By Keidra Chaney
Pitchfork Music Fest Weekend is upon us once again. It’s traditionally been the “tastemaker’s festival” of the summer, where this year’s Pitchfork buzz acts become next year’s Lolla lineup. This year’s crop offers a decidedly local flavor, in a way hearkening back to the festival’s roots in Chicago, starting with the Pitchfork-curated Intonation Festival back in 2005. The city’s own Wilco and Chance The Rapper bookend as headliners on Friday and Sunday (with a reunited Sleater-Kinney closing Saturday), but there’s a whole lot to check out in between, from the fest itself to a whole slew of aftershows all weekend long. I had every intention of going to P4K this year, but I’m ninety percent sure I’ll be out of town, so I’ll share with you the schedule I have planned. If any of you take my suggestions, let me know how it all worked out.
I’d get out of work early and ease into my weekend with Chicago’s own guitar wunderkind Ryley Walker on the Blue Stage at 3:20pm, then run over to check out Drake acolyte/rival ILoveMakonnen on the Green Stage at 4:35pm. Friday at Pitchfork Fest tends to not be hugely eventful because the heavier rock bands that I prefer tend to show up on Saturday and Sunday, so I’d take a long break and check out the vendor booths to kill time before seeing a bit of Panda Bear on the Green Stage at 6:25pm, then leave early to jet over to the Red Stage for Chvrches at 7:20pm. This is a group that took time to win me over, because I found a lot of their synth covers of classic rock and R&B hits nearly intolerable, but their latest album has grown on me; it’s dance music that sounds BIG, like a rock band, and it’s likely to sound pretty good on the Red Stage. Wilco plays on the Green Stage at 8:30pm, and while I probably wouldn’t stick around, I am sure everyone else will.
Aftershow picks: If you’d rather see Chvrches, Panda Bear plays Thalia Hall on Thursday (1807 South Allport, 8:30pm). Likewise, if you want to skip Ex-Hex on Saturday, check them out a day early at The Empty Bottle (1035 North Western, 9pm).
Saturday is packed with talent but is also a day with hard choices. That is, if I was actually going. For some reason nineties alt-rock throwback band Bully takes the Blue Stage at pretty much the same time (1:55pm) that Detroit post-punkers Protomartyr (1:45pm) plays the Red Stage, so I’d have to flip a coin for that one. (Or just wait to check out both bands on a double bill that night at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, 11pm.) Making things even more complicated, hip-hop production collective Future Brown plays on the Green Stage at 2:30pm and Mary Timony’s badass punk trio Ex-Hex plays the Red Stage immediately after that at 3:20pm. Needless to say, after rushing from stage to stage nonstop for a few hours, I’d take a food and beer break until A$AP Ferg at 5:45pm. Everyone seems to be talking about Future Islands right now, so I’m sure they’ll have a big crowd over at the Red Stage at 7:25pm, but I’d choose to amble over to the Green Stage and check out The New Pornographers at 6:15pm, then and elbow my way into a decent spot for Sleater-Kinney at 8:30pm.
Aftershow picks: The Protomartyr/Bully show mentioned above or Ryley Walker/Viet Cong at Subterranean (2011 West North, 11pm).
So Mourn is taking up the “teen rock band with promise” slot that Twin Peaks did in roughly the same time slot last year at Pitchfork, and I would either check them out at 1:55pm on the Blue Stage or catch their aftershow at Schubas (10:30pm). I’d stick around to see the triumphant return of Kathleen Hanna and The Julie Ruin on the Blue Stage at 2:50pm. (Hanna was supposed to play the festival last year but cancelled her 2014 tour to recover from a relapse of lyme disease.) Of course, to see Hanna, I’ll be missing the brilliant Madlib performing with Freddie Gibbs at 3:20pm on the Red Stage, so if hip-hop is more your thing than rock, choose them instead. Truth be told, I would probably take a long break after that to prepare my mind and body for the Thunderdome that will be Run The Jewels and Chance The Rapper. They’re going to be back to back, with RTJ taking the 7:25pm spot on the Red Stage and Chance the Rapper following at 8:30pm on the Green Stage. As far as I’m concerned this is probably the highlight of the festival, so be sure to stay hydrated all weekend and save your energy for what’s sure to be an explosive way to end the fest.
Aftershow pick: If you have the energy, you can cool down with the slow jams of How to Dress Well at Lincoln Hall (2424 North Lincoln, 10:30pm).