17 Bands To See At Pitchfork This Weekend
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 14, 2016 8:29PM
The crowd at last year's Pitchfork Music Festival (By Jessica Mlinaric)
The weather should be lovely (knock on wood) this weekend for Pitchfork Music Festival, which means that instead of running for cover, everyone should have full days to enjoy everything the fest has to offer. You could just set yourself in the middle of the main field and angle your chair back and forth to take in the main stages, sure—but where’s the fun in that? Pitchfork is about discovering new acts as much as it's about appreciating the headliners. Below, we've rounded up the acts, big and small, that we're most looking forward to.
Whitney (Photo by Sandy Kim)
Whitney at 4:15 p.m. on the Blue Stage
Chicago’s Whitney features ex-members of Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Their debut Light On The Lake came out this year just in time for summer, and its intricate, delicate numbers still manage to sound big and gently groovy. There’s definitely a late ’60s and early ‘70s vibe going on here, and it’s shaping up to be one of our favorite records of the season. Their set should sound perfect in this more secluded area of the park on a sunny afternoon.
Twin Peaks (Photo by Daniel Topete)
Twin Peaks at 5:30 p.m. on the Red Stage
Also from Chicago, Twin Peaks slowly morphed from a crazy teenage garage band into something slightly resembling a more adult sound, albeit one that’s still rooted in Nuggets-era song craft. On this year’s Down In Heaven, the boys keep things mid-tempo and fuzzy for the most part. Live, though, the band is still a crazed beast—when Twin Peaks played the festival in 2014, vocalist and guitarist Cadien James didn’t let a broken ankle keep the band from tearing up the stage.
Carly Rae Jepsen (Photo by Hazel & Pine)
Carly Rae Jepsen at 6:25 p.m. on the Green Stage
This is a no brainer. Carly Rae Jepsen is great. She created one of our favorite (if criminally underappreciated) albums of 2015, and when we interviewed her earlier this year she won us over further. We had the chance to see her play Metro a few months ago, and we can guarantee that she has an energetic live show that feels more like a rock set than a choreographed pop performance. Give in to Carly and let your E•MO•TION run away with you as you dance through her entire set.
Broken Social Scene (Photo via their Facebook page)
Broken Social Scene at 7:20 p.m. on the Red Stage
Pitchfork and Broken Social Scene have a weirdly symbiotic relationship, since both came to real prominence at roughly the same time despite having been around for years. As music blogging exploded and Pitchfork started to come out as the frontrunner of critical opinion, the bands they championed suddenly started selling oodles of records, and this Canadian collective was one of the first to benefit with 2002’s You Forgot It in People. We haven’t a clue which members are showing up for the show (we wouldn’t count on Feist making an appearance), but their live sets have always been grandly sublime. And this time slot, with the sun slowly setting over the park, could result in something magical.
Shamir (Photo by Jessica Mlinaric)
Shamir at 8:15 p.m. on the Blue Stage
Shamir’s set last year started late and was cut short by a storm evacuation—but what we saw was amazing. His voice is capable of amazing tonal dexterity, simultaneously bending like a rubber band and remaining clear as a bell. His ballads transport you to a romantic cavern of longing, and his more up-tempo numbers kick off dance parties that are basically mandatory. We’ll warn you from experience—when he rips into “On The Regular” or “Hot Mess” you’d better be ready to bounce up and down with your hands in the air or get out of the way.
RP Boo (Photo via his Bandcamp page)
RP Boo at 1:45 p.m. on the Blue Stage
Chicago’s RP Boo was a footwork pioneer in the ‘90s, and many credit him with genre’s creation. We’re looking forward to opening our day with his gently propulsive grooves. Think of it as a warm-up for the afternoon that will probably end as a full-fledged workout as Boo’s beats carry you away.
Royal Headache (Photo by Jon Hunter)
Royal Headache at 2:45 p.m. on the Blue Stage
This Australian combo has got a Guided By Voices-meets-punk-garage vibe. Once RP Boo has worked you into a sweat, stick around for Royal Headache. Their back-to-basics sound with a super-strong sense of melody should be just the thing to kick the day into overdrive.
Digable Planets at 3:20 p.m. on the Red Stage
If the younger attendees want to see a ton of old people flocking to a stage for a hip-hop set, this is the place to be. The group’s laid-back sound is a progenitor of what later became backpack rap, and their 1992 hit "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" was a hit on college campuses. The band’s members are excellent songsmiths, and their set's worth checking out for the songs as well as the olds.
BJ the Chicago Kid (Photo by Shawny Smiters)
BJ the Chicago Kid at 5:45 p.m. on the Blue Stage
BJ the Chicago’s eagerly awaited debut, In My Mind, came out earlier this year on Motown Records, and the album’s sound is steeped in that label’s history. The old school vibe is tempered by a modern hip-hop mentality, though—BJ made his name appearing on tracks by artists including Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q. We spoke to BJ earlier this year and can’t wait to see him take the stage this weekend.
Super Furry Animals (Photo via their Facebook page)
Super Furry Animals at 6:15 p.m. on the Green Stage
It’s been too many years since Super Furry Animals played Chicago, so this is easily this writer’s most anticipated set of the weekend. These Welshmen have a deep discography stretching back two decades and their records expertly blend genres, hopping from psychedelic freak-out to disco to quiet country ballads. The band has been largely dormant since 2009’s Dark Days/Light Years, and the release last May of their first single since then and this appearance have us hoping for new music from the band. Do not miss this set.
Brian Wilson (Photo via his Facebook page)
Brian Wilson at 7:25 p.m. on the Red Stage
Brian Wilson is performing the Beach Boys’ masterpiece Pet Sounds in its entirety. Someone coming to that album fresh for the first time might have a hard time understanding why it was so groundbreaking. At the time of its creation, the idea of adding intricate arrangements to deeply spiritual, emotional lyrics was virtually unheard of in rock music. Rock music was for kids, and this took that idea to the next level, so maybe that’s why the album is often described as “teenage symphonies to God.” If that doesn’t sell you on this, consider that The Beatles created Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as a response to Pet Sounds. Beatles producer George Martin once said, "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper never would have happened Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds." This is the other can’t miss set of the weekend.
Woods at 2:30 p.m. on the Green Stage
Woods’ latest album, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, is a breezy grower, and once it latches onto you, you won’t want it to let go. The Brooklyn band excels at building sunny, slightly orchestra-pop tunes that will help you ease into the final day of the fest.
Kamasi Washington (Photo by Mike Park)
Kamasi Washington at 3:20 p.m. on the Red Stage
We are extremely curious to see how this goes over. Free jazz on the main stage? We’re all for it. Next to the Sun Ra Arkestra (playing earlier Sunday) this is easily the most unexpected performer of the weekend, but we’re excited to see what Washington brings to such a large venue.
Holy Ghost! at 4:15 p.m. on the Green Stage
We know LCD Soundsystem is coming to Lollapalooza in a few weeks, but until then, Holy Ghost! can give you your dance-rock fix. This spring’s Crime Cutz EP shows the band is still strong when it comes to creating disco-inflected, crowd-pleasing grooves. We expect that the entire field will dance in unison at this set. If we’re lucky, we may even get another “Cut Copy Moment.” Not familiar with these guys? If you’re a fan of Chromeo you will like Holy Ghost! too.
The Hotelier (Photo by Kylie Shaffer)
The Hotelier at 5:45 p.m. on the Blue Stage
The Hotelier is emo. One listen to their latest album Goodness confirms it. Let’s just embrace it. They're at least not histrionic mall-punk ego; The Hotelier’s sound hews more closely to late '90s and early aughts stuff that would have fit right in on the Deep Elm Records roster at the time. Their album is full of big chords matching even bigger lyrics—and from all accounts their live shows are a punch in the face, so they have that going for them too.
Jeremih (Photo via his Facebook page)
Jeremih at 6:15 p.m. on the Green Stage
Chicago native Jeremih finally dropped his long awaited Late Nights right near the end of last year, so you didn’t see it on many year-end lists it should have rightfully appeared on. Even our list, unfortunately, didn’t include him; the album is a grower that takes time to really insinuate its charms into your consciousness. Jeremih works in the same territory as The Weeknd—to these ears—but we find him to be sexier and less plaintive or mournful. That makes Late Night a more deeply satisfying listen overall.
Miguel (Photo via his website)
Miguel at 7:25 p.m. on the Red Stage
Can you think of any reason not to take in Miguel’s sultry R&B? All of his hits double as magnificent makeout tracks: "Coffee," "Waves," "Simple Things"... We’re content to let this be the last big act we take in, though we could also hang out in the back of the field and let FKA Twigs slowly close out our night.
The Pitchfork Music Festival is from July 15-17 in Union Park and tickets are still available.