The 7th annual Pitchfork Music Festival returns to Chicago’s Union Park this weekend, July 13–15. Pitchfork Media was originally hired by music promotion company Skyline Chicago to curate the Intonation Festival in 2005. They eventually took over the duties of organizing and running the entire event, launching the inaugural run of the Pitchfork Music Festival. This two day festival drew more than 35,000 attendees to listen to 41 bands.
Since then, the music industry tastemaker continues to attract some of the biggest names in the “indie” music scene each year as well as up-and-coming acts poised to make the big leap to the world’s main stage. The event has been so wildly successful that in 2010, Pitchfork was inspired to create an annual offshoot each fall in Paris. To help celebrate this year’s festival and provide you with some delectable ear candy, Pulp Lab’s staff has put together a playlist of tunes from artists who will be performing in Chicago this weekend that you certainly don’t want to miss.
Kicking things off is Romance, the second 7-inch single release and opening track to all-female supergroup Wild Flag’s self-titled full-length album. The four-piece is made up of Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein on guitar and vocals, fellow S-K bandmate Janet Weiss on the skins, ex-Helium front-woman Mary Timony on second guitar and vocals, and Rebecca Cole of the Minders (Elephant Six affiliates) on keyboards. When Brownstein announced the formation of the outfit via the well-respected blog National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, which she had been a contributor to, the news spread like wildfire across the blogosphere and expectations were high. The band has since delivered with tight, raucously entertaining live performances and a critically-acclaimed LP.
While Wild Flag may pack loving punches with their anthemic hooks and Janet Weiss’ Keith Moon-like ferocity, Ridgewood, New Jersey’s Real Estate makes the often uncomplicated world of suburbia rather extraordinary with their catchy melodies and shoshin-type lyrical lines. The band effortlessly accomplishes what is certainly not a simple task in the hands of less talented musicians. It’s easy to find yourself waxing and waning along with the chorus of infectious “ohs” in It’s Real off Days, the stellar follow-up to their self-titled debut full-length album.
In the age of everyone’s life story can be found on the Internet, there is a growing trend of music artists making a valiant effort to keep their anonymity and letting their music speak for itself. Such was the case with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, the latest project from Portland, Oregon resident by way of Auckland, New Zealand Ruban Nielson (The Mint Chicks). When the extraterrestrial funk groove and breakbeat drums of How Can You Luv Me? first leaked into listeners’ eardrums with the opening, grin-inducing lines “How can you luv me? / When you don’t like me, baby,” it made many indie music lovers ravenous for more material from the mysterious act. Expect to hear a more guitar-driven, psych rock journey from the Portlandian trio’s live performance.
Cloud Nothings is another example of a common occurrence happening in the indie music scene that’s been powered by the Internet. The project is originally the solo effort of Dylan Baldi, who started recording songs under the moniker at the age of 18 on a computer using GargeBand in his parents’ basement. The Cleveland native was asked by New York City promoter / tastemaker Todd Patrick to come to Brooklyn to open for lo-fi heavyweights Woods and Real Estate, which forced Baldi to actually put together a band for live performances. He soon dropped out of college, and signed to Carpark Records as a solo act. The song Cut You appears on his third studio album Attack On Memory, which received the highly-coveted “Best New Music” honor from Pitchfork. The track was later remixed by Baltimore’s Co La, a.k.a. Matthew Papich (Ecstatic Sunshine).
Bushy-haired, baseball cap-wearing Trevor Powers, who performs under the stage name Youth Lagoon, released one of – if not – the most powerful, moving albums of 2011 in The Year of Hibernation. It’s a record that truly deserves to be revisited over and over again. Tracks like Bobby with its hermetic feel and reflective, growing-pains lyrics pull at the heartstrings the way only great music can. Powers also masterfully arranges his compositions making listeners want to turn up the volume at full blast – something most lo-fi artists fail to accomplish.
Danish teenage punk rockers Iceage have managed to inject some much-needed energy into the dreamy, atmospheric landscape of the indie music scene with the release of their debut LP New Brigade. Quick bolts of lightning like You’re Blessed encourage enthusiastic brotherly shoves, carefree crowd-surfing, epic stage dives, and spontaneous mic-grabbing sing-alongs. Oi!
Thee Oh Sees are without a doubt the most prolific recording group that made the cut for our playlist of must-see artists at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival with thirteen LPs, seven EPs, nine 7-inch releases, and appearances on six compilations. They also have a fourteenth album scheduled for release in September, and its first single Lupine Dominus is a way rad piece of psych-rock goodness.
If London’s Hot Chip can’t get you dancing in Chicago, then you really must be too punk or simply just dead inside. No seriously – the indietronic gang’s latest album In Your Head is a welcomed follow-up to the much-beloved One Life Stand. It maintains the playfulness of past works. However, the dark, seven-minute plus grooves of Flutes will surely have the crowd dripping with sweat – even more so than this ridiculous heat wave.
By the way, while you are warmed up in dance mode, hip hop producer AraabMuzik, a.k.a. Abraham Orellana, should provide a nice cool down with the airy Streetz Tonight from his critically-acclaimed debut studio album Electronic Dream. The Dominican / Guatemalan born artist demonstrates exceptional skills at making live beats and using a MPC drum machine, which should be a welcomed change from the many deejays and producer who simply just press the “play” button.
Finally, closing out our Pitchfork Festival 2012 Playlist is the wildly contagious Go Outside by Cults. From its introductory xylophone tinklings to the song’s sing-along-inducing verses, you can’t help but be seduced by this sweet, indie-pop piece of perfection. You know that you love it so no need to feel any shame.
Hope that this playlist gets you psyched up for all the fabulous music that you’ll get a chance to experience live this weekend, and remember to stay hydrated – cheers!
Pitchfork Music Festival: Chicago 2012
Chicago – West Loop