Festivals

Who We’re Excited to See at Pitchfork Music Festival 2018!

It’s finally here! Pitchfork Music Festival is this weekend and they’ve curated quite the show. There has always been an emphasis on music that just this side of mainstream, acting as an alternative to the more obvious selections from Lollapalooza. Local acts, sonic and cultural diversity, and just good ole fashioned jams are to be expected at this point considering it’s their 13th festival outing! This year they have certainly doubled down on everything that makes the Union Park festival great with an eclectic lineup including a bevy of Chicago associated acts (14!).

With 42 artists across three days it might be a little difficult to plan out your weekend. Luckily we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites on the lineup that we think you should check out! We tried to stay away from the obvious headliners that you would are clearly going to see (Lauryn Hill, Chaka Khan, etc.) and focus on the rest of the fantastic lineup!

FRIDAY, JULY 20th


The Curls
Green Stage – 1:00pm
Why not star off your whole festival experience with one of the more interesting/weird bands in town. The Curls take a psych pop base and slather it with jazzy horns, funky vocals, punk rock intensity, and cram it into one whacked out package that just wants to jam and have a good time.
-Julian Ramirez

Melkbelly
Red Stage – 1:45pm
Chicago’s Melkbelly mixes messy guitars with and unerring pop sensibility. They may be young but they sound like they have chops beyond their years. Foo Fighters picked them as an opening band for their Wrigley shows so enjoy this set before they hit it big.
– Jim Kopeny

Lucy Dacus
Green Stage – 2:30pm
I first say Lucy Dacus playing at one of the smaller, off to the side stages at Lollapalooza. She had drawn quite the crowd, have just recently signed to Matador and her song “I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore” starting to feel like a modern classic. Her set was perfect for an outdoor festival and if her last Chicago show is any indication, this one will be fantastic.
– Julian Ramirez

Julien Baker
Blue Stage – 5:15pm
Julien Baker writes about pain and struggle, and at only the age of 22 she’s found herself on Billboard charts and in reviews of music magazines. She often sings about her experiences as a queer woman, as a Christian, and her past struggles with addiction. It’ll be interesting to hear her play in a festival setting as opposed to seeing her perform acoustically in someone’s living room.
– Colin Smith

Open Mike Eagle
Green Stage – 4:00pm
Originally from Chicago, Open Mike Eagle is one of the most forward thinking rappers in the business. He blends elements of straight up comedy, dramatic storytelling, and a truly expressive flow together to craft some of the most interesting songs in hip hop (or Art Rap as he calls his style) today. Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, his concept album centered around Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes, pushes all of his strengths to the front and stands as one of his best works.
-Julian Ramirez

Big Thief
Blue Stage – 6:30pm

Adrianne Lenker sings with both strength and vulnerability. On 2017’s Capacity, she compacted her family’s history, her own trauma, and her meditations on femininity and masculinity into one delicate but powerful record. Still, there’s a rock angst amid the poignant personal narratives and the poetics — this could be a set with a lot of cathartic energy.
– Colin Smith

Courtney Barnett
Red Stage – 7:25pm
Vicious and loud, Courtney Barnett’s live sets are searing examples of how to do everything right in rock and/or roll. Expect explosive guitar dynamics and shield your eyebrows, because they’re gonna get singed.
– Jim Kopeny

Tame Impala
Green Stage – 8:30pm
This is a no-brainer. Tame Impala is touring again after taking a break, and now’s the time to see Australian Jesus again. With a penchant for earworm hooks and sonic textures alike, the globe’s beloved psych-rock band is headlining on Friday — and they put on a hell of a show.
– Colin Smith

SATURDAY, JULY 21st

Paul Cherry
Green Stage – 1:00pm
You may have seen Paul Cherry wear his red hat somewhere in the West Side and thought, “Waldo?” He’s a hustler who’s been working non-stop for the past few years, playing in for several bands — from Clearance to Anna Burch — recording, producing, and launching a delectable pop project of his own. Channeling ’70s sunshine pop, Paul McCartney, and putting his music degree to use, Paul Cherry released his jazzy debut album Flavour earlier this year.
– Colin Smith

Circuit des Yeux
Blue Stage – 4:00pm
A low and guttural baritone escapes Haley Fohr’s body and resonate with some epic and droning instrumentation, laying the groundwork for Circuit des Yeux’s masterful and experimental folk sound. Fohr’s striking voice maneuvers through intricate and passionate lyrics that feel as personal as they do universal, really digging themselves in to your head and staying their. Fohr’s no stranger to the Pitchfork stages having performed under her Jackie Lynn moniker in the past, so your in for a treat from this local songwriter.
-Julian Ramirez

Girlpool
Blue Stage – 5:15pm
Girlpool takes ’60s girl group vibes and give them heft that will knock you on your ass. Give in and dance in the midday sun to this set.
– Jim Kopeny

Blood Orange – Photo by Julian Ramirez

Blood Orange
Green Stage – 6:15pm
Blood Orange performed an evening set at Pitchfork two years ago, and we’re excited he’s secured an even more prime spot on the festival’s schedule this year. He released Freetown Sound in 2016, which felt like a glimmer of hope in a year filled with tragedies and darkness, and he plans to release a new album later this fall. And Dev Hynes is a wonderful singer and a powerful songwriter, but he’s also a masterful musician and onstage performer. People don’t give him enough props for his guitar chops.
– Colin Smith

The War On Drugs
Red Stage – 7:25pm
The War on Drugs specialize in long drawn-out tone poems, that mix baking in the sun with rousing in the rain. Lord knows how these folks got so big, but the fact they did shows there’s hope for good music after all.
– Jim Kopeny

SUNDAY, JULY 22nd

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya
Green Stage – 1:00pm
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya bends genres at will as his experimental sound takes cues from hip hop, punk, jazz, R&B, and honestly who knows what else. In the end Ogbonnaya’s sound is whole heatedly unique and brimming with excitement. His onstage presence is just as intense as he darts through stage and crowd with props and unbridled enthusiasm.
-Julian Ramirez

Kweku Collins
Green Stage – 2:30pm
I met Kweku Collins at the Closed Sessions studio space when he was playing Tony Hawk on Playstation. While I had to wait a minute to interview the co-founder of Closed Sessions, Collins engaged me with a pleasant conversation. He’s no more than a few years out of high school, he’s performed as a slam poet, and he’s a high-rising artist in the Chicago area. He’s also deep and introspective, as humming on the meaning of life on his songs that hold the intimacy of bedroom recordings.
– Colin Smith

Ravyn Lenae
Red Stage – 3:20pm
You might be noticing a pattern with this year in particular: Pitchfork is booking a lot of Chicago artists, especially in the realm of hip hop and R&B. Ravyn Lenae, a student from Chicago High School for the Arts, has already appeared with local artists like Noname and Smino (both who are also playing the fest), and echoes the likes of Kelela, Erykah Badu, and OutKast. Channeling both jazz and soul, the 19 year old artist sings with a melancholic but self-assured voice.
– Colin Smith

Noname
Red Stage – 5:15pm
As Colin just mentioned, Pitchfork is rife with local acts and hip hop sounds are ranking high. Noname is definitely one of the reason. Over the past few years she has made a name for herself with some amazing R&B tinged tracks that propel her intense and dense lyrics into the spotlight. She’s a fun and engaging performer and one that should not be missed!
-Julian Ramirez

(Sandy) Alex G
Blue Stage – 6:30pm
Once called “the internet’s secret best songwriter” by The Fader, Alexander Giannascoli has grown a lot by then. And not just because he was still a teenager. Alex G, who still favors recording at home than at a studio, beckons comparisons to the Elliot Smith for his songwriting style as well as lo-fi aesthetic. He’s an artist comfortable with following his ideas.
– Colin Smith

Japandroids
Blue Stage – 7:45pm
Two dudes. A wall of noise. Decadent riffs countered by chaotic drumming; what more do you need? Sloshed beer, pumped arms and sweaty foreheads will make this set unforgettable.
– Jim Kopeny

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Hopefully our picks can help you get your schedule nice and tight for this weekend! If you still haven’t gotten your tickets, you still have time. Regular three-day passes ($175), single day tickets ($75), and Pitchfork Plus tickets ($375) are still available! You can purchase them over at Eventbrite!

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