By Erin Dickson
After a cancelled 2020 and a couple of lineup changes along the way, this year's annual Pitchfork Music Festival kicks off this weekend in Chicago’s Union Park. My personal favorite music fest, Pitchfork is the perfect place to see your favorite bands, and to discover new ones, too. This year's lineup is especially stacked with acts that vary across all genres including a handful of hometown heroes.
Here is a list of eight of the sets that I’m definitely not going to be missing.
Gonna start off with the elephant in the room. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Phoebe Bridgers. After her 2020 album, Punisher, was released (in addition to a subsequent rise to TikTok fame with her 2017 song “Motion Sickness”), Phoebe saw an explosion of success. Originally slotted lower on the lineup for the cancelled 2020 fest, she has since been promoted to headliner. Personally, I am absolutely stoked to see her. I’ve been a fan since 2017 and seen her with her side projects Boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Center but have never seen her do her own show. Her own personal blend of sad indie rock will be the perfect closer for the first night.
Listen to: Georgia
Where to see them: Friday, Green Stage @ 8:30 p.m.
Special Interest released one of my favorite albums of 2020, so I’m very excited to see, what I’m imagining is going to be, one of my favorite sets of the fest. This New Orleans-based group combines a multitude of genres such as punk and electronic to create music that is both angsty and danceable. The group originally formed as a duo and only intended to play one show. Since then, the original two, Alli Logout and Maria Elena have been joined by Nathan Cassiani and Ruth Mascelli. They’re known for having a pretty crazy live show so this is definitely one act to make sure you catch.
Listen to: All Tomorrow’s Carry
Where to see them: Sunday, Red Stage @ 1:45 p.m.
Yet another one of my favorite albums from last year was Heaven to a Tortured Mind by Yves Tumor. An act that combines psych, rock and electronic, Yves is sure to have you grooving in no time. They have released a handful of singles as well as an EP this year and they're one of the most exciting and innovative acts performing. If you don’t mind missing some of Thundercat’s set (way to go with that scheduling, Pitchfork) this will definitely be worth it.
Listen to: Dream Palette
Where to see them: Sunday, Blue Stage @ 5:15 p.m.
This is another pretty obvious one since Kim Gordon is an absolute rock-and-roll legend. Best known as the vocalist, guitarist and bassist for the iconic alternative rock band Sonic Youth, Kim has since ventured out as a solo artist with her first solo album, No Home Record, released in 2019. Her signature style of “talk-singing” combined with moody instrumentals will hopefully draw a crowd of both old and new fans.
Listen to: Murdered Out
Where to see her: Saturday, Green Stage @ 6:15 p.m.
The one thing you need to know about Horsegirl is that they’re definitely cooler than you are. They’re actually cooler than you’ll ever be. Consisting of Nora Cheng (she/her), Penelope Lowenstein (she/her) and Gigi Reece (they/them), Horsegirl was formed as a result of a joint taste in music. They only have a three song EP out right now but they just got back from a four-date Midwest tour earlier this summer that concluded with a sold-out show at the iconic Schubas Tavern. Not to sound dramatic but Horsegirl is one of the best things coming out of Chicago right now so it’s probably safe to say that you’re not going to want to miss their performance.
Listen to: Sea Life Sandwich Boy
Where to see them: Saturday, Green Stage @ 1:00 p.m.
Faye Webster has become somewhat of a recent obsession of mine. Her new album I Know I’m Funny haha was released in June and is the perfect cry album. Based in Atlanta, Faye’s voice is unique and soothing and her songwriting is simultaneously hyper-specific and intensely relatable. She’s playing at the same time as Waxahatchee which is a little bit of a bummer if you’re a fan of both but she will definitely be worth it.
Listen to: Kingston
Where to see her: Saturday, Blue Stage @ 4:00 p.m.
I actually saw Black Midi at the last Pitchfork Fest back in 2019 and it was an absolute mess in the best way possible. It had rained the night before so the entire field was muddy, resulting in a pretty crazy mosh pit. Since then they’ve released a new album, Cavalcade, and really expanded their sound from a disjointed blend of rock and jazz fusion to a….slightly more refined disjointed blend of rock and jazz fusion. A lot of people don’t fully understand what Black Midi is all about which seems to be entirely the point. I, personally, don’t really know how they’re going to be able to top their 2019 set but I’m excited to find out.
Listen to: Despair
Where to see them: Friday, Green Stage @ 4:15 p.m.
Fresh off of the road opening for the first leg of Phoebe Bridgers’ tour, Bartees Strange is definitely an act to get to the fest early for. Influenced by a multitude of artists ranging from Dababy to MeWithoutYou, Bartees doesn’t like to be confined to one genre. You can catch him directly after Horsegirl’s set
Listen to: Flagey God
Where to see them: Saturday, Red Stage @ 1:45 p.m.
Learn more about Pitchfork Fest on their website!