Saturday at Pitchfork is going to be a very fun day. It’s also going to be a very weird day. If you like fun and weird, you’re in for a real treat. There’s a taste of jazz thanks to Jeff Parker & The New Breed, as well as a reunited Karate. Strange pop music will come from Hyd, yeule, and (to a degree) Magdalena Bay. In the mood for some absolutely filthy rap? Chicago’s own CupcakKe has you covered. Toss in some strong, energetic rock from The Linda Lindas and The Armed to get people moving. Dry Cleaning and Low take more angular and oddball approaches to rock music, which is its own reward. Then the singer-songwriter contingent gets the back-to-back-to-back combo of Lucy Dacus, Japanese Breakfast, and Mitski. Who could ask for more?

After the jump you’ll find the Saturday Preview Guide, featuring an hour-by-hour breakdown of the day, along with a bit more information about every artist to help you manage those conflicts and learn more about the names you haven’t heard before. I hope this is helpful as you prepare for a weekend of fun at the 2022 Pitchfork Music Festival!

The Pitchfork Music Festival 2022 Playlist
Pitchfork Music Festival 2022: Friday Preview Guide

1:00 – 1:40 Jeff Parker & the New Breed
You may know Jeff Parker as a member of the legendary Chicago rock band Tortoise. When he releases solo material, it’s all about the jazz. Specifically “new” jazz or “experimental” jazz. He plays around with a lot of sonic textures and samples in his music, often incorporates pre-made beats and other elements, then does some incredible things with his guitar that invigorate and inspire. It’s not your typical jazz, and that’s a big part of what makes his records so exciting. At Pitchfork he’ll be playing with a few friends that he’s dubbed “The New Breed” after his 2016 album. They may help bring some of his compositions to life, or it could all just end up being 40 minutes of freeform experimentation. Show up early and find out!

1:45 – 2:25 CupcakKe
The career of Chicago rapper CupcakKe has been something of a roller coaster. When she started releasing tracks a decade ago, she’s became known as one of the filthiest rappers around. I’m convinced some of her tracks would even make Cardi B blush a bit. Just the titles alone (“Cumshot”, “Best Dick Sucker”) are enough to make people’s eyes go wide. Things changed around 2019, when she took a hiatus due to mental health issues. Upon her return several months later, she expressed serious concerns about the effect her music was having on kids, having seen a number of videos where young children were rapping along to her tracks. That said, she’s released a series of one-off tracks over the last couple of years that are a bit cleaner in nature, though not by much. Did I also mention she’s hilarious? Maybe don’t bring your kids to see CupcakKe’s set, but for those that know, it’s going to be extremely filthy and extremely fun.

2:30 – 3:15 The Linda Lindas
2:45 – 3:30 The Armed
Pitchfork looks to the next generation of rock stars by booking The Linda Lindas as a replacement for Chubby & The Gang, who canceled all of their summer tour dates a couple of weeks ago. The Linda Lindas are a four-piece band from Los Angeles whose members range in age from 12 to 18. In their couple years of existence, they’ve managed to open for Bikini Kill, perform as themselves in the Amy Poehler-directed riot grrrl Netflix film Moxie, and have one of their live videos go viral as they performed the song “Racist, Sexist Boy” in a public library. Their debut album Growing Up came out this past spring, and it’s packed with super catchy power-pop and punk songs that both address the insecurities of youth and make brazen political statements. Quite frankly, they’re awesome. Expect a very fun set, worth showing up early in the afternoon to see.

If you’re on the lookout for something completely bonkers insane at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, look no further than The Armed on Saturday afternoon. Eight members deep, they identify more as a collective than an actual band, and their absurdly maximalist sound mixes hardcore punk, noise rock, and pop elements into what feels like a sonic battering ram charging at you full speed. In addition to their songs being very loud and rather catchy, there’s a whole performative aspect to The Armed that elevates things to a whole other level. Everyone in the group is physically shredded, as if they spend all their non-music free time in the gym pushing for gains. They then take that physicality and unleash it on stage in a spectacle you’ll marvel at provided you’re not trapped in some crazy mosh pit. Even if you don’t love their music, the entertainment value of The Armed is through the roof.

3:20 – 4:10 Hyd
The UK-based hyperpop collective known as PC Music have been around for quite a while now, though the sound they initially perfected has only recently made its way into popular culture thanks to groups like 100 gecs. Back in 2014, a mysterious artist named QT released a song on PC Music titled “Hey QT” that was an immensely addictive little pop song. The actual artists behind the track were PC Music stalwarts A.G. Cook and SOPHIE, but the face and branding of QT in photos and press materials was Hayden Dunham. Even though Dunham didn’t have anything to do with the sound of QT, that didn’t stop them from creating music on their own. Several years later, Dunham now goes by Hyd, and released their self-titled debut EP last fall. If you’re a fan of artists like Caroline Polachek and Charli XCX, Hyd’s sound falls somewhere in between the two. It’s catchy, interesting, and slightly off-kilter electro-pop that’s pretty good but also doesn’t quite reach the heights of others in the genre. In other words, Hyd has room to grow. Here’s hoping their Pitchfork set will showcase some new material that hits the proverbial sweet spot.

4:00 – 4:45 yeule
4:15 – 5:10 Dry Cleaning
Somewhere in the vast ocean between modern technology-centric weird pop musicians like Grimes, Holly Herndon, and Bjork lies yeule (aka Nat Ćmiel). They’re doing such strange and fascinating things with traditional pop music structures it almost defies easy description. That’s a positive thing, especially since so many artists remain locked into simplistic song structures and melodies. yeule is an innovator, and serves to challenge preconceptions. Press materials often refer to yeule as some sort of cyborg, as if they were programmed to make music by some outside force or creator. Yes, it also sounds like some industry BS just to get people talking. You may be able to dance to yeule’s music in spots, but even if you’re not moving hopefully your eyes will remain glued to the stage for what should be a fascinating performance by a fresh voice in the ever-expanding world of pop.

Last year, UK band Dry Cleaning arrived with their brilliant debut album New Long Leg. On it, they pair post-punk sounds with the dry and rather droll vocals of Florence Shaw. Shaw is an absolutely magnetic presence, often delivering wry, observational lyrics in a spoken word (and occasional sing-speak) tone with the affectation of someone bored out of their skull. It works in direct contrast with the spiky guitar riffs and almost mechanical drumming, to the point where even the most casual listener catching a piece of a song while walking past might stop for just a minute to try and figure out what’s going on. Dry Cleaning are hilarious and weird and offer a surprising amount of restraint on stage. Those not immune to their charms should be riveted by their Pitchfork set.

5:15 – 6:10 Magdalena Bay
5:15 – 6:00 Iceage
Magdalena Bay’s Mercurial World was one of the best albums of 2021. The duo’s sound is synth-pop with a dash of vaporwave, falling somewhere in line with Chvrches, Grimes, and MGMT on the stylistic spectrum. But more than anything else, Magdalena Bay know their way around a hook. Nearly every song has an instantly memorable chorus that gets trapped in your head, at least until the next one hits. You can often recall one of their songs instantly just by seeing the title somewhere. The band is also very fun! Their aesthetic focuses mostly on the dawn of the internet era, where 8-bit video games and Geocities websites were very basic yet cluttered with clunky graphics. On stage they wear bodysuits and interact with a floating AI head with a voice that somewhat sounds like Siri. All of that is to say if you like catchy synthpop songs and maybe a bit of dancing, do not miss Magdalena Bay, who feel very much destined for bigger and better things.

Iceage have evolved so much over the last decade. Starting out as bitter nihilists leaning into the destruction of the world around them, they’ve slowly and methodically stepped away from that jaded outlook and toward something softer, kinder, and more optimistic. It’s kind of weird to listen to their first record New Brigade and contrast it with their fifth (and latest) Seek Shelter because they basically sound like two different bands. Now there are horns and a gospel choir and Britpop influences coming into their sound instead of simple, barebones guitar-and-drums punk rock. Some of their lyrics even offer words of comfort to the downtrodden, even though songs like “Vendetta” sound like the equivalent of a knife fight on a dancefloor in the late ’80s. As a live band Iceage may no longer fling themselves into the crowd with great abandon, however frontman Elias Rønnenfelt still sings like a preacher spitting fire onto a crowd of unbelievers. Good stuff!

6:15 – 7:15 Lucy Dacus
6:30 – 7:15 Karate
Lucy Dacus is one third of the supergroup trio known as Boygenius. The other two members of that band are Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. I mention this not so much because Boygenius is noteworthy and worth checking out (they are), but because Dacus’s sound as a solo artist compares quite nicely with those two others’ solo work. Soccer Mommy and Snail Mail also fall into that same category of somber singer-songwriters, or what some probably call “sad girl music.” Yet their sounds and approaches are distinct enough to show there are shades to every genre and room enough to accommodate everyone provided they have the talent to back it up. And Lucy Dacus does have immense talent! Her songwriting is one of her strongest features, as songs like “Thumbs” and “Pillar of Truth” have proven with their stellar and harrowing lyrics. While Dacus does have a fair share of slower songs that can drag down a festival set in the hot sun, she’s been upping the tempo and guitar volume on some of her more recent tracks, so that should go a long way toward grabbing and keeping the crowd’s attention as the sun starts to sink in Union Park.

The Boston band Karate broke up in 2005. Singer Geoff Farina cited hearing loss as the primary reason for disbanding, as 12 years of touring in support of six critically acclaimed albums took their toll. Yet in the time they’ve been gone, Karate’s status has grown throughout the underground as more people began to discover their records. This past spring they officially announced a reunion tour, and Pitchfork Music Festival is one of the first stops on it. Karate’s sound managed to blend a number of different genres, including emo, punk, and post-rock, but they’re most widely known as being a jazz-rock band. Think of them as some sort of cross between Steely Dan, The Sea & Cake, and Joan of Arc, if that’s at all helpful. When you’re hanging in the shade over by the Blue stage taking a breather and it’s early evening on Saturday, the smooth and vital sounds of Karate will probably sound pretty great. I’m intrigued to hear how they’re sounding after so many years away.

7:25 – 8:25 Japanese Breakfast
7:45 – 8:30 Low
Michelle Zauner, aka Japanese Breakfast, had one hell of a 2021. Not only did she release the most critically acclaimed (and Grammy nominated!) album of her career with Jubilee, but she also released a best-selling autobiographical book (still on the charts after 50 weeks!) and the original soundtrack to a video game. There’s definitely more I could include, but those are the major highlights. Oh, and the incessant tour she embarked on last year that took her all over the world and included four sold out shows at Thalia Hall in Chicago. Pitchfork marks the first time she returns to the city since last October, and it comes with a major bump to the pre-headliner time slot worthy of her current high profile. Her live performances tend to be very fun and energetic, with room to slow things down for rich atmospherics and emotional moments in spots. You’ll get saccharine synth-pop moments like singles “Be Sweet” and “Everybody Wants to Love You,” but also explorations of more traditional indie rock and shoegaze on “Diving Woman” and “Posing for Cars”. It promises to be a delight, and honestly a perfect set-up heading into Mitski’s set.

A quick story about Low. One summer evening in the mid-00s, I went with some friends to Chicago’s Millennium Park to see a few bands play for free. One of the bands either near or at the top of the bill that night was Low. My friends had never heard of them, but were open to the experience. About three songs into their set, they decided to leave out of sheer boredom. Now to be clear: Low are not a boring band. A lot of Low’s music falls under the slowcore genre however, which means you’re not getting much in the way of uptempo or aggressive songs. They are methodical in execution, and in the right environment/mindset, can totally blow you away. My friends, casual music fans at best, had no patience to absorb a smartly executed Low performance on a hot summer night. You may feel the same way at Pitchfork. Just know this band has never made a bad album, that they continue to find unique approaches to a relatively static sonic palette, and you can expect intermittent squalls of noise amid even the most ambient of stretches. You will be surprised by a Low show. Sometimes it will sound like they’re playing a decaying instrument or have accidentally blown out a speaker. This is by design. Embrace Low doing their thing, and you will be rewarded.

8:30 – 9:50 Mitski
Closing out Saturday at Pitchfork will be a performance from Mitski. The last time she was at the festival, her set was late afternoon on the Blue stage. How she’s risen to headliner status can largely be attributed to Gen Z and their rabid fandom. TikTok probably had something to do with it. She’s certainly not getting much radio airplay around the country, nor has she made many TV appearances or gone viral for doing something astounding. But check her Spotify streaming numbers and you may be shocked. Most moderately popular artists pull in maybe a few million streams on some of their bigger singles. Mitski’s totals are in the hundreds of millions. It’s wild to see such organic enthusiasm for an indie artist, selling out every date on her tour. Opening for Harry Styles on a bunch of other dates. All this after she quietly vowed to quit the music industry following the success of her 2018 record Be the Cowboy. Once the promotional tours were done, in which she put on a very artistic live show with a storyline, characters, props, and staged decor, she announced an “indefinite hiatus” out of sheer burnout. Cut to the pandemic and the realization she contractually owed her label one more album. Laurel Hell came out this past winter, and she’s agreed to tour and support it because she believes in the material and loves her fans. Will she actually quit for good after this tour? Her continually expanding fan base certainly hopes not. But if this is Mitski’s last hurrah, it’ll be nice to see her one last time taking a top spot at Pitchfork Music Festival.