Top Tens: Acts to Watch at Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago 2016
Tomorrow, the annual Pitchfork Music Festival starts in Chicago from July 15th – 17th at Union Park, and this year’s diverse lineup ranges from indie rock to pop and dark electronic to footwork. Here’s Editor Rupa Jogani’s Top 10 Acts she’s excited to see at this year’s festival.
The Range, aka James Hinton, put out an incredible sophomore album this year with Potential, which is already one of my favorite electronic pieces of the year. His performance at Pitchfork 2014 was a showmanship of solid DJing while altering his own songs for a live set. Using Chicago’s own footwork as the backbone of many of his previous works, Hinton balances duality of sound and atmosphere perfect for another round at Pitchfork.
If you’re craving full-fledged footwork, Indiana-based Jlin released her frenetic debut album Dark Energy last year. The music culminates in a chaotic clash of anger and tension against blissed out lines making you want to vent out all of life’s frustrations. It’s heavy, exciting and is darkly beautiful. She’s gained a lot of traction and attention in the last year so keep your eyes on her set for a very promising future.
I’ve gushed about Shamir since my year-end lists in 2014. His debut album Ratchet is still one of my go-to pop albums when I want to throw some serious side-eye. His performance at last year’s Pitchfork was shortened due to heavy rains and equipment mishaps, but seeing ‘On the Regular’ live was a real thrill. Plus, his crowd surfing with a cigarette effortlessly dangling from his lip and a blasé look in his eye made us bask in his sheer coolness.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Yes, it seems uncharacteristic that I’d have Carly Rae Jepsen on my list of who-to-see-at-Pitchfork, but hear me out – this girl nailed nostalgic 80s synth pop in 2015 as one of the most underrated pop albums of that year. While excessive attention was pointed to Bieber’s apologetic comeback (with only 4 worthwhile songs for that matter), Carly Rae Jepsen put out a masterpiece with hit after hit. Do yourself a favor, pile on your energy reserves for her 6:25PM set on Friday and don’t. Stop. Dancing.
I’ve penned near a thousand words on my admiration of FKA Twigs over the last few years so if you’ve known me for more than a minute, you know that I really, really like her. Her performance in 2014 at Pitchfork Music Festival was jaw-dropping – it flowed with sensuality, avant-garde styling and dancing, and everyone on the the grounds started making out. She’s an incredible performer and if you’ve seen any of her live gigs you already know you should not miss out on her headlining slot on Friday.
This year’s Pitchfork lineup boasts a heavy lineup of women and black artists which makes me incredibly happy, and NAO is leading the front on alt-pop music. Her ability to choose production that exists between funk, soul, dubstep, bass-driven tracks and UK influences and, when she adds her rich vocals to the mix, makes for something very special. Her lyricism, which is simple, clean and direct, is intoxicatingly sing-along worthy and has great energy for a festival set.
The three years between Dev Hynes’ releases of Cupid Deluxe (2013) and this year’s impeccable Freetown Sound offers a broad look into black culture. On the heels of Kendrick’s TPAB, D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, and Beyonce’s superb visual masterpiece on black women and their power, Freetown Sound carries these messages forward, while Dev Hynes’ offers his own outlook. He’s known for powerful live sets and amidst this political and racial landscape, his Pitchfork set is bound to be memorable.
ANDERSON .Paak & the Free Nationals
Malibu, the latest album from Anderson .Paak is fun R&B pop that takes on musical styles from numerous eras (70s, 60s, 90s, bam!) for a diverse and excitable sound. It changes direction so fluidly and frequently that we’re taken on Paak’s personal journey through his past and where his future leads him. He’s bringing a live band with him for his performance which will add further depth to an already rich album.
Former WU LYF frontman Ellery Roberts teamed up with visual artist Ebony Hoorn to create his latest project, LUH. Featuring production by Haxan Cloak (a dark favorite of mine), their music is grating, maximalistic, and hits you with a wall of sound to off-set the poppier aspects of the festival lineup. If you’re into heavy atmospheres and dissonant sounds, make sure to check them out on the Blue Stage.
In all honesty, I haven’t kept up with Beach House in recent years since I moved past my 2010 sad song feels (taking on new types of melancholic, heart-wrenching tunes). Doesn’t change the indisputable fact that Beach House is stellar live, cemented after I saw them in 2012. They were made to perform at Pitchfork for headlining slot and college Rupa is looking forward to crying on a large field.