A preview of Pitchfork Fest 2023
Claire Lyons | Sunday, July 16, 2023
Pitchfork Festival is making its 17th return to Union Park next weekend. It is hosted by Pitchfork, an indie-darling online music magazine, guaranteeing the festival’s lineup sports a unique assortment of beloved musicians and underground up-and-comers. If you’re attending the festival, Scene has a list of acts you don’t want to miss; if you aren’t attending, The Observer’s got you covered next weekend.
Toronto-based indie-pop band Alvvays (pronounced always) has been on the Scene since 2014 with the release of their self-titled album. Singer-songwriter Molly Rankin’s soft voice adds an ethereal and wistful quality to the surf-rock qualities of the band, elevating every release to be both dreamy AND danceable. Thanks, Alvvays, you’ll be in my “Dreams Tonite.”
Coming out of the gates swinging in 2016 with releases ”Masterpiece” and ”Capacity,” Big Thief quickly launched into indie-folk stardom. Fronted by poetically lyrical mastermind Adrianne Lenker, gutting lines like ”There is a child inside you who is trying / To raise the child in me” and ”Real love makes your lungs black / Real love is a heart attack” will build worlds with just words, transporting you into another dimension with its backing instrumentals.
If you haven’t heard of Bon Iver, I don’t know what kind of rock you’ve been living under. After several features on Taylor Swift’s new releases and Birdy’s cover of ”Skinny Love,” Bon Iver has expanded past just the band’s stardom, influencing today’s music industry as a whole. Although the band has become increasingly experimental, my hope for this performance is that they will strip back (to their roots!) in an acoustic set of ”For Emma, Forever Ago,” to honor the album’s 15th anniversary.
Although Illuminati Hotties have been around since 2017, they are only just recently gaining traction. Their sound hails from the ”Riot Grrrl” movement — a feminist punk movement that originated from the Pacific Northwest in the early ‘90s. Hey, it looks like the movement has made its way down to LA, and now Chicago.
JPEGMAFIA is no secret to rap fans everywhere but hasn’t quite hit the mainstream success of Lollapalooza headliner Kendrick Lamar. JPEGMAFIA has an incredibly unique sound due to the production elements he accumulated from traveling — his difficult upbringing in the deep rural south and his several different deployments in the military. In 2023, he released a collab album with experimental rapper Danny Brown. Going forward, JPEG is definitely somebody to keep an eye on.
When Melbourne-based artist Julia Jacklin sings ”Pressure to come up with conversation / Makes the family fine with my isolation / I know I’ve locked myself in my room / But I’ll open up the door and try to love again soon,” I feel like part of that resonates with everybody (at least a little). Her ability to mine her own experiences and create deeply personal art is a true testament to an artist’s vulnerability.
Reminiscent of The Misfits (but only a little), London-based King Krule’s sometimes indiscernible South London accent croons over surf-rock and hip-hop-inspired beats. After writing ”Out Getting Ribs” at only 17 years old, King Krule hit his stride in his early twenties and continues to impress his audience. Pitchfork Fest is one of the earliest performances of his latest release from this June, ”Space Heavy.”
For those who are fans of Animal Collective, band member Panda Bear is going solo this time. Taking inspiration from the Beach Boys and hip-hop producers like Madlib, Panda Bear’s songwriting is rife with harmonies and samples.
After releasing her debut no-skip album ”Lush” at only 17, singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan set a high bar that has only been exceeded by her sophomore release “Valentine.” If somebody can write “Speaking Terms” — with lyrics “Say what you gotta / Sleep in somehow / Leave things on speaking terms / And I’ll see you around” — while still in high school, their career is only destined to go upward.
With a crooning, sprawlingly deep voice reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, Weyes Blood flawlessly belts out notes that are sometimes only hit in studios. Her fourth album ”Titanic Rising” was nominated as 2019’s best album by Pitchfork, NPR and The Guardian.
The official Pitchfork Music Festival playlist is below: