I’m pleased to say that we’ve arrived at Day 3 of the Pitchfork Music Festival preview guide. This of course falls during Pitchfork Music Festival Week here on the site, which kicked off on Monday with an Artist Guide, and featured a preview of Day 1 on Tuesday and a preview of Day 2 on Wednesday. So yes, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground so far, and there’s plenty more to go. After today’s preview guide of Day 3, I’ll have day-by-day recaps of all the festival action, and we’ll wrap things up with a final look back at the weekend, plus look at a whole bunch of photos. This is going to be fun! If you’re headed to Union Park this weekend, please remember to dress for the weather (it’s going to be HOT, but will get progressively cooler with each day, and with the potential for severe storms all day Friday). Sunscreen, bug spray, etc. will be your best friend. Also remember to stay safe. Drink plenty of water, and if you’re moshing at any point, keep an eye out for your neighbor. This is one of the friendliest, nicest music festivals you’ll ever go to, so please don’t be “that guy/girl” and take away the enjoyment factor for so many. Sit back, relax, and party with great music and amazing vendors. Here’s your preview guide to all the artists you’ll see on Sunday at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival!
DJ Rashad [Blue Stage, 1:00]
Tree [Green Stage, 1:00]*
If you love Chicago hip hop, make sure to show up early on Sunday. MC Tree released his Sunday School mixtape last year and it attracted the right kinds of attention. He’s probably going to be the next Chief Keef by this time next year, meaning that he’ll be one of the hotter names in emerging hip hop provided things swing his way. As a result, it might be a good idea to catch his set. But then there’s also DJ Rashad, who is an up-and-coming name in his own right. He’s one of the pioneers of Chicago’s juke music scene, which blends elements of house, ghetto house, disco, juke and ghettotech to create something wholly unique and intensely danceable. His set will undoubtedly be fun, especially watching him piece together so many samples from such a wide variety of sources. In the end though I think Tree will put on the better show, where stage presence is half the battle.
Autre Ne Veut [Blue Stage, 1:55]
Foxygen [Red Stage, 1:45]*
This is a much tougher conflict than it might appear on the surface, but follow your heart and your musical tastes when making a decision. On the one hand you’ve got Autre Ne Veut, which is Arthur Ashin’s experimental R&B project. His debut album Anxiety is extremely catchy, almost to a fault. I suppose if you get bludgeoned by a chorus enough times of course it’s going to stick in your head. Really it’s passionate and carries a moderate energy with it that could be nice for a Sunday afternoon. Then there’s Foxygen. Their second record, released earlier this year, has earned them quite a bit of attention, and rightly so. They’re very much a backwards-leaning band, often coming off like a more psychedelic version of The Rolling Stones, and their songs are entertaining and addictive in the right context. I brushed them off the first time I heard them, then later went back to their new album and it turned me into a huge fan. All indications are their live shows are unpredictable and wild, with frontman Sam France being very interactive and at times antagonistic with the crowd. Let’s hope he doesn’t freak out on somebody, or if he does, that it’s super entertaining.
Blood Orange [Blue Stage, 2:50]
Killer Mike [Green Stage, 2:30]*
Blood Orange is the project of producer/remixer/songwriter extraordinare Devonte Hynes. He’s worked with and helped creat some of the most memorable songs from artists like Basement Jaxx, Florence + the Machine, Solange and Sky Ferreira, among others. But in between all of his producing and remixing work, he’s found the time to make his own music. It’s best described as modern new wave with a slight twist of R&B. It’s great material for chilling out and maybe doing some light dancing, which is ultimately what that largely shaded Blue stage area is best for. Yet you’d be almost foolish to turn down a set from Killer Mike. His R.A.P. Music album from last year is an incredible accomplishment in a career filled with them. Not only that, but this year has him teaming up with his friend and producer El-P as a new duo called Run the Jewels. Their debut album is fantastic, and with their sets back-to-back at stages right next to one another, expect them to crossover multiple times. It’s the best hip hop you’ll hear all weekend.
Waxahatchee [Blue Stage, 3:45]
El-P [Red Stage, 3:20]*
As I just mentioned, Killer Mike and El-P are likely to show up during one another’s sets to perform Run the Jewels material along with stuff from their own individual records. Much like Killer Mike, El-P has done pretty well for himself on his last few records. Bits like 2012’s Cancer 4 Cure and 2007’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead are essential hip hop records from the last few years, and his collaborations with rock stars like Trent Reznor have helped turn him into something of a crossover artist as well. But maybe hip hop isn’t your thing. Maybe you watched Killer Mike’s set and decided you didn’t need to see anymore. Waxahatchee has you covered. The project of Katie Crutchfield, her second album Cerulean Salt is one of the year’s standout records so far. Things might get loud and just a bit punk rock during her set, and paired with her hyper-personal and intimate lyrics it’s not something your hear everyday. A girl with an electric guitar singing deep songs is about as opposite as you can get to the hip hop of El-P.
Sky Ferreira [Blue Stage, 4:45]*
Yo La Tengo [Green Stage, 4:15]
This can’t be the right choice, can it? Choosing Sky Ferreira over Yo La Tengo? Well, let me try and reason with you on this one. Yo La Tengo played at the Pitchfork Music Fest a couple years back, and they were promoting their 2009 album Popular Songs at the time. That was certainly not one of the band’s best, and a lot of those tracks populated their set list that hot afternoon. Beyond the relatively so-so songs, their set lacked a certain energy that you might otherwise expect from a band with such a spectacular back catalogue. Unimpressed though I was, I remain impressed with the band’s most recent effort Fade, though that’s not quite a freight train of energy either. From a technical perspective it’s great though, so maybe it’ll be worth it to watch these seasoned live performers do their thing this time around. I’m placing my bets on Sky Ferreira though. She’s a pop sensation that just hasn’t quite had her moment in the spotlight just yet. Her song “Everything Is Embarrassing” has been getting the right kinds of attention, but a debut album from her is still forthcoming due to label issues. Expect her to blow up huge, so see her now at a smaller, more lightly attended festival before she’s doing something much, MUCH larger.
Chairlift [Blue Stage, 5:45]*
Lil B [Red Stage, 5:15]
People love Lil B (aka Brandon McCartney), and in some respects I can understand why. He’s a pretty strong lyricist, and when he gets paired with the right beats the results can be magical. The problem is that he’s not always on top of his game. Working independently and self-releasing virtually all of his music, he puts out so much material in a given year it can be hard to keep up with. And when you’re doing so much, it quickly becomes a case of quality vs. quantity. Still, Lil B has a huge fan base, and they’ll love and defend virtually everything he does. If you’re interested in something other than hip hop, Chairlift is a spectacular alternative. Their last album Something went a long way towards proving that Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly can do so much more than be one-hit wonders. They’re the rare band that got better with their sophomore album rather than fell into a slump. The songs are catchy and the energy level should be high, so if it’s of any interest don’t miss them.
Evian Christ [Blue Stage, 6:45]
Toro y Moi [Green Stage, 6:15]*
When I think about Evian Christ, what immediately comes to mind is Jesus drinking a bottle of mineral water. After that, it’s how inventive he is as a producer and electronica artist. He’s able to take a lot of avant-garde sounds and textures and blend them together in a swirling mixture to create something that’s not only different but completely palatable. He’s only put out about 8 or so tracks at this point, but they’ve all been pretty great. Christ’s set certainly won’t be the most exciting of the weekend, but it may be one of the most interesting. If excitement is what you’re looking for, Toro y Moi can help. After an initial phase that had Chaz Bundick being labeled as part of the chillwave movement, he’s taken the project well beyond those stylistic gates and into something that’s energetic, intensely danceable and R&B influenced. His new album Anything in Return may not be his best, but it still features a number of fun and worthwhile tracks. Who’s up for a late Sunday dance party? If you can muster up the energy, Toro y Moi should be a great time for that.
Glass Candy [Blue Stage, 7:45]
M.I.A. [Red Stage, 7:25]*
Johnny Jewel is a fantastic producer, and he’s rightly earned a lot of attention these last couple years for his many ’80s synth/electro-pop projects. One of those projects is Chromatics, who released the excellent Kill for Love last year, and also performed at Pitchfork Music Festival. This year, Jewel returns with Glass Candy. It’s still got a lot of the same synth and electronic-based sounds of his other stuff, but is more of an equal partnership with vocalist Ida No. It’s very interesting and even great, but doesn’t quite compare to the star power that wlll be M.I.A. After a couple of critically acclaimed records and a massive hit single in the form of “Paper Planes,” M.I.A. stumbled a bit on the abrasive MAYA back in 2010. Now she’s got a new album that will hopefully see release this year, provided she can satisfy her record label’s demands to make the album “less positive.” Seriously, who says an album is too positive? Anyways, she’ll likely do some new material, which will be exciting to hear, along with the classics like “Paper Planes” and her most recent single that’s everywhere, “Bad Girls.” In other words, it’s going to be great to hear what she comes up with.
TNGHT [Blue Stage, 8:45]
R. Kelly [Green Stage, 8:30]*
Have you given a close listen to Kanye West’s new album Yeezus? If so, you’ve probably heard bits and pieces from TNGHT before. It’s highly enjoyable, creative and energetic electronica that you can certainly appreciate at night with the end of a long festival weekend. Of course it’s no R. Kelly. Nothing quite compares to him, which is why I suppose choosing him as a headliner for this festival seems out of place and a tad controversial. The man has certainly had his ups and downs over the years, and his most recent resurgence thanks to the complete absurdity that is “Trapped in the Closet” should help make his set one of the most entertaining you’ll see all weekend. For all we know, it could turn out even better than the way Aziz Ansari described it. Even more interesting will be how all this plays to a largely white crowd, which is the exact opposite of the sort of crowd he normally performs for. However it goes down, you’re probably going to want to be there to see it. I don’t even like R. Kelly’s music and I’m looking forward to his set. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, I’m not sure what does. It’ll put a fascinating cap on the festival and the entire weekend as a whole. I hope you’ll be right there with me for it.
TOMORROW: FRIDAY RECAP!