Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 Preview: Friday
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 15, 2015 6:00PM
Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. (Photo Credit: Chicagoist/Lizz Kannenberg)
Every year we recommend a few acts the staff is personally excited about for each day of Pitchfork Music Festival. Today we're highlighting the bands we're most excited to see at Union Park this Friday. This list is by no means comprehensive, so if we missed an act you're looking forward to seeing, let us know and tell us why you're excited to see them!
Best channeling of Nick Drake as a guitar shredding god.
Ryley Walker on the Blue Stage at 3:20 p.m.
It’s funny, in the past whenever we’ve written about Ryley Walker it’s been in conjunction with the Chicago DIY, experimental, and noise scenes. But Walker’s latest album, Primrose Green, offers up exactly what it’s title conjures; it’s a collection of free-ranging folk rock explorations. The music is on the more aggressive side of the spectrum, but this is driven by Walker’s nimble and impressive fretwork, alongside drumming that bumps into jazz territory while still driving the proceedings speedily along. If you’re looking to sink into the day enveloped by a slightly psychedelic head trip, like we are, then Walker is the absolute perfect act to kick off the weekend. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Steve Gunn, photo by ConstanceMensh
Steve Gunn on the Blue Stage at 5:15
Steve Gunn focuses the pastoral tinges of early Pink Floyd through a troubadour’s lens. His vocals float up from underneath the wide proverbial brim of a hat worn by a man seated in the midst of a sun soaked field that is occasionally dappled by the stray cloud meandering overhead. Last year’s Way Out Weather made an impression on us, heralding the arrival of a talent that could take bucolic, peaceful passages and make them feel weighty and real. Where other folk-leaning singer-songwriters tend to drift away on wisps of smoke, Gunn feels more present, more immediate; and that leads us to believe his set under the trees at the Blue Stage is one not to be missed, if you get to Union Park early enough. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Tobias Jesso Jr. on the Blue Stage at 6:15 p.m.
I first heard of Tobias Jesso Jr. when he appeared on one of my favorite podcasts, telling his unusual story. His experience started out just about as average as could be when he moved to L.A. in hopes of making it big as a rock musician. But then, in the blink of an eye, everything changed and his dreams seemed to be dashed. After a series of events left him rethinking his whole plan, he traded in his guitar for a piano and before he knew it the humble YouTube videos he was posting were discovered and the rest is history. Tobias Jesso Jr.’s music is full of heartfelt lines about love and loss. They say that everything happens for a reason, and you don’t get many better examples. —Sophie Day
Best way to greet the grim reaper.
Panda Bear on the Green Stage at 6:25 p.m.
Pitchfork darling Noah Lennox a.k.a. Panda Bear returns to Union Park on the heels of his latest solo effort Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. Indeed, his midlife misgivings seep throughout the album’s lyrics and electro-psychedelic soundscapes. Yet Lennox’s reckoning takes the form of gorgeously layered tracks where funky rhythms romp with airy melodies in a web of reverb. If the Grim Reaper beckons us to chant along to Panda Bear’s looping vocal harmonies we’ll be at the Green Stage to meet him.—Jessica Mlinaric
CHVRCHES, photo by Danny Clinch
Best excuse to dance like no one’s watching.
CHVRCHES on the Red Stage at 7:20 p.m.
This relatively new Scottish-based band CHVRCHES has made a name for themselves in the last few years. Their raucous electronic tunes mix bubbly innocence with a depth and wisdom that makes their ballads and their dance songs universally accessible. Their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, contains several hit singles that you’re sure to have heard, as well as some beautiful sleeper tracks. There are few albums that are better fit for driving down Lake Shore Drive in summer, and I can guarantee that once the opening lines of "We Sink" start bumping through the grounds at Pitchfork, you won’t be able to stand still. —Sophie Day
Best way to sink deeper into the weekend.
Ought on the Blue Stage at 8:15 p.m.
Arty Montreal post-punk outfit Ought offers an angsty, no-wave infused alternative to the venerable dad rock headlining Friday night. Their song “Today More Than Any Other Day” almost mimics the festival experience itself. Just as we’re searching for our footing on day one before finding our festival stride, the song starts with the muffled, meandering repetition of “We feel like we’re sinking deeper.” The tension erupts into a rollicking tribute to mundanity as we’re ultimately reminded, “Today, together we’re all, all, all the fucking same.” Together, we’ve got this. —Jessica Mlinaric
Best argument against Wilco being dad-rock.
Wilco on the Green Stage at 8:30 p.m.
Let me preface this with what should be an obvious statement: Wilco is the Radiohead of the U.S., diverging from this comparison only when Wilco grew in danger of tumbling into its own collective navel. The band managed to climb their way out instead of sinking deeply into self-gratification. Wilco’s recent albums have seen the band moving away from their more experimental inclinations and gravitating towards poppier fields, but their live shows still prove to be adventurous and revelatory. A prime example of this is the way the band treats “Via Chicago,” a track that is a pleasant stroll in its recorded version and a discordant and then glorious anthem when performed on stage. This is because while Jeff Tweedy is the primary focal point of the band, he’s surrounded by such a talented group of musicians it’s impossible for them not to push every song as far as it can possibly go, every single time they perform. Friday’s set will not be one folks can nod off to before going home—I predict it will more likely punch the crowd up with adrenaline through its adventurousness, possibly leading to more folks than expected to keep powering on late into the night. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy