High energy, great artist performance days are the sorts of things music festivals are made for, in my opinion. That’s the ultimate combination of factors that result in a wildly fun time for all involved, but particularly the crowd. Sunday at Pitchfork Music Festival managed to conjure a largely rich and special collection of sets that wrapped up the weekend with a delightful little bow. Read on and embrace the recap, which is packed with more good stuff than any reasonable person would expect!

I love the weirdo art school dropout sensibilities that Jockstrap bring, both on stage and on record. Their Pitchfork performance reminded me a bit of Sylvan Esso, but with a lot more tinkering and general oddity. They stepped out on stage with Nicholas Britell’s “Succession” theme playing, then proceeded to dive into the dancier, more electronic side of their catalog with “Debra” and “Jennifer B”. Georgia Ellery sang and danced, while Taylor Skye handled most of the sounds. It sounded great to start, got a little bit slow at the mid-section when Ellery picked up an acoustic guitar, but then came back around for a true show-stopping finale. “Greatest Hits” was a triumph, and when Ellery picked up her violin on “Concrete Over Water” it sent that song to a whole other level. Toss in some pitch-shifted vocals and general speaking in tongues, and you’ve got one hell of a set.

Soul Glo
Soul Glo’s set was one of the most hotly anticipated of Sunday, and they came out firing on all cylinders. Initially I was a little concerned because singer Pierce Jordan was sporting a knee brace and it made me think he might be extra risk averse as a result. A lot of the hardcore punk bands I’ve seen tend to have singers that thrash around the stage or venture into the crowd, because it gets people riled up! Well, Soul Glo didn’t really need that kind of action, and now that I’ve gone back and watched some older live videos, they’ve never really been that kind of band. Sure, guitarist GG Guerra stomps around and doesn’t hesitate to hit some killer poses, but it’s really more about the sound and speed for Soul Glo. They were loud as hell, powered through their set like they were in a hurry, and set off probably the most aggressive mosh pit I saw all weekend. Good band. Solid band.

“Pitchfork Conde Nast Music Festival” were the first words out of JPEGMAFIA’s mouth after he stepped out on stage. It was his little way of getting a dig in at the corporate owners helping to fund the festival, even though they were also giving him a paycheck to perform. Another one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, things kicked off in a pretty familiar fashion to his last appearance at the festival. He hopped off the main part of the stage, onto some ground speakers, then hopped around on those for a minute. There was no DJ to trigger tracks, so Peggy kept going back to a table covered in reflective material to work some laptops and start something new. Then the laptops overheated two tracks in. After that, some of his people took the table back stage and he’d just call out track names for the rest of the set. At one point, he did an a capella cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” just because he felt like it. He did a few tracks from his collaborative EP with Danny Brown, but unfortunately Danny Brown wasn’t there so it was slightly less fulfilling. The crowd was very forgiving and kept cheering for him, but he seemed to know this wasn’t his strongest performance. Guess they can’t all be great.

Killer Mike
For the last decade, we’ve gotten Killer Mike the mischief maker. As one half of Run the Jewels, he’s traded insults with El-P while also calling attention to the many injustices of the world. A different Killer Mike showed up to Pitchfork on Sunday, or rather a different side of Killer Mike. The Red stage was adorned with a pulpit and several white floral bouquets. Killer Mike wore all white, as did the choir he brought to sing the choruses on tracks from his new record Michael. This was Killer Mike the preacher, and he was at Union Park on Sunday to say mass. I can’t really recall seeing him smile or act the least bit goofy, but if you were there to listen, he had a strong message to deliver about justice and the struggles of growing up in rough circumstances. Not sure it was the kind of message that played particularly well at a festival, but I admire Killer Mike for doing something a bit different and sharing his truth anyway.

Illuminati Hotties
Over on the Blue stage, Illuminati Hotties were delivering a set that felt like an almost polar opposite of Killer Mike’s pseudo church service. Sarah Tudzin and her band brought energy, joy, and some catchy as hell pop-punk tunes to get the Pitchfork crowd all nice and riled up. Then again many might have already been riled up from Soul Glo on that same stage just a short time earlier. The whole thing started out grand with “Joni: LA’s No. 1 Health Goth” eventually cycling over to “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism” to take things up another notch. There was a little breather around the middle portion of the set, though new single “Truck” slotted in nicely even if it’s not my favorite IH song. But the closing trio of “Pool Hopping,” “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA,” and “ppl plzr” was basically designed to send people into a frenzy, so I’m happy to say: mission accomplished.

Historically, Pitchfork hasn’t booked many reggae artists to play in Union Park over the years. It was a joy to see Koffee on the lineup, especially since she’s ushering in a whole new era for the genre. Her early evening set on Sunday began with dancers. Not sure if I’ve ever seen a reggae artist bring dancers out, so it was interesting to watch amid the band playing even before Koffee stepped out on stage. When Koffee did emerge, she was all smiles and positivity. It was great hearing tracks like “West Indies” and “Lockdown,” and watching the crowd just lose themselves to the groove. It wasn’t full-on dancing (aside from the actual dancers on stage), but it was this kind of gentle sway that was really nice to absorb in a relaxed sort of way. Part of me kind of wished Koffee was a little more of an engaging performer, but she did pretty well overall, and I feel like she’ll only get better with more time and experience.

Hurray for the Riff Raff
My general feeling about Hurray for the Riff Raff’s set was that they didn’t have time for any of the riff raff they proclaim to celebrate. That’s not a bad or negative thing, just Alynda Segarra brought a very straightforward, almost business-like approach to the performance. It’s not like a majority of the songs are particularly goofy or joyful, but they are infused with incredible passion and feeling, which were absolutely on display. To hear songs like “PIERCED ARROWS” and “PRECIOUS CARGO” and not be moved…you’d have to be pretty heartless or I suppose inattentive/disrespectful. Thankfully Pitchfork crowds do generally focus on the artists they’re watching, and it was clear many found Hurray for the Riff Raff’s set to be an emotional roller coaster that was more than worth the ride.

One of the best things about Kelela’s pre-headliner performance on Sunday night was the production design. There was no band or DJ on stage backing her up. No objects or decorations to speak of either. The stage was bare except for overhead lighting rigs. Honestly? That’s all Kelela needed. She strut out on stage like she owned the place, launched straight into “Washed Away,” and we were off to the races. Kelela worked the crowd like it owed her money, constantly moving from side to side so everyone could take in the view. But it was her voice that stood tall among the rest, as she belted out song after song from her latest album RAVEN, with a little extra room for some classics as well. It was everything you could have wanted from a Kelela performance. I have no notes.

Mdou Moctar
I absolutely tried to warn people that Mdou Moctar’s guitar work was next level, and those who paid attention got an incredible treat at Pitchfork on Sunday night. It’s difficult to express the sheer joy on people’s faces as they watched Moctar rip into solo after solo. My eyes were certainly as wide as saucers as his playing seemed so effortless yet with all those notes there’s no way it actually could have been. The driving drum beats and secondary guitars bolstered things even further, even causing the crowd to clap along to the rhythms at times, which Moctar further encouraged. It was a wonder to see something so vibrant yet technical in what amounted to one of the wildest and best performances of the entire weekend.

Bon Iver
Sure, Bon Iver might not be the most exciting live band – everyone on stage tends to stay in one place behind their instruments – but what they lack in general excitement they make up for in lovingly rendered versions of their songs. Oh, and the lighting cues are pretty good too. Both times I’ve seen Bon Iver in the past were both fully seated affairs, and while I did end up finding a spot in the grass away from the crowd in Union Park, most people stood for the duration and at no point appeared to regret the decision. It was really the hits that got people more engaged. The cheers were audibly louder when “Lump Sum” and “Hey, Ma” kicked in. But the 1-2-3 punch of “Blood Bank,” “Skinny Love,” and “Holocene” really took things to a whole other level with jumping around, (pseudo) dancing, and heartfelt sing-alongs. Turns out that was a pretty nice way to wrap up the weekend. Nice work, Justin Vernon & Co.