Sunday was all about Killer Mike and El-P for me—I left Pitchfork while it was still light outside. Now that I’ve read everyone’s reactions to R. Kelly’s set, I’m experiencing a twinge of regret that I skipped it, but to be honest I had a fine time at Sanford Parker‘s crawfish boil. I still don’t know how to eat a crawfish with dignity, but I met some great folks (including Eric Hersemann from Gigan) and a very good dog named Iris. (Sorry I didn’t give you that potato, Iris. I should’ve known better than to offer if I couldn’t follow through!)

Killer Mike opened with the devastating “Big Beast,” which must be about somebody else, because he is one charming motherfucker. Talk about a contagious smile! And when he explained how hip-hop is a church where everyone can come together, I was feeling him, as the kids say. I’m an unconflicted atheist, but certain things are sacred to me, and music is one of them—largely because the act of making it (or listening to it, or dancing to it, or whatever you like to do to it) connects people via a preverbal language that’s older and bigger than all of us. I didn’t expect to have one of my private, half-articulated “spiritual” beliefs reflected back at me while I was standing in Union Park sweating like a truck-stop sausage under a heat lamp, but that’s just how good Mike is. One minute I couldn’t think about anything but how desperately I wanted a drink of water, and the next I was getting all choked up.

El-P dialed down the earnestness (he rhymes “retard” with “keytar,” after all) and cranked up the manic energy and goofy camaraderie—the latter when Killer Mike joined him for their colossally fun Run the Jewels material. My esteemed colleague J.R. Nelson photographed me in the act of enjoying their set (as well as my second Run the Jewels beer of the day), adding that I looked like the villain in a David Lynch movie. All I can think of when I see that picture is, Wow, I have the worst sunglasses! Eh, they were free. They used to be my mom’s, but she didn’t like them.

Mike told the crowd that if they drank all the Run the Jewels at Pitchfork, Goose Island might brew more and even bottle it—and El-P added, helpfully, “Do it for the children.” I hope the children appreciate how much of that beer I put away! Also, I biked home with several pounds of crawdads in my bag. Does anybody want some? Otherwise I think I’m going to try to sell them as Warhammer miniatures.

I think I’m done publicly embarrassing myself, at least for now, which means it’s time for you to hit the jump and see what the rest of the Reader folks thought of Pitchfork’s final day:

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.