Pitchfork Festival returns to Chicago’s Union Park for its twelfth year with a fresh lineup in tow from July 14 to 16. From hip hop heroes like A Tribe Called Quest to upcoming indie darlings like Vagabon, Pitchfork festival has it all.
Here are the artists that I’m most eager to see.
While I normally gravitate to the soft-hearted and soft-sounding, Priests captivated me with their pointed punk. Their political and feminist songs, all set to infectious bass parts and distorted guitars, make me proud to be young and capable of questioning the norm and inspiring change. On their most recent release Nothing Feels Natural Priests push past the limitations of punk to incorporate jazz and funk, proving their versatility.
Greta Kline, aka Frankie Cosmos, captured the hearts of the masses with 2014’s Zentropy, and maintained her hold with last year’s Next Thing. With a Bandcamp page boasting DIY recordings dating back to 2009, 23-year-old Kline’s twee bedroom pop ramblings communicate an innocent sincerity that sounds straight out of a teen journal. While Kline’s guitars remain understated and her occasional synths stay simple, her lyrics sharply articulate the qualms and joys of one’s youth. Kline’s quaint stories, often about feeling small, will be interesting to see on the big festival stage.
LCD Soundsystem’s upcoming album American Dream is set for release on the first of September, and it may be the most highly anticipated album of the year. “Call the Police,” the first single of the upcoming release, teases a dance-inspiring album with potential to surpass the greatness of the band’s albums prior their 2011 breakup. Like many other LCD fans, I never thought I would have the chance to see my favorite songs from This Is Happening live. With the band’s reunion and a new album on the horizon, I feel so lucky to now have the chance.
Vagabon opens Saturday’s lineup and it is not one to miss. I’ve heard only great things about Vagabon’s live show and with her songs ranging from warm synth soundscapes to jangly guitar anthems, I’m expecting a downright explosive live show.
With tender vocals and lush instrumentation, Weyes Blood expertly mingles old-school folk sensibilities with lofty dream pop, a true feat of cross-genre blending. In addition to the release of her third album Front Row Seat to Earth last year, Weyes Blood kept busy with collaborations with Ariel Pink, Drugdealer, and Perfume Genius in the last year. Her set will hopefully showcase her wide array of styles as shown from the sparkling yet eerie elegance of her duet “Sides” with Perfume Genius to the avant=garde chanting of the Myths 002 EP. One thing for certain, her set silky vocals and misty aura are bound to leave the Pitchfork crowd in a state of trace.
Layers of fuzzy guitars nearly distract from the despair and desperation of Mitski’s fourth and most recent album album, Puberty 2. This painful album, released last year, touched the hearts of listeners and solidified Mitski Miyawaki as a leading voice in indie rock. Puberty 2 touches on the emotional struggle of forming relationships and establishing oneself when one comes from a different background. While Mitski may still battle demons in her personal life in regarding this, she’s broken through the white-male-dominated industry that is indie rock. Grab some tissue and welcome one of the new leading voices of indie rock at her Saturday four o’clock set.
Angel Olsen is no stranger to the Pitchfork stage. She last played at the festival in 2013. Since then, she has pushed beyond the lonely folk singer label with shiny synths and punchy anthems while preserving the hopeful and sometimes heartbreaking transparency of her previous releases. I saw Olsen preform this past February at Georgia Theatre where she delivered a rather stoic performance so I am excited to see how her music translates to the festival stage.
A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest has been considered hip hop royalty since the 90s. We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service, released last November but recorded before founding member Phife Dawg’s passing in March 2016, proved through its laid-back samples and jazz rap grooves that nothing has changed since 1998’s The Love Movement. The sharp hooks and political sentiments make Tribe more relevant than ever.
With collaborations with Vince Staples, Childish Gambino, and Gorillaz and a budding discography of dance pop infused R&B, Kilo Kish’s set is sure to be a high energy start to Sunday’s lineup. Kilo Kish’s futuristic synths and witty lyricism make her performance worthwhile of heading over to Union Park early in the day for her one o’clock start.
Pinegrove had an extremely successful 2016, almost shockingly so. While they could be easily cast aside as a group of kids, those who give their album Cardinal a chance will quickly discover that they are much beyond that. Pinegrove delivers a dose of clarity about friendship with every emo-folk-tinged word. The combined aesthetics and DIY charm made it a 2016 favorite.
Especially for a duo that creates music out of mainly samples, the Avalanches are truly like no other group in the business. Their 2000 album, Since I Left You, is a plunderphonic masterpiece (and a copyright lawyer’s nightmare), combining over nine hundred familiar and bizarre samples to craft songs that invoke both nostalgia and curiosity. With their intricate textures and sparse traditional instrumentation, the Avalanches will to have to push the parameters of their two albums for a live setting, a process I can’t wait to see.
-Tori Benes, Music Director