When thinking about the best musical festivals in Chicago, Lollapalooza is what typically comes to mind. However, the Pitchfork Music Festival has changed many music lovers’ minds over the past few years. While Pitchfork is much smaller than the massive Lollapalooza, the festival has continued to get some of the biggest and best names in music to perform for almost a decade.
This year’s ninth annual Pitchfork Festival runs July 18-20 at Union Park. 3-day passes to the festival are sold out, but there are a limited number of single day passes available on Pitchfork’s website.
One of the biggest names in hip-hop is set to headline Pitchfork’s final night. Kendrick Lamar will play yet another Chicago festival following his 2012 Pitchfork set and 2013 Lollapalooza set. Lamar is reportedly working on his follow up album to good kid, m.A.A.d city, an album that has sold more than one million copies to date. This may make a good opportunity for Lamar to show off what he’s working on and remind us why he is one of hip-hop’s best MCs. His set is worth attending regardless of if Lamar decides to drop any new music. Lamar’s complex lyrics and polished flow sound just as good, if not better, live than the recordings of his songs. The possibility of Kendrick bringing out a guest performer is high with fellow Black Hippy member Schoolboy Q and fellow T.D.E. member Isaiah Rashad both slated to perform on Sunday, too.
This year’s Pitchfork lineup is also packed with great performers like Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, St. Vincent, Real Estate, Jon Hopkins and much more. Here’s a schedule of the bands worth checking out this year.
Friday, July 18
Slasher Flicks : Blue Stage – 7:15 p.m.
Beck : Green Stage – 8:30 p.m.
Beck released his first album in 1993. Since then, the 44-year-old musician has experimented with just about every sound imaginable and is always pushing the boundaries of what music can sound like. Now he is touring in support of his 12th studio album, Morning Phase, which was released earlier this year. Beck’s performance is sure to entertain, as he plays some of the brilliant music he has made over the past 21 years.
Saturday, July 19
Twin Peaks : Green Stage – 1 p.m.
The up-and-coming chicago natives plays quick, punchy tunes which mix sounds of punk and garage-rock. According to Twin Peaks’ frontman, Cadian James, the band is stoked to perform at Pitchfork.
“I remember watching Deerhunter [at Pitchfork] and thinking, ‘I would love to [perform here.]’ It’s crazy now that a couple years have gone by and we’re actually doing it,” James said in an interview with the PHOENIX. The band is set to release their new album Wild Onion later this year.
“Chicago shows tend to get pretty wild because more people know who we are,” he said, “but we try to prepare for all shows the same whether we’re playing for five people or 500 people. We just try to get people dancing and shaking their butts and shit.”
Pusha T : Green Stage – 4:15 p.m.
Hip-hop veteran Pusha T, a member of the hip-hop duo Clipse, ventured off as a solo artist in 2010. Now signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music, the 37-year-old rapper has received praise for his most recent album, My Name Is My Name.
tUnE-yArDs : Red Stage – 5:15 p.m.
The funky indie-duo, tUnE-yArDs plays unique music. Led by Merrill Garbus, the group incorporates synthesizers with traditional folk song structures. Garbus lyrics are clever and weird at the same time. She provides both lead and back-up vocals by looping her voice on stage before singing her lyrics.
Danny Brown : Green Stage – 6:15 p.m.
Danny Brown is one wild individual. If you don’t believe me, go to his. set and see for yourself. His charismatic personality, unique delivery and comical lyrics make him one of the most entertaining artists in modern hip-hop. Last year, Brown brought Chicago rapper SD out to perform “New World Order” at the North Coast Music Festival. So don’t be shocked if he brings out another surprise guest this year.
Neutral Milk Hotel : Green Stage – 8:30 p.m.
The eccentric Neutral Milk Hotel will headline the Green Stage Saturday night. The lo-fi indie group formed in 1989 and played together until 1999. Neutral Milk Hotel started touring again last year, performing songs from their classic albums like their 1998 gem In the Aeroplane Over the Sea; the last album the band released.
Sunday, July 20
Speedy Ortiz : Blue Stage – 1 p.m.
The indie-rock group Speedy Ortiz is excited to attend Pitchfork this year. The band’s sound dazzles listeners with their electrifying guitars, while vocalist/guitarist Sadie Dupius lyrics are cleverly placed over the music. One of Speedy Ortiz’s favorite artist is Chicago native Wesley Willis. The band tells the PHOENIX they will close the set by saying, “rock over London, rock on Chicago!” in honor of Willis.
DIIV : Red Stage – 1:45 p.m.
Following Speedy Ortiz’s set, head over to the Red Stage to see indie-rock band DIIV. The Brooklyn-based band’s deep guitar riffs and beachy sound are complemented by Zachary Cole Smith’s calming voice.
Isaiah Rashad : Blue Stage – 2:50 p.m.
2014 XXL Freshman and T.D.E. member Isaiah Rashad is worth checking out. The rising rapper from Chattanooga, Tennessee smoothly delivers introspective verses over southern-style soul piano instrumentals. Rashad’s critically acclaimed debut Cilvia Demos was named as one of 2014’s best albums so far by Spin Magazine.
Earl Sweatshirt : Red Stage – 3:20 p.m.
After Isaiah Rashad, hustle over to the Red Stage to see Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt. Earl missed Odd Future’s 2011 wild and controversial Pitchfork set because he was away at reform school in Samoa, so the 20-year old rapper will make his Pitchfork debut this year. Earl’s extensive vocabulary and unique delivery makes him one of the best upcoming lyricists in hip-hop today.
Schoolboy Q : Green Stage – 4:15 p.m.
Schoolboy Q will return to Pitchfork for the first time since performing at the festival in 2012. The bucket hat-wearing rapper will have the crowd jumping during his set. Schoolboy Q, a member of the hip-hop supergroup Black Hippy, is sure to play an energetic set filled with hits like, “Break the Bank,” “There He Go” and “Collard Greens.”
There are other shows worth checking out that didn’t make this list, you can view the entire lineup and schedule at pitchforkmusicfestival.com.