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 (ten, to be exact).
Here’s our list of the top seven artists we can’t wait to see on DAY TWO, Saturday, July 18, another fantastic day of music. The gates open at 12PM on Saturday and Sunday, so the good times start early. Remember to pace yourself, check out the bonus areas of Pitchfork (detailed in part one of our Festival Preview) and don’t be afraid to broaden your musical horizons. Getting there early can pay off in finding that new favorite artist you’ve never heard of. We highlight a couple of those potential new faves, as well as some no-brainers. As always, you can also listen to our Spotify Playlist for Day Two, found at the end of this list.
#7 Bully | 1:55PM | Blue Stage
We last saw Bully in May, shortly before the Alicia Borgiano-led group released their debut album, Feels Like. The show was exactly what you’d expect if you listen to Borgiano’s music: in your face and charming all at the same time. Borgiano’s smile occasional smirk and banter combined well with her Courtney Love-like-howl. Audiences have had time to absorb the greatness held within Feels Like, and we’re hoping that the area surrounding the Blue stage on Saturday afternoon is packed with people ready to let loose to Bully’s grunge.
#6 Parquet Courts | 5:15PM | Red Stage
I initially had Kurt Vile penciled in for this number 6 slot, but in a last minute decision, Parquet Courts swooped in to take the spot. The reason? I imagined myself on a hot Saturday afternoon in the middle of a park comprised of baseball diamonds and shaded trees, and realized that I’ll more than likely be itching for some high-energy, fast-paced punk music. I’ve also seen both artists before, and Parquet Courts win the head-to-head, hands down.
Last year’s Sunbathing Animal was an incredible display of punk, and whether the songs were fast or slow, it never seemed like a poor decision. Their live settings bring that energy to a stage, and don’t be surprised if you see a bloody lip leaving the pit after Parquet Courts finishes up on Saturday.
#5 Vince Staples | 3:45PM | Blue Stage
For us, Saturday is all about hip-hop, despite the Sunday lineup housing the two biggest names in hip-hop performing at Pitchfork Music Festival that weekend. It all starts with Vince Staples on Saturday afternoon. Staples just released his debut full-length album, Summertime ’06, to rave reviews including being named Best New Music by Pitchfork. The album centers around Staples’ “lost youth” in the summer of 2006, which he discussed when announcing the album art on Instagram. The album features some amazing production from Clams Casino and No I.D., and its coming of age storyline combine with this production to form not only one of the best hip-hop albums in recent memory, but also one of the best albums period. There’s no way we’re missing Vince Staples on Saturday afternoon.
#4 A$AP Ferg | 5:45PM | Blue Stage
The hip-hop continues on Saturday with none other than the Trap Lord himself. One of the most entertaining members of the A$AP crew, Ferg is also one of the most energetic figures in hip-hop. His recent video for “Dope Walk” featured cameos by some of the most famous people in the music and fashion industries, including Cara Delevingne, Jeremy Scott, Kanye West and more. Ferg’s shows are known to be incredibly rowdy, and based off of Danny Brown’s Pitchfork set last year, Pitchfork Fest crowds know how to party, and we don’t expect A$AP Ferg’s set will be much different.
Shamir Bailey is one of the fastest up-and-coming musicians in the indie dance scene; his voice resembles the countertenor of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, his backing beats are a unique blend of old school funk, R&B, disco, and even house influences, and his lyrics are simultaneously poppy and provacative. The hype surrounding Shamir in 2015 is unrivaled, and for good reason. Shamir has sat down to interview Mac DeMarco, runs his own love advice hotline, and is gaining an incredible amount of critical acclaim with his debut LP, Ratchet, released in May of this year via XL.
Not bad for only 20 years old.
Looking at this list, the Blue Stage is shaping up to be one of the best party atmosphere’s all weekend, with some of the most hype artists performing the Blue Stage throughout the day. Chicago’s very own Vic Mensa will close out the stage, going up against Saturday’s headliner Sleater-Kinney, who play the Green Stage at 8:30PM. Be on the lookout for longtime collaborator and Sunday’s headlining act Chance The Rapper to either appear on stage, or at least be enjoying it from the side.
We’re still waiting on Mensa’s debut album, Traffic, which we’re hoping will be released soon, as promised. I’m also holding my breath, hoping to hear Kanye West’s “Wolves” at some point on Saturday night; Kanye and Mensa are also frequent collaborators, with West taking a newfound affection to the Roc Nation artist. Watch out for me when “U Mad” starts, one of my summer anthems this year – I know all the words to Kanye’s verse, so if Yeezy doesn’t show up, I’m ready to fill in.
#1 Future Islands | 7:25PM | Red Stage
Future Islands will play the sought-after Red Stage set on Saturday, directly before the night’s headliner, Sleater-Kinney. These sets are typically some of the best of the weekend, with last year’s Grimes, Giorgio Moroder, and St. Vincent all playing the stage in the “opening” slot. We expect nothing but the best from Sam Herring and company that night, and here’s why:
We saw Future Islands a total of four separate times last year, more than any other artist. All Letterman-love aside, the Baltimore-based synthrock group is well worth all of the hype they’ve received in the last year-plus. The band is one of the hardest working bands in the business today, with a rigorous non-stop touring schedule that has taken them to all corners of the globe. It’s incredibly difficult to not be happy for Future Islands, who have been together for almost ten years, and give their everything for any show they perform. Herring’s dance moves are mesmerizing and have taken the world by storm, but what’s even more impressive is his “heart-on-sleeve” demeanor and contagious smile.
Future Islands are fast approaching their 1000th live show in their ten-year existence. Their set at Pitchfork Music Festival will be their 998th. The fact that the band is cataloging this is remarkable, and makes every show feel like a limited edition collectable. Don’t miss out on a piece of Future Islands history.
Also playing Saturday: Jimmy Whispers (1:00PM – Green Stage), Protomartyr (1:45PM – Red Stage), Future Brown (2:30PM – Green Stage), Mr. Twin Sister (2:50PM – Blue Stage), Ex Hex (3:20PM – Red Stage), Kurt Vile (4:15PM – Green Stage), Ariel Pink (4:45PM – Blue Stage), The New Pornographers (6:15PM – Green Stage), SOPHIE (7:45PM – Blue Stage), Sleater-Kinney (8:30PM – Green Stage)