Pitchfork Music Festival 2018: Julien Baker at Blue Stage

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There couldn’t have been a more appropriate setting for Julien Baker’s performance at Pitchfork Music Festival 2018. Located at a private and rather hidden sector of Union Park, Blue Stage embodied Julien’s performance in its title and essence.

It was without a doubt the smallest stage at the festival, but the crowd was anything but. The stage seemed to swallow Julien as she approached armed with nothing but with her vocals and her guitar. After watching countless performances with several band members playing alongside, or behind a header, it provided a calming intimacy to see only Julien behind a microphone. Single-handedly bridging the gap between her and the crowd, Julien was a one-man band. She played lead over her own rhythms with the help of a synth board. It has become a signature part of her performances and her fans have learned to look for it during her shows.

The crowd seemed captivated by her haunting guitar riffs and passionate vocals. Even the most reserved individual would have to exert tremendous effort not to get lost in her spellbinding lyrics. The calming silence of the crowd only confirmed Julien’s gift for making music tangible. She was effortless in creating an atmosphere for her audience. Looking at the faces in the crowd, it was clear that they not only wanted to hear every lyric, but they wanted to feel them too.

Before long, Julien made the transition from guitar to keyboard. She began belting out songs from her latest album “Turn Out the Lights” for an eager and mesmerized crowd. The pained cracking in her voice a beautiful manifestation of the turmoil inside. Seeing this incredible artist live redefined the Pitchfork experience for me. After seeing individuals screaming, jumping and dancing erratically, it was nice to wind down and see many of those same individuals entranced by the artistry of the one and only Julien Baker.

By Autumn Smith
Photo: @strangefruitphotography

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