You may think that reading a review on R&B and Hip Hop star, Lauren Hill’s 20th Anniversary of the Miseducation of Lauren Hill Tour performance from last week’s Pitchfork Music Festival would be kind of weird as it’s a week and half late. But being late was actually the talk of the weekend as Hill is known to show up late to many of her performances and sometimes even not at all. When Hill was picked to headline this year’s festival, there were many people that were worried that based on her past performances, something would go wrong. “I went to see her last year,” said a women in the audience who was there with daughter. “She was two hours late and only sang a few songs.” But her daughter was a little more optimistic about Hill. “I’ve loved Lauren since this album came out. I just want to see her sing.”
Well optimistic or not, the thousands in attendance at Union Park, Chicago only had to wait an extra twenty-three minutes as Hill took the stage to a thunderous applause from the crowd. Starting with “Lost Ones” with her background singers and big band treated the crowd to almost every song from the multi-Grammy winning 1998 album. Hill is often criticized for taking her songs and remixing them making them seemingly unrecognizable to her fans but that was not the case this time. The crowd did not seem to mind the small changes to some classics like, “Everything Is Everything” which had a new rock flavor to it.
With some of the slow songs from the album like, “I Used to Love Him” and “Forgive Them Father” drawn out longer so that Hill could continue singing, nobody in the crowd seemed to mind at all. It was like every single person knew that just her being up there was a treat and nothing was going to ruin that moment. Hill even began to cry in the middle of a song and it was like the crowd cheered her back to life which was one of the most powerful moments of the night.
As the crowd looked at their watches and phones knowing that Hill’s time on the stage was coming to a close, before closing with “Doo Wop (That Thing)”, one of Hill’s most popular songs to date, she took time to talk to the crowd. Hill pleaded with everyone to spread love and joy and to stop the violence when they all went home and back into their communities. A sentiment heard over and over, but from Hill at that moment, on that stage and on that night was just what everyone watching needed.
And if we needed a reminder of just how long we have all been a fan of the movies, music and pretty much everything that Lauren Hill has done over the years, as she thanked the crowd for the many year’s of support she reminded the crowd one thing. “Zion turns twenty-one this year.” said Hill. Her song that we all knew from that album, “From Zion” was just given a new face.
Just days after the Pitchfork Music Festival, news broke that Hill cancelled the seven shows following Chicago due to “unforeseen production issues.” But for those in Chicago that cool Sunday evening, it was during her set and especially in that moment about her son Zion that Hill let all her fans into her personal life. And from an artist like Hill it quickly reaffirmed why we were there that night, why we have been there for over two decades and is something that everyone watching will treasure forever.
Photo credit: Alexandra Cunningham