The Pitchfork Music Fest Acts We Want To See The Most This Year (Besides The Headliners)
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 13, 2017 2:50PM
Are you ready for a magical weekend of music and mystery? Photo by Annie Lesser / Chicagoist
This year's installment of the Pitchfork Music Festival boasts a whiplash inducing whirlwind of diverse talents, and there's plenty on the bill to please even the choosiest of musical tastes. We're not going to waste your time telling you to see mainstage headlining acts LCD Soundsystem, A Tribe Called Quest, Solange, PJ Harvey, Danny Brown, or Dirty Projectors. We all know that those artists are pros and can be counted on to deliver sets worthy of their top billing. (Though, truth be told, of the headliners we are most excited to see what PJ Harvey and Solange have cooked up since both have a history of reinventing their live shows in boundary pushing and exciting ways. But we digress.)
Instead, here's a sampling of acts further down on the bill—some more familiar names than others—whose sets you can count on seeing us taking in front and center of their respective stages throughout the weekend at Union Park.
Priests, photo by Audrey Melton
Priests at 1:45 p.m. on the Green Stage
Don't roll in Friday afternoon expecting the lazily slip into the Pitchfork spirit when Priests hit the stage. The D.C. band's Bodies and Control and Money and Power EP made quite the impression on us when it came out in 2014, a collection of shrieking, shredding primal punk rock driven by the otherworldly screams and sighs of vocalist Katie Alice Greer. This year's Nothing Feels Natural was their first proper full-length and while it sanded down some of the band's more caustic edges of noise, they did so in hopes of focusing the urgency of the songs into something more direct and less like a shotgun blast of sound.
Vince Staples at 4 p.m. on the Green Stage
We just saw Vince Staples guest with Gorillaz at their Chicago show last week, so we already know that the guy has a commanding stage presence. So that makes us all the more excited to see how material from his excellent new album Big Fish Theory translates into a live setting. The album is an adventurous blend of hip-hop channeled through a twisted outer-reaches version of house and stuttering underground club beats, spiked with Staples' mesmerizing vocal delivery and surreal turns of phrase.
Thurston Moore Group, photo by Vera Marmelo
Thurston Moore Group at 5 p.m. on the Red Stage
On Rock N Roll Consciousness Thurston Moore continues down the more pastoral territories his previous band explored closer to the end of that group's existence. Moore got his start deconstructing rock and roll, bending its preconceived structural notions into unfamiliar shapes that often felt itchy and uncomfortable. The songs on Rock N Roll Consciousness try to blend the old with the new, with most tracks stretching into the ten-minute mark as Moore mixes conventional moments with long stretches of wandering and exploring guitar lines. This might be a good time to find some shade and open yourself up to altering your consciousness to get lost in the inevitable improvisational stretches of music this set is sure to contain. Just don't get too comfortable, because we predict there will be a few barbed guitar lines along the way to drag you back into the moment.
Cherry Glazerr, photo by Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Cherry Glazerr at 2:45 p.m. on the Blue Stage
L.A's Cherry Glazerr is led by the commanding presence of Clementine Creevy, and on this year's Apocalypstick the trio has scraped the more shambling elements from their earlier work and replaced them with a sharper, more glittery sound. The band has logged in plenty of miles touring, so that mixed with the excellent batch of new songs should make their early Saturday set an excellent eye-opener and mood-setter for the rest of the day.
George Clinton, photo by William Thoren
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at 4:15 on the Green Stage
George Clinton and his sprawling band of musicians with impeccable skills and dressed in outlandish garb will provide a history lesson in who is the funkiest of them all for all gathered about the band for their set. Clinton's musical career began with doo wop in the '50s, but it's his '70s work combining psychedelia with soul and inner-dimensional forays into beats that blow the mind and electrify the asses of anyone within earshot to this day. As an original architect of that genre known as funk, he is probably only rivaled by the Godfather of Soul James Brown as far as how deeply his influence has reached into almost every sound from the underground to the radio that still gets hips in motion to this day.
The Feelies, photo by John Baumgartner
The Feelies at 5:15 p.m. on the Red Stage
New Jersey's The Feelies have been together for 40 years, but their sound is still closer to a bunch of kids making glorious noise in their parent's basement than it is to any agin nostalgia act. On a songs like "Been Replaced" or "Gone, Gone, Gone" on this year's In Between—their first new album in 6 years—the quintet mixes chugging riffs and rhythms over buried vocals and lead guitar lines that snake in and around the racket, acting like silver threads adding flashes of beauty to the proceedings.
NE-HI, photo by Bryan Allen Lamb
NE-HI at 2:30 p.m. on the Green Stage
Chicago's NE-HI has been making a name for themselves through steady gigging and the resulting slow and steady accumulation of both fans and buzz. In February they released their sophomore album Offers, and started to make the case beyond their live sets that the chatter around them was based in something beyond having influential friends. The lo-fi collection is bursting with nervous, youthful energy that tries to present itself as swagger but is all the more endearing because it's obvious these cats are just giddy to be playing their music for people that actually enjoy listening to it. We predict their Pitchfork appearance might have the same effect on . their career as past Chicago groups at similar points in their career who made fest debuts in Union Park (we're looking your way, Twin Peaks).
RIDE, photo by Andrew Ogilvy
RIDE at 5:15 p.m. on the Red Stage
RIDE's first new album in over 20 years, Weather Diaries, somehow finds the seminal Britpop shoegaze group returning to the scene without having aged a day. It's not like the gents in RIDE stopped making music during those last two decades, Andy Bell most famously spent a stint as the bass player in Oasis, but it is a surprise that those years of experience haven't tainted the magic that happens when these four musicians come together. So this won't be so much a nostalgia set as it will be a reaffirmation of the group's creative powers. That said, you can fully expect us to melt into a puddle of happy tears if RIDE decides to play "Vapour Trail," one of the most majestic songs of their, or any, career.
The Avalanches, photo by Steve Gullick
The Avalanches at 6:15 p.m. on the Green Stage
Last year's Wildflower was the loooooong awaited follow-up to the Australian DJ collective / sound artists The Avalanches 2000 debut , Since I Left You. That earlier album has long stood as a masterpiece of sampling and sound collage with a deep groove, and the anticipation for a sequel had grown so gargantuan it seemed foolish to even attempt to deliver on expectations. But Avalanches are an inscrutable bunch, and while they took their sweet time to deliver Wildflower, it was worth the wait. While not as sublime as Since I Left You, Wildflower delivered the group's essential woozy, psychedelic vibe, slightly updated for our times.
The Pitchfork Music Festival is July 14 to 16 in Union Park, and while three-day passes are sold out, single day and VIP (Pitchfork +PLUS) tickets are still available.