic stir as the crowd dances. At the end of his set, Francis begins scaling the stage’s scaffolding, and then a tree, much to his audience’s delight.
The night concludes with A Tribe Called Quest. On opening their set, the group dedicates the night to Phife Dawg, who lost his battle with diabetes in 2016. Though Phife Dawg’s presence is noticeably missed in the performance, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and MC Jarobi White shared chemistry and energy with themselves and the crowd. By the time the second song is over and photographers are asked to leave the pit, the crowd is so dense that we have to sneak out a back route, past a swimming pool and through a gymnasium to exit. I watch a few more songs from a distance, then make my way to Ace Hotel, where Chicago’s up and coming hip-hop lyricist Vic Mensa debuts a new album. In the earliest hour of the next morning, I ride an empty El train back to Roger’s Park, flipping through the photos I’d caught that day.