FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Pitchfork Music Festival 2015’s Best After Shows

Cerise - Photo c/o Virgin Hotels

After the show, it’s the After Party…

– Sean “Jay Z” Carter

Pitchfork Music Festival is hands down my favorite yearly music festival, and one of the reasons is the beautiful city of Chicago that plays host every year. I’m not one for camping music festivals, partially because I enjoy showering off the sweat from the day before, but also because after the music ends at the hosting park, I like to venture out into the big city and see some more amazing music in a much more intimate setting. The After Shows and After Parties are yet another reason to love Pitchfork Music Festival, tailored specifically for the night owl in all of us.
Chicago is home to some of the best music venues I’ve ever stepped foot in. With every passing festival, clubs and venues large and small open their doors to hundreds of people lucky enough to get tickets to the after parties; whether they’re festival attendees itching for more music or stranded fans not lucky enough to get a 3-Day Wristband around their wrist. Last year gave us the opportunity to see Real Estate & The Walkmen’s Peter Matthew Bauer at Lincoln Hall a night before they took The Red Stage on Sunday. This year, Pitchfork Music Festival has some amazing Official After Shows and Parties on tap, some hosted by perennial favorites, and three very special new ones hosted by the most talked about beautiful new hotel in The Windy City. We present you with our list of the Five After Shows we’ll definitely be staying up late for, then, we sort through the remainder of the list of 15 After Shows to make your decisions a little bit more difficult.

#5  Panda Bear w/ Bitchin’ Bajas | Thalia Hall | Thursday, July 16 – 8:30PMPandaBear_FernandaPereira_1
When this show was first announced I was surprised to hear that Thalia Hall was hosting it, and ultimately disappointed it show was booked on the Thursday before the festival begins. The gorgeous, newly renovated, theater on the south side of Chicago will be a fantastic host to the Animal Collective member, but seemed a bit small for as popular as I assume Panda Bear is. Either way, fans in attendance should consider themselves lucky: this is going to be an amazing show. Get ready to dance, because Thalia Hall is going to be hot on Thursday night.


#4 How To Dress Well w/ Lower Dens | Lincoln Hall | Sunday, July 19 – 10PM HowToDressWell_byZackeryMichael

Read my preview for Pitchfork Day Three, and you’ll understand why I’m so excited to see HTDW on Sunday night. I first saw Tom Krell live in a small club in Madison, on Easter Sunday in 2012. Opening for Sky Ferreira that night, How To Dress Well performed an unbelievably beautiful set of minimalistic R&B-infused electronic pop, wearing his influences on his sleeve. I’m not about to turn down another chance to see Krell perform live in a smaller venue, and it’s an added bonus that the venue will be none other than my favorite Chicago Venue, Lincoln Hall.

Opening the show will be Lower Dens, a fitting support act for How To Dress Well. Lower Dens have received a swarm of critical acclaim following March 2015’s Escape From Evil, and like Krell, Jana Hunter has an equally introspective style to music, turning real life experiences and emotions into potent music that strikes a chord with any listener. Get there early, because Hunter’s Lower Dens is sure to win some new fans over on Sunday night.

Cerise - Photo c/o Virgin Hotels
Cerise – Virgin Hotel Chicago | Photo c/o Virgin Hotels

#3 Vic Mensa (Live) & Stefan Ponce (DJ) | Virgin Hotels Chicago | Friday, July 17 – 10PM
These next three shows are all hosted by the same venue, so in case you can’t tell already, we’re really excited about the venue. The brand new Virgin Hotels Chicago just opened up earlier this year, and is prime for some amazing shows on Pitchfork weekend, with two “venues” ready to accommodate those lucky enough to get in.

The lineup for the weekend’s shows at Virgin don’t hurt either, the first night kicking off with a live performance from Vic Mensa on the 25th Floor of the Virgin Hotel, and local production phenom Stefan Ponce (prod. for Childish Gambino, Chance The Rapper and Mensa) will DJ from Cerise, the hotel’s rooftop lounge area, overlooking the city skyline. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about this place.

#2 Future Islands w/ Hit City USA (DJ) & The Orwells w/ Ex Hex | Virgin Hotels Chicago | Saturday, July 18 – 10PMFuture-Islands-4
Those Virgin Hotel-induced goosebumps will spill over into Saturday night. If you’ve ever seen Future Islands frontman Samuel T. Herring dance, you can tell the dude probably knows how to have a good time. In fact, everything I’ve ever seen from any of the members of Future Islands suggests not only do they all know how to cut loose, but they also appear to be incredibly laid back. Herring is also known to rap, quite well actually, so here’s to hoping that at some point during the weekend, we’ll get to hear “Hemlock Ernst.”

Joining Future Islands DJing from the rooftop on Saturday night will be Hit City U.S.A., an independent label based out of L.A., who’ve helped the careers of Lord Huron, Superhumanoids, Avid Dancer and more. Also on the bill Saturday night are festival performers, Ex Hex and Chicago-based The Orwells. Both will bring high energy rock music to the 25th floor space of the hotel.

#1 HAIM (DJ) w/ A Surprise Live Performance | Virgin Hotels Chicago | Sunday, July 19 – 10PMgrant_g_haim02jr_576x32411
Our favorite rock group comprised of three sisters will be performing a DJ set from the rooftop of Virgin Hotel Chicago, to close out our weekend of events. HAIM’s live shows are one of the few that can actually rival the brilliance of a Future Islands show, so we’re betting Danielle, Alana and Este will let loose on Sunday night, much like their band-turned-DJ counterparts the night before. The band is on tour with their bestie, Taylor Swift, and there’s a special Secret Live Performance scheduled that night at the hotel. I probably shouldn’t speculate, much less put those two notions in the same sentence, but even the combination of one of our favorite musical groups and the phrase “Surprise Live Performance” has us all giddy with excitement… Enough to name this our number one After Show of the upcoming weekend.

One thing I think we failed to mention about these Virgin Hotel shows: THEY’RE FREE. Just head over here and RSVP.

Virgin Hotel - Chicago | Photo c/o Conde Nast
Virgin Hotel – Chicago | Photo c/o Conde Nast

Here’s a look at the rest of the weekend’s late night activities:

Thursday 7/16
That’s right, before the fest even begins there’s some awesome music to catch from some of the artists who show up in Chicago early. Here’s the list of what’s happening:

Friday 7/17

Easily the most jam-packed night of after-fest entertainment, we count at least six shows throughout the city, all worth checking out. In addition to Vic Mensa at Virgin Hotels, here’s what else you can check out on Friday:

Saturday, 7/18
The fun continues on Saturday night, with some more great shows. I highly recommend this first one, although I cannot explain the pairing of Headliner & Opener

Sunday, 7/19
We’ll be plenty busy, running from Lincoln Hall (for How To Dress Well) to the Virgin Hotel Shows, but there’s still MOURN, if that’s more your thing.