Festival Season: Pitchfork Chicago

What Pitchfork gets right is what most music festivals miss

by Cassie Plunkett

Cassie Plunkett is an artist, songwriter, and music educator based in LA. She works as the Creative Tech Director at Beats By Girlz global. Cassie performs as experimental pop artist Plunki, making synth pop influenced by the sounds of her hometown of Miami. On and off the stage, Cassie aims to uplift women and queer people in music and music tech spaces.

Noname at Pitchfork Music Festival 2022

Ah, festival season. The time honored tradition is back and better than ever. 2022 marks the first year since covid that live music actually seems… dare I say back to normal? Here’s what it was like to attend Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago in 2022.

Glass Half Full

Now, before we dive in, I have to admit I’ve been to Pitchfork Musical Festival three times. Aside from just appealing to my indie girl nature, something about Pitchfork has kept me coming back, and I think I finally put my finger on it.

Pitchfork actually books women! According to Book More Women, Pitchfork is one of only a handful of US music festivals that consistently reaches an over 50% gender balance in their lineups. This year alone roughly 2/3 of their acts featured at least 1 permanent member who is a woman or is nonbinary. And, after some digging into years past, it's clear they have the track record to prove their commitment to the 50% threshold.

2021: 62%

2020: 57%

2019: 64%

2018: 52%

Source: @bookmorewomen

Now I know what you’re thinking, 50% acts with at least ONE woman or nb permanent member seems… not hard to do. But even in 2022, 64% of major US music festival lineups are made up of ALL MALE ACTS.

Source: Book More Women

So with that as our somber backdrop, here are some highlights from PMF’22.

Indigo de Souza at PMF'22

Day 1: Crying in the Rain

I started off day one crying to Indigo de Souza in the pouring rain, which was oddly appropriate. Indigo’s performance was incredibly cathartic, letting her voice and her guitar go wherever they wanted to. I felt renewed after singing and yelling along with her in the torrential downpour.

After seeking refuge from the rain, I made my way over to catch Dawn Richard. For those not in the know, Dawn Richard (of Danity Kane) is a pop and R&B singer turned dance/electronic legend. She sings, writes, produces, and performs with incredible discipline and intention. Aside from being a legend in her own right, she knows how to pick incredible collaborators as well (Suzi Analogue, Machinedrum, Trakgirl, Dirty Projectors to name a few). This is her second performance I’ve seen at Pitchfork, and like always, she brought the house down.