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Here We Go! Our Picks For The 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 14, 2010 5:40PM

LCD Soundsystem photo by Jim Kopeny
This year's Pitchfork Music Festival has such a solid line-up most are saying that the quality and density of acts is even trumping what Lollapalooza has to offer. We're not going to take a stand on that point, but we will admit that this weekend has us very excited. Our music writers have huddled together and fought over who got to writer what about whom and our final recommendations for bands you absolutely, positively, do NOT want to miss follow. You'll notice we didn't include heavyweights Pavement in our round-up but that's purely because, well, who the hell is going to skip out on Pavement's first Chicago show in eleven years?!

Best reason to leave work early on Friday:

Sharon Van Etten on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Van Etten’s ethereal, melancholic folk is just gentle enough to ease you into what will be one jam-packed weekend of blow-away acts. But that’s not to say her live performance is weak - she engages the audience with expressive (though sometimes mumbled) vocals and beautifully written prose about heartache and lessons in love, backed up by lightly strummed acoustic guitar. These are the types of romantic tunes perfect for making lovey eyes at that hot girl in the cut off jeans across the way. - Sarah Cobarrubias

Best reason to hold hands and sway with a stranger:
Tallest Man On Earth on Friday at 4 p.m. 

Kristian Matsson lively folk strumming is buoyant enough to fend off your late afternoon energy crash, but has just enough mellowness to put you in the perfect state of relaxation to get you settled into the festival’s first day. The young Swedish folkster recalls pieces here and there of Nick Drake and Bob Dylan but adds his own bright, virtuosic banjo and guitar strumming to his gravelly-voiced lullabies. - Kimberly Bellware

Best chance of getting that stodgy dude you know to dance to pure pop:
Robyn on Friday at 6:25

Robyn why do you not love us more? Why do you take so long to ever play here in the States? You've made huge strides from your early tween pop days to the sophisticated and smart music on your last few releases, and the music blogs here can't say enough nice things about you! I guess this is my way of saying don't be surprised if you get the most energetic crowd reaction of the day, because we've been waiting a long time for you to show up. - Tankboy

Best band with more Canadians than The New Pornogrpahers
Broken Social Scene on Friday at 7:30

This monstrous collective has a lot to live up to, what with a legendary Lollapalooza appearance a few years back and a catalog of albums that get better and better when something constructed by a group this large should get worse and worse. Hell, this band is so good live we don't even mind that they use Feist to sing a few of their songs! These Canadians are too polite to try and conquer the world so they'll simply be content sitting astride it. - Tankboy

2010_07_free energy.jpg
Free Energy photo by Lizz Kannenberg
Best reason to start drinking at breakfast on Saturday:
Free Energy on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Free Energy's high octane party rock is a fist pumping good time, and trust us when we say you'll want to down a few brews to get into "basement of the most awesome house party of your life" mood the band just exudes all over the stage. Yeah, we've seen bands do the '70s influenced good-time party thing before, but these lads do it without a trace of irony. They know rock and/or roll is about letting loose embracing life and -- most importantly -- the ability to hop around and dance when that perfect guitar riff slams into you head-on. - Tankboy

Best reason to throw up the Wu symbol:
Raekwon on Saturday at 4:15

Everyone knows Wu-Tang, whether you like the music or not. Everyone knows Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, RZA, and Ghostface Killah. But the fact is that the oft-overlooked member Raekwon is as good as any of them. After releasing Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt 2 last year (over a decade after the classic Pt 1), Raekwon regained his hip-hop cred with an album reminiscent of the old Wu-Tang days. He’ll bring that East Coast fire, no doubt, and you should be there to witness it. - Jake Guidry

Best reason to ditch the beer lines and sweat it out with the teenagers:
Smith Westerns on Saturday at 4:45 p.m.

Riding high on the buzz of their 2009 self-titled debut album, Chicago's own Smith Westerns will play Pitchfork for the first time on Saturday. Once their scuzzy garage riffs ring out across Union Park, you'll be more concerned with getting a good spot in the pit then standing in line for another $5 beer. Who says teenagers get to have all the fun? - Anna Deem

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Best band to get naked outside and hump to:
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on Saturday at 5:15

JSBX's albums may have gotten more polite and refined throughout the years, but their live show always maintained that howling from the wilderness feel of their earlier work. Soul funk-outs get cranked through cut-rate amps as Jon Spencer sings about stealing your girlfriend, Judah Baur rips insane guitar leads and sprays them all over the audience and Russell Simins hits the skins like Bonham channeling a primeval Buddy Rich. Expect older fans to rediscover the group's genius while younger neophytes find themselves scrambling for both cover and the group's back catalog. - Tankboy

Best reason to cosmic jam at an indie music fest:
Bear in Heaven on Saturday at 6:45 p.m.

They don’t surf in the psychedelic stratosphere quite as far as, say, Animal Collective, but Bear in Heaven has enough woozy synths, radar blip guitars and echo chamber vocals to put you in a trance and let you dance like you’re on a ‘shroom trip. Lest things get too close to jammy, Bear in Heaven’s thundering drums and Kraut-rock flavor should keep you grounded—remember, you’re not at a Phish show. - Kimberly Bellware

The one band to rule them all:
LCD Soundsystem on Saturday at 8:30

We saw LCD Soundsystem at Metro a few months ago and there is no way this appearance can top that. No way. But we still predict this set will be the one everyone, and we mean EVERYONE so get a space on the lawn early, will still be talking about at next year's Pitchfork. Yeah, we're excited about Pavement playing the next night but LCD Soundsystem has the ability to united EVERYONE and get them to live the exact same gloriously ecstatic moment. Dancing will be involved. - Tankboy

Best reason to get throw devil horns and rejoice summer in the city:
Surfer Blood at Sunday at 4:45 p.m.

Surfer Blood stuffs into each of their tracks monstrously good guitar hooks, complex, rhythmic breakdowns and some peppy summertime beats (that still sound good all year round) reminiscent of Pavement in sound and The Beach Boys in feel. The relentless energy of Surfer Blood’s music will make it impossible to stand still, even as the mercury pushes past 90, so ride that fun, hard-rocking wave and be glad that you’re surrounded by sweat and not snow. - Kimberly Bellware

Best Coast

Best official after-show that's worth the hype:

Best Coast on Saturday at the Empty Bottle

It's easy to dismiss Best Coast as another three-chord California pop band that won't survive the hype of their debut album, Crazy For You. However, once you actually take the time (roughly thirty minutes) to listen, it's clear why Best Coast are not only playing Pitchfork on Sunday at 1:55 p.m., but also an official after-show at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night. Hurry and buy your ticket before they're all snapped up; this after-show will be the talk of the park on Sunday. - Anna Deem

Best reason to dance at dinnertime on a Sunday:
Major Lazer on Sunday at 6:15

We’ve professed our affinity for Diplo and Major Lazer before, and while the dancehall-meets-dub-meets-pop sound may be off-putting at first, these guys put on one hell of a dance party. Led by DJ/producers Diplo and Switch and polished off with the ridiculous on-stage antics of Skerritt Bwoy, Major Lazer shows us how music we don’t know about is just as good as the stuff we do. Do not miss "Pon De Floor." - Jake Guidry

Best reason to wear glow-in-the-dark war paint: 

Neon Indian on Sunday at 6:45

You don’t have to be tripping on acid to enjoy the psychedelic chillwave tunes of Neon Indian. Taking inspiration from retro dance music, they make trippy, lo-fi synth-pop hazed over with distortion and reverb that gets us all nostalgic for '80s block parties and lazy summer days in front of the Nintendo. It may seem like these guys rely on gimmick, but trust us, once the warm, buoyant beats of “Deadbeat Summer” reach your ears you’ll be too lost in the groove to even care. - Sarah Cobarrubias

Best reason to get reacquainted with Southern rap that isn’t Lil Wayne:
Big Boi on Sunday at 7:25

Outkast members Andre 3000 and Big Boi have been at it for as long as we can remember. While their combined efforts remain as some of the finest work in hip-hop and rap history, Big Boi recently released a solo effort titled Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty and it could very well be among the defining albums of the last few years. Covered in impeccable flow, a range of production styles that explore the full spectrum of the Southern rap sound, and a vision that is pushing music in a new and exciting direction, Sir Lucious Left Foot is full of tracks that you can’t miss Big Boi perform live. - Jake Guidry

Best chance to see earplugs as a fashion accoutrement to hot pants:
Sleigh Bells on Sunday at 7:40

Sleigh Bell's mixture of Digital Hardcore and playground pop is just so fucking addictive we don't care one whit that they will probably never put out another album as good as their debut. The band has a shaky reputation for their live appearance, but if you get close enough to the stage the waves of sound will make you oblivious to whatever the hell is happening onstage. Girl / guy duos have been increasing in both popularity and output of volume over the last decade, but Sleigh Bels is gonna be a hard act to top in that category. - Tankboy

Who is on YOUR must-see list?