Tickets: $65 Single Day / $165 3-Day Passes
It’s finally here. The weekend you’ve all been waiting for … or at least the weekend WE’VE been waiting for: Pitchfork Music Festival will take over Chicago’s Union Park beginning this Friday!
Pitchfork Fest has become a staple to having a good summer if you live in the Midwest, promising amazing live shows, delicious food, and equally as delicious beer. If you’ve never been, you’re in for a treat; if you’ve been before, well then you know the drill.
We’re here to help you sift through the schedule – providing you with our top-10 Can’t Miss Sets, as well as our picks for food & drink, and a quick heads up on some pretty amazing things the festival has to offer.
PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL 2016 – CAN’T MISS SETS
It goes without saying that you’re probably not going to skip out on the main headliners each night. Beach House, Sufjan Stevens and FKA Twigs are likely already penciled in to your personalized schedules (if they’re not, you’re crazy because all three put on spectacular live shows). We’ve also omitted the headlining opener – the last band to play the Red Stage each night. This includes Broken Social Scene (Friday – 7:20PM), Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds (Saturday – 7:25PM), and Miguel (Sunday – 7:25PM). The “under card” acts are what really makes Pitchfork Fest the best every summer, anyways.
Here’s a look at our Top 10 sets we’re most looking forward to this weekend.
10 – Holy Ghost! | Sunday – 4:15PM | Green Stage
These DFA electro-pop wizards are fresh off a new EP, Crime Cutz, released earlier this year and are likely going to take the role of Jamie xx last year: the Sunday act that gets everybody moving and pumped for the night ahead.
9 – Savages | Saturday – 4:15PM – Green Stage
The London-based quartet is fronted by one of the best lead singers in the world, Jehnny Beth. Savages music is stuffed with incredible depth and instrumentation, not to mention just the right amount of emotion for dark post-punk. Their latest album, Adore, is simply remarkable.
Prepare Yourself: “Sad Person” from their latest LP, and “She Will” from their debut album, Silence Yourself
Key Conflicts: A big one (for us, anyways), is Martin Courtney (4:45PM – Blue). The lead singer from Real Estate will provide some easygoing surf/folk music for a Saturday evening.
8 – Jeremih | Sunday – 6:15PM – Green Stage
The singer behind perhaps one of the most over-played songs of 2015 fits in nicely on this list. The “Don’t Tell ‘Em” singer, originally from Chicago, will perform a lively set of tracks off his latest album Late Nights, an album that is actually solid from front to back. “Oui” and “Pass Dat” have been summer night staples in 2016. I expect an incredibly hype show for Jeremih’s Pitchfork homecoming.
Prepare Yourself: Leave “Don’t Tell ‘Em” in its vault (you already know all the words anyways), check out Late Night‘s “Pass Dat” and “Oui”
Key Conflicts: The Hotelier – 5:45PM Blue | Thundercat 6:45PM Blue
7 – Porches | Sunday – 1:45PM | Red Stage
The opener for Sunday’s activities, Porches faces minimal conflicting acts (only one other act), which will play out nicely for the New York-based synth group led by Aaron Maine. We caught the band a couple months back at their latest Chicago stop. Spoiler alert: expect plenty of dry wit and voguing.
Prepare Yourself: “Mood” is one of our favorite tracks of the year, and “Headsgiving” is a setlist-staple. Their latest album Pool has been getting heavy rotation since its release, and is destined for a spot in our top albums of the year list.
Key Conflicts: Sun Ra Arkestra – 1:55PM Blue Stage
6 – Neon Indian | Sunday – 5:15PM | Red Stage
Alan Palomo, also known as Neon Indian, is a veteran of the dance floor – even before Neon Indian’s debut LP was released in 2009, Palomo was making music as VEGA and Ghosthustler (VEGA’s got some JAMS). There are some very significant conflicts on Sunday afternoon, but you’ll find me in the middle of the crowd dancing and sweating.
Prepare Yourself: You probably know Neon Indian’s more chill songs like “Polish Girl” and “Deadbeat Summer” but if you haven’t already, check out some of his luxe new tracks like single “Annie” from VEGA INTL: Nite School.
Key Conflicts: This is a big one, as Empress Of (4:45PM – Blue) and The Hotelier (5:45PM – Blue) both line up in competition with Neon Indian.
5 – Whitney | Friday – 4:15PM | Blue Stage
Whitney is arguably the best thing that came from Smith Westerns split in 2014, and guitarist Max Kakacek and drummer Julian Ehrlich (who also played drums for Unknown Mortal Orchestra) have released quite possibly the best indie album of the summer, Light Upon The Lake. The tracks have some hidden Smith Western riffs, but this is a major departure from the 90s-era tunes that won hearts a few years back. Whitney writes epically beautiful folk summer songs and have garnered universal acclaim from critics. That’s enough to make this show a can’t miss on Friday afternoon.
Prepare Yourself: “No Matter Where We Go” is on a shortlist of indie tracks of the summer, but the title track to Light Upon The Lake is the true hidden gem of the album.
Key Conflicts: Not much, but you’ll have to miss the last 5-10 minutes of Car Seat Headrest’s set to get to the Blue stage to catch the start of Whitney.
4 – Car Seat Headrest | Friday – 3:45PM | Red Stage
Undoubtedly the best “newcomer” in indie rock is Will Toledo’s Car Seat Headrest. Newcomer gets air quotes there, because Toledo has been self-releasing albums for years now, but his latest effort, Teens of Denial, is getting major buzz as one of the best rock albums of the year, and for good reason. Not only is Toledo’s instrumentation incredible, it’s matched by his vocals (which channel Beck and the Pixies’ Black Francis) and unprecedented lyrics and song writing patterns.
The only real question is, with Car Seat Headrest getting so much hype – quite possibly more than any other rock band in the lineup, why book them as the first act in the festival on a Friday afternoon? No matter, we won’t be missing it.
Prepare Yourself: “Drunk Drivers / Killer Whales” is without a doubt a near-perfect rock song.
Key Conflicts: None. Whitney starts as CSH finishes their set, but being the first band to play Pitchfork Fest has its benefits and there’s no reason to miss it. Unless you have a job, or whatever.
3 – Anderson .Paak | Saturday – 7:45PM | Blue Stage
This might go down as the underdog of the festival, which seems impossible for someone like Anderson .Paak, who has received acclaim across the hip-hop communities for his live shows. His latest album, Malibu, features some fascinating songs, and the addition of The Free Nationals on Saturday will likely only bolster their power live. Every year the Blue Stage sees a handful of overly packed crowds and I expect Anderson .Paak to be the busiest of them all.
Prepare Yourself: “The Waters” features fellow Pitchfork performer BJ The Chicago Kid, and “Am I Wrong (feat. ScHoolboy Q)” should get you primed for the groove that will be felt Saturday night.
Key Conflicts: The biggest of the weekend: Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds. This might be the most brutal conflict of the year, and is up there with last year’s How To Dress Well vs. Courtney Barnett nightmare. Ugh. No matter what, you can’t go wrong here.
2 – Twin Peaks | Friday – 5:30PM | Red Stage
Two years ago, it was Twin Peaks early afternoon set at Pitchfork that made me absolutely fall in love with the Chicago-based punks. The best part of that set was the guys’ sheer excitement to be playing such a big stage, seeing their faces on the giant screens to the left and right of them. Now, the band have Down In Heaven, an incredible new album under their belt. While Wild Onion was good, Down In Heaven provides the group with some amazing new songs to crank out on Friday. I just can’t wait for Cadien Lake James’ vigorous head shaking.
Prepare Yourself: “Wanted You” channels The Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup” and “Holding Roses” is one of the very best songs of the year.
Key Conflicts: Moses Sumney (5:15PM – Blue). Sumney has a killer voice showcased in a key verse in the Hundred Waters remix of “Show Me Love”.
1 – Blood Orange | Saturday – 5:15PM | Red Stage
Dev Hynes, who releases music as Blood Orange, and performs at an incredibly high level, showcasing his smooth voice and impressive guitar work. His songs channel classic soul and R&B, jazz, hip-hop, pop, and more, and Blood Orange albums always find themselves within Hynes’ own context. Cupid Deluxe, released in 2013, was written for and about New York City, where Hynes’ primarily resides. A few weeks ago, Blood Orange’s third album Freetown Sound was released, and at the time of release Hynes stated the album was intended for anyone who has ever been told they were “not black enough, too black, Too queer, not queer the right way.”
With the resounding message behind Freetown Sound and the overall culture of America right now following the recent events in Orlando, the (very) public executions of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the public hanging in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Dev Hynes’ performance will bear a heavy weight and the songs will be likely enough to bring me to tears.
Prepare Yourself: Freetown Sound is an incredibly powerful album, check out standout tracks “Best To You”, “Better Than Me”, and “Augustine”. If you’re new to Blood Orange, check out “No Right Thing” from Cupid Deluxe and “Sutphin Boulevard” from the debut album Coastal Grooves.
Key Conflicts: It doesn’t matter. Go see Blood Orange.
Pitchfork Fest isn’t all about the music, there’s also a ton to do if you ever find yourself with downtime in between acts or maybe after showing up earlier than your first must-see artist. Check out some of the unique features (and our top food spots) worthy of your hard earned money.
Our personal favorite money grabber! The country’s best show-poster artists gather to share their work and sell prints at Flatstock, hosted by the American Poster Institute and Speedball.
Shop for records between sets! CHIRP brings you vinyl selections from indie labels, local record stores, and independent vendors.
Sellers often dig out rarecatalogue items for the event. Plus, buying direct from labels means you save a few pennies by avoiding shipping fees. At my first ever Pitchfork Fest, I scored a purple color record of Prince’s Purple Rain single, so I can attest to the rarities found at CHIRP.
Coterie Chicago is a jury-selected arts & crafts market within Pitchfork Music Festival 2016.
The works of 40 artists, makers and creative service providers will be featured during the three-day event.
Book Fort is a roving, interactive book fair that seeks to make a meaningful contribution to communities through readings, performances, and opportunities to connect with a highly-curated selection of independent publishers, presses, and literary organizations.
Also, be on the lookout for the Voter Engagement and Mobilization Project and if you’re bringing the little ones, stop by the Old Town School of Folk Music Kids area!
Below you’ll find a list of the food vendors (with a few of our favorites in bold). Pitchfork Fest also is sponsored by Goose Island to be the primary beer vendor. While you’d think this means inflated prices for better beer, it actually doesn’t: Most beers run cheaper than your typical festival beer, and as an added bonus you’re getting a much more delicious brew. Check out the limited tent, which serves a rotating selection of extra delicious beers. Every year, Goose Island collaborates with an artist at the festival to develop a special, limited edition microbrew. This year Goose Island has paired with Twin Peaks to create Natural Villain, a lager inspired by some of their favorite beers (Pacifico, Modelo, Sol).
Pro Tip: Pitchfork Fest utilizes a ticket tent which forces you to purchase tickets, and then use those tickets to pay for beer. Yes, it sucks, but it prevents underage patrons for getting too “hyphy.” We suggest getting there early on any given day and hitting the ticket tents up right away, the lines can get long at peak times.
Food Vendors at Pitchfork Fest 2016
Dias de Los Tamales
DönerMen Food Truck
For more information including prohibited carry ins, locker rentals, festival map, tickets, and more, check out Pitchfork Music Festival’s official website.
Happy Festing everyone! We’ll see you in Union Park! Don’t forget to follow along on our Instagram for up-to-the-minute photos and updates from our favorite artists!