One of the absolute best things about any Pitchfork Music Festival lineup is the eclecticism. There are only 14 artists each day and no more than two stages operating at the same time, allowing you to get exposed to all sorts of music you might not listen to otherwise. Sure, not everything will be to your tastes, but there’s also joy in discovery and the chance to broaden your horizons just a bit.
There are a whole lot of great artists packed into Friday at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, and plenty of rewards for those willing to show up early and ready to explore. Below you’ll find an hour-by-hour guide for the day, complete with a little information about each artist as well as recommendations on which ones you absolutely shouldn’t miss. Let’s dig in!
The Pitchfork Music Festival 2022 Playlist
1:00 – 1:40 Arooj Aftab
It’s tough to classify Arooj Aftab’s sound, and that’s by design. Born in Pakistan but currently based in New York, Aftab is essentially a composer and vocalist who pulls from a variety of genres, including jazz, folk, and classical. Her second album Vulture Prince was one of 2021’s finest, and even earned her a Grammy for Best Global Music Performance. The record functions as a meditation on grief, complete with gentle strings and keys, a distinct lack of percussion, and one incredible voice at the center of it all. Aftab’s performance most likely won’t be the most thrilling or energetic of the festival, but it could be one of the most emotionally resonant.
1:45 – 2:25 Ethel Cain
Ethel Cain is the stage persona of Hayden Anhedönia. Her debut album Preacher’s Daughter arrived a couple of months ago, and provides nearly 80 minutes of slow-moving Americana with splashes of pop in between. It doesn’t always work, especially as the record drags on and features quite a few songs that go a minute or two longer than they probably should have. Last year’s Inbred EP played around with a few different sounds, but these days it seems she’s settled on trying to swim in Lana Del Rey’s pool but with a darker, more gothic feel. When it works, Ethel Cain seems like the next big thing. And maybe she will be soon, so now’s a great time to get on the Cain train.
2:30 – 3:15 SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE
2:45 – 3:30 Tkay Maidza
Four albums in, SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE finally hit their stride. Their 2021 record ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH managed to confound and inspire in equal measure, ultimately adding up to one of the year’s best. They are very much a rock band, but are purposefully unfocused and play around with found sounds, psychedelia, loud distortion, and electronics in a DIY way unlike many others. It should be a thrill watching them bring these songs to life on stage.
Tkay Maidza is also the sort of artist who likes to play around with genre. Last year the Australian wrapped up a trilogy of EPs that effortlessly blended pop, rap, and R&B with her dexterous wordplay and grandiose personality. Honestly, she’s quite a character, and her songs are supremely catchy and fun. It’s a minor surprise that she hasn’t yet become a huge star in the US, but one of the best things about Pitchfork is being able to see great artists before they hit it big.
3:20 – 4:10 Wiki
New York rapper Wiki (aka Patrick Morales) has lived quite a bit in his less than 30 years on this planet. That’s clearly evident in his records, which often focus on life in the city and how it can change you, harden you, and leave you feeling lost in an area you once thought you knew. 2021’s Half God was one of his best, offering deeper introspection and emotional vulnerability than previous albums as he reflected on how elements like gentrification have robbed his neighborhood of its character. His tracks might be more hypnotic than high energy, but the stories he tells and the personality he brings to the stage should make for a very compelling festival set.
4:00 – 4:45 SPELLLING
4:15 – 5:10 Indigo De Souza
There’s been plenty of talk about Kate Bush these last couple of months thanks to Stranger Things, and as exciting as it is to have a semi-dormant icon reaching newfound levels of popularity, it’s worth noting there’s an heir apparent to Kate Bush already waiting in the wings. That honor goes to SPELLLING, the Oakland-based artist also known as Chrystia Cabral, who takes listeners on a complex and ornate journey through off-kilter pop melodies paired with dark, reflective truths. The star of the show is her lilting yet powerful voice, which manages to sound great through the more lo-fi synth-focused experiments of her first two albums and even better when cleaned up against a full string section. Here’s hoping her weird and wonderful songs translate into a weird and wonderful live performance.
Indigo De Souza has played around with styles a little bit in the past, trying out everything from rap to jazz to dance pop just to see what suits her. Last year she released her second album Any Shape You Take, and it’s clear she’s found a focus and success through the lens of indie rock. It helps that her voice is well suited to the genre, capable of going from a quivering murmur to a painful howl with such ease and vitality you’ll instantly buy into whatever emotion she’s selling from moment to moment. So she can sing about acceptance and love for all her friends on a bouncy pop-focused number like “Hold U” then aggressively plead for death on the grunge-laden “Kill Me” and it’s all powerful, raw nerve. She puts on a great show too, worthy of the larger Green stage.
5:15 – 6:10 Tierra Whack
5:15 – 6:00 Camp Cope
Remember a few years ago when Tierra Whack released her debut album Whack World? It was 15 tracks, and each one was exactly 60 seconds long. It’s a weird feeling to listen to an entire record in only 15 minutes and still be exhilarated by how colorful, strange, and catchy it was. In the time since then, Whack has gone on to collaborate with a whole bunch of artists, including Childish Gambino and Meek Mill. She’s put together a few one-off singles, and most recently this past December released a trilogy of EPs that saw her playing around in three different genres: Rap?, Pop?, and R&B?. The scattershot approach was fun to a degree, but also could feel a little unfocused and diluted in spots. Still, it should be interesting to see how those forays into other styles have changed her live show, which has typically been high energy and lots of fun.
The trio known as Camp Cope cut their teeth in the Australian emo pop-punk scene, building up a steady following with two albums that went loud and hard. Then the pandemic hit, and as the members all scattered to various other pursuits, upon their return they decided to embrace a lot more softness and calm. Their new album Running With the Hurricane may appear to be thrilling based on the title alone, but a majority of the songs have a very gentle nature and focus on embracing your own vulnerabilities. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the paths taken by Waxahatchee and Angel Olsen as of late, and for Camp Cope this shift in gears also works quite well. Plenty of their driving, aggressive material remains in the set lists, and honestly there are a lots of head nodders on the new record too, so don’t expect them to deliver a set that’s anywhere close to mellow at Pitchfork.
6:15 – 7:15 Parquet Courts
6:30 – 7:15 Dawn Richard
It’s been fascinating to watch Parquet Courts evolve over the course of the past decade. They started out as a jittery rock band that wrote driving anthems in what almost felt like an alt rock/punk hybrid, but quickly incorporated elements of blues, synth-pop, and world music. Right around 2018’s Wide Awake they really started to focus on polyrhythms and dance rock, only to even more fully embrace the scope of that on last year’s Sympathy for Life. Honestly, their career trajectory has followed very much in a Talking Heads sort of mold, though I’ve yet to hear a Parquet Courts song played on the radio in Chicago. Maybe someday soon. Friday will mark the band’s fourth time playing at Pitchfork, and they’ve become one of the mainstays of the festival for a good reason.
Dawn Richard has been around for a while now, getting her start in the pop group Danity Kane, following it up by becoming part of the duo Dirty Money, then quickly establishing her own solo career when they disbanded in 2012. Now six albums in, Richard has established herself as something of a jack of all trades. She continually blurs the lines between R&B and pop music, but also isn’t afraid to explore the worlds of soul, funk, hip hop, and blues. Her latest album Second Line: An Electro Revival includes a whole lot of synths and house beats, keeping you moving while tossing all sorts of avant-garde concepts and even elements of jazz into the mix. It’s a remarkable, wonderful record that’s reminiscent of Solange’s most recent efforts in that you can bump it at a relaxed “hang out” sort of party. The last time Dawn Richard played Pitchfork she really turned her set into a fun time, so hopefully the tradition continues on Friday.
7:25 – 8:25 Spiritualized
7:45 – 8:30 Amber Mark
One could argue that Spiritualized have never made a bad album. The “space rock” band have been around since 1990 and the only one of their records that to my mind misses the mark is 2003’s Amazing Grace. Everything else is uniformly excellent and worth your time. Of course 1997’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space could be considered their unimpeachable classic, but even the newer stuff like Everything Was Beautiful from earlier this year is quite good. Sometimes they’re one of the most exciting bands around, chugging along with 7-minute doses of psychedelia. Other times they take it slow and easy, often to convey weariness and general malaise. Their live shows aren’t always the most energized exercise, especially since frontman J Spaceman (aka Jason Pierce) sits in a chair the entire show. But when they really get going and dive into some classic material you’ll want to be there and bear witness. A Spiritualized live show can be something of a rare thing these days.
Amber Mark – what a talent! Similar to Dawn Richard, she’s an artist who likes to mix things up and play around in genre, starting from an R&B base then often pivoting to pop, dance, or even touches of bossa nova when the mood strikes her. After a few years of EPs and one-off singles, Mark finally released her debut album Three Dimensions Deep earlier this year, and it’s a highly engaging and immensely addictive record that for some reason reminds me a lot of early Beyonce. The star of the show is her husky voice, which hits in different ways depending on what she’s aiming for. Most of the time it manages to wring the most complex emotions from every song. She even makes the rare misfire sound good, selling a clunky lyric by virtue of tone and enunciation. She’s pretty great live too, so by all means check her out if Spiritualized isn’t doing much for you.
8:30 – 9:50 The National
The National are and remain one of the best bands in indie rock today. Have their last couple of albums been…less good than their previous six? Kinda. But there are gems to be found on every National record, and even something like 2019’s I Am Easy to Find has a handful of brilliant tracks. For a band that’s been around as long as they have (20+ years at this point), sometimes you lose steam or start to repeat yourself. It’s almost inevitable. I don’t want to spend this paragraph criticizing The National, because even though they’re not quite as popular or dominant as they once were, you can’t go wrong seeing them in concert. When they hit some higher energy moments on stage and Matt Berninger gets all invigorated behind the microphone, there’s nothing quite like it. When they dive into material from their truly great decade of about 2005-2015, it can make your head spin with its greatness. The National will bring their spectacular live show to Pitchfork to headline for a third time, and it’s not to be missed!