It is almost time for the 8th edition of the Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park in Chicago. The line up this year boasts one of their strongest yet, with Björk, Belle and Sebastian and R. Kelly headlining.
Emerging names like Foxygen, Parquet Courts, TNGHT and Metz continue in the festival’s tradition of providing artists on the brink of breakthrough with a platform to showcase their talents. A solid group of veteran acts including Wire, Swans, The Breeders, Low and Yo La Tengo bring a great dose of musical history to this year’s festivities. There is also a considerable presence of female artists with vast styles ranging from dance to orchestral to folk to pop. Artists such as Glass Candy, Joanna Newsom, Waxahatchee and Sky Ferreira fit that bill nicely.
Below are our favorite selections for the weekend. The full schedule for the fest can be seen here. 3 day tickets are sold out, but you can still buying single day tickets which are almost sold out, so act quickly and get them here. Pitchfork has also provided a playlist of songs from the artists performing which you can listen to here. Check back during the festival as Beats Per Minute will be providing daily updates of the happenings at Union Park.
Frankie Rose, a founding and former member of Vivian Girls, is effectively opening this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival. She brings her dream like vocals that are layered over airy and energetic soundscapes which are bound to set the weekend off on the right note. Arrive early to see this set!
If you are on the lookout for a more energetic and participatory musical endeavor on Friday, Sacramento’s Trash Talk fits the description. Being on Odd Future’s record label lends the band a great sense of volatility and abrasiveness that fits their style of hardcore punk very well. Lead vocalist Lee Spielman often wastes not time at all to getting the crowd involved. Whether it’s tight roping the railing, or more often than not, jumping straight into the audience and forming a circle pit around himself while he belts out a song. We predict a high likelihood of flying bodies and multiple bruises during their show.
Montreal based Mac Demarco is a quirky multi-instrumentalist whose own brand of indie rock mixed with a touch of shoe gaze, has garnered him attention from critics and fans alike. Recently coming off a tour which saw him open for the likes of Phoenix, his relaxed style and persona are perfectly suited for a predictably sunny mid-afternoon set time.
Mikal Cronin has kept himself busy as a member of multiple musical acts including Moonhearts, Okie
Dokie, and his work with Ty Segall. Now he brings a solo set to Union Park with his widely acclaimed album MCII in tow. His newer material has created a cleaner and more concise version of his hazy garage rock style that plays more anthemically than previous works. With his outstanding vocals, Cronin’s set should mix superbly with the summer season.
To what can be almost seen as a perfect setting with the sun ready to dip below the horizon, Joanna Newsom will grace festival attendees with her myriad of sounds. Her smooth and pitch-perfect vocals are sure to captivate anyone listening. A highly accomplished harpist and pianist also, Newsom will draw from her collection of works that sound like no other and transport her audience through various places and emotions. Her set will be a prelude to an artist that can be described as ‘transcendent’ to say the least.
Friday night’s headliner, seemingly needs no introduction. Everyone’s favorite Icelandic import who is in the midst of her 3 year Biophilia tour, comes to Union Park with her own unique blend of artistic aesthetics and raw emotional vocals. Skillfully blending electronica, classical, and avant-garde styles, Björk truly is a genre all her own. All we can really say is this will set the bar for performances throughout the weekend at an almost unreachable level.
White Lung, a Vancouver four-piece, brings the rhythmic pulse of early Descendents coupled with the snarls of Sleater-Kinney. Vocalist Mish Way drapes the band’s assault with style and command. Her often enthralling melodies and shrieks are sure to set the tone for Saturday’s more heavy musical offerings.
The Los Angeles native Julia Holter brings her enchanting and experimental ambient sounds to Union Park. If the heavier fare dominating the earlier sets of Saturday are not your cup of tea, Julia Holter looks to be a fine alternative. Her live performances are moody and proficient, with tracks ranging from concordant or even ethereal, to darker and at times dissolving tones. Above it all, are her almost whispered lyrics that can create a dream like sound which envelopes the listener almost into the sublime.
Brooklyn based post punk purveyors, Parquet Courts, are bound to bring a fresh energy to Union Park. Front man Andrew Savage belts out quasi ironic and sometimes totally random lyrics in a warm, if somewhat monotone voice. Many may come to mosh to the band’s more exuberant guitar driven jams, but will hopefully stay for their more languorous stripped down selections.
The all-female, London based quartet, bring a rarefied energy and focus to their intense brand of post punk. Vocalist Jenny Beth exudes a powerful clarity through her voice that is matched only by the fierce gleam in her eyes as she screams her astute words to an eager audience. She is supported by the raucous rhythms of band mates who back her up with as much attitude as they can muster. It is certainly a heady and heavy combination that will have a large crowd brave the afternoon heat to watch this breakout act.
Placed right in the center of a guitar heavy Saturday schedule, Metz bring a dynamic dose of noise rock that is sure to get an audience into a fury rather quickly. Frontman Alex Edkins leads a trio who literally pummel their instruments into utter submission, with melodic riffs and lyrics to match. Delivering a raw power that has to be experienced live, Metz has an almost never-ending energy and angst that allows them to burst through their songs at a blistering pace.
In what could be termed as the highest risk/reward set of the weekend in regards to newfound listeners, Swans will turn heads far and wide when they step onto the stage at Union Park. Founding member Michael Gira, with his droning vocals and searing guitar riffs leads the unrelenting charge. The band strives to meticulously build intricate sonic atmospheres, only to bludgeon them into oblivion. Their austere, yet indulgent presence has the potential to make their set more than memorable.
With what was a yearly ritual early on in this festival’s history with their “Don’t Look Back” series, The Breeders come to Union Park to play their iconic sophomore release Last Splash. Originally released in 1993 during what could be considered Grunge’s golden age, Last Splash encountered massive success. We expect a lot of attendees in flannel and combat boots pogo-ing up and down to classics like “Cannonball” and “No Aloha.”
Sharing DNA with one of the world’s most prestigious pop artists has certainly been a blessing and sometimes a burden for Solange. Though with the release of her newest album True, she has firmly established her own unique musical identity with a sunny and soulful sound. Her beautiful and bittersweet pop and soul compositions will surely get the crowd in a dancing mood. Solange has been hard at work developing a live show with a fresh effervescence that will no doubt make her stand apart from big sis Beyonce.
Scotland’s own Belle & Sebastian hold a special place in the hearts of many indie music fans. Their sunny and sometimes sad but wistful brand of pop has created a loyal following over a 17 year career. The Glaswegian musical collective is also releasing a rarities compilation titled The Third Eye Centre which includes the new song “Your Cover’s Blown” (Miaoux Miaoux remix). Fans should expect to hear a set which will be a great way to end Saturday night.
To start off your Sunday, Southern California’s Foxygen is the way to go. Their album We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic has them primed for a breakout year in 2013. Having already built a reputation for unpredictable live shows, their mix of 60s psychedelia and indie pop is sure to get the crowd singing along in the sun.
Autre Ne Veut, fronted by Arthur Ashin, seems to be somewhat of an enigma. On the album Anxiety released earlier this year, Ashin brightly croons over a collection of clicks and synthesized strings creating a flowing batch of moody tracks that are nothing less than intriguing. His songs are swaying and sultry, and perhaps more suited to an evening time slot. It will be interesting as to how they translate during the day. Either way, they are another act that should compel you to arrive early on Sunday.
El-P and Killer Mike are currently at the forefront of what is classified as “Alternative Hip-Hop.” Their recent collaboration Run The Jewels has been receiving universal praise from critics and peers alike. Drawing from genres such as electronica, hard style, and of course hip-hop, coupled with their rhyming prowess, it provides an undeniably appealing sound. With what seems to be the best scheduling that could be desired, these two MC’s will definitely join each other on stage and provide an unforgettable performance.
Brooklyn’s Waxahatchee aka songwriter Katie Crutchfield comes to Union Park with tracks comprised of crunchy guitar riffs, minimal percussion, and lyrics sung with a warm yet rough vocals that are reminiscent to a slew of 90s grunge acts. Songs like “Swan Dive” and “Coast to Coast” are a combination of acoustic, alternative, and indie with confessional lyrics that pull you in with a swaying sound. We highly suggest to see this particular mid afternoon set.
L.A. It Girl Sky Ferreira has dabbled in acting and modeling, but focuses mainly on her passion for music. Her current alterna-pop sound is influenced by such varying musical acts such as Blondie, Lil’ Kim and Prince. Her earlier works stand out with a smart sense of tongue in cheek. With her most recent EP however, she has definitely found a depth inside what could be considered a stereotypically shallow pop sound. Tracks like “Everything is Embarrassing” are slowed and soulful, while “Lost in My Bedroom” is a dreamy electro pop gem. With the strength of her newer material, she is poised to prove herself as one of the standout female acts of the weekend.
If you’ve spent the weekend embracing all that the festival has to offer, you might be in need of a bit of a break before the close of Sunday evening. Providing a much needed respite is the refreshing Toro Y Moi. The talented Chaz Bundick blends his chilled out synths with funky beats to create a uniquely calm and cool sound. With his third studio album Anything In Return released earlier this year, Bundick incorporates rhythmical R&B flourishes with tastefully sparse lyrics. This set will definitely provide an opportunity to recharge yourself for what is sure to be a non stop festival finale.
If you are looking for a dance party, look no further than the electro disco stylings of Glass Candy. Johnny Jewel returns to Union Park with his other prominent project off the heels of the recently released After Dark II compilation. Singer Ida No, with her haunting vocal style, puts presence over production in her live performances to create a celebratory atmosphere. Sandwiched between M.I.A. and R. Kelly on a jam packed Sunday night may make catching their set a little more difficult, but it is guaranteed to be worth the effort.
Pitchfork’s booking of R. Kelly is one of their most adventurous and unexpected in recent memory. You cannot deny that there is currently a wave of nostalgia washing over R. Kelly and his collection of R & B hits such as “Ignition,” “Love Letter” and “Bump N’ Grind.” Performing in his hometown of Chicago, Kelly will be welcome with open arms and is sure to deliver a career spanning set that will please fans old and new alike.