July 17-19 / Union Park, Chicago / Single Day Tickets ($65) Available here
With Pitchfork Music Festival right around the corner, we’re rolling out the twenty artists who are on our “Watch List.” Sure, the headliners are great this year, and we’ll surely be checking out Wilco, Sleater-Kinney and Chance The Rapper, but this list is dedicated to the undercard. After all, it’s the undercard that has made Pitchfork Fest so great, for so many years (10, to be exact).
Here’s our list of the top six artists we can’t wait to see on DAY ONE, Friday, July 17. There are plenty of conflicts within the schedule here (more than any other day, as far as we’re concerned), but we’re going to provide a case for each artist anyways. You can also listen to our Spotify Playlist for Day One, as well as specific playlists for each day that weekend.
From there, you’re on your own.
#6 Tobias Jesso Jr. | 6:15PM | Blue Stage
The Canadian-born indie crooner put out one of the most emotionally involving albums of 2015 with Goon, and with his powerful voice, Tobias could likely find himself winning the opening day of the festival. His performance on Jimmy Fallon earlier this year was eye-opening and provided plenty of people the opportunity to hop on the bandwagon. We hear he dresses fly too, but that’s probably a given being that he was named the face of Saint Laurent’s Music Project last month.
Another Canadian-based group will take the stage exactly two hours after Tobias Jesso Jr. but it’s not who they follow that’s concerning, it’s who they’re up against: Friday night’s headliner Wilco takes the Green Stage at 8:30PM. I’d expect to see plenty of the hipster crowd camping out at the Blue for Ought’s wild performance of a crazy amalgam of genres. Watch the video for Ought’s “New Calm pt. 2” and tell me frontman Tim Beeler Darcy doesn’t remind you of David Byrne and Ian Curtis. The resemblance is almost scary, so we’ll probably be checking out their set just to see if it’s a blatant rip off or a tasteful homage.
#4 CHVRCHES | 7:20PM | Red Stage
I’ll be the first to admit that the luster of CHVRCHES has worn off a bit, and the band certainly has made the most of their shining moment over the last few years. But with this appearance comes my first opportunity to see them live, and although it’s not in an ideal club setting, there does seem to be a good chance for some new music to be performed. Even if there isn’t much new material to be heard, there’s still plenty to be enjoyed with the live renditions of tracks we’ve loved for so long.
Another major debate for us on Friday is whether or not to focus on our love for pop music (CHVRCHES), or our love for Danish post-hardcore/metal (Iceage). What makes it especially tough, is last year’s set from Deafheaven, one that proved to be one of the best of the festival, despite me not knowing much of their music. This time around, I’m actually a huge fan of Iceage’s debut LP, You’re Nothing. This is going to be one of the toughest decisions of the fest this year.
Noah Benjamin Lennox, a.k.a. Panda Bear, is the former co-founding member of Animal Collective. But you probably know that already. He also released one of the best experimental albums of the year earlier this year, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, but you probably know that already too. What we don’t know is what Panda Bear brings to a live performance. This intrigue is leading up to one of the most anticipated sets of the day, and quite possibly the weekend. Panda Bear looks to continue the legacy of the craziness of an Animal Collective show, this time around, supplying music solely of his own creation.
Mac DeMarco is on the cusp of releasing Another One, an EP of love songs that are sure to make their way into his set on Friday night, paired nicely by the classic summery jams DeMarco has made his name with.
This summer marks the third summer in a row I’ve seen Mac DeMarco in a festival in Chicago. The fact that I’ve already seen him twice and am still placing him at the top of this list should say something. That something might be this is the first and only act on Friday that we’ll actually agree on seeing together, but also, I can attest that Mac brings the fun with him on stage, and it’s not all debauchery and jokes (although there are plenty of those elements in supply). DeMarco is an incredible musician and plays his beat up guitar like it’s made out of gold. Give us that pure auditory gold, Mac, give it to us all night long… or at least an hour on Friday evening.