Pitchfork Music Festival is almost here, with one of their most eclectic, forward-looking lineups in years. After a recent schedule planning session, we were struck by how many early afternoon sets were among the most hotly anticipated ones of the day. Sure, Tame Impala and The War on Drugs will be there for you to get all vibed out to, but there’s SO MUCH MORE too. Here are nine (that’s three per day) reasons to peel yourself out of bed and hike over to Union Park in the early afternoon.
Friday, July 20
Lucy Dacus plays at 2:30 p.m.
Lucy Dacus’ sophomore album Historian is an easy candidate for album of the year. A nuanced, eclectic collection of songs anchored around her huge, dynamic vocals, the record is full of incredibly striking moments, sudden tone shifts, and memorable lines. Listen to this album and tell me it’s not gonna absolutely shred live.
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society play at 3:20 p.m.
A longstanding member of Chicago’s boundary-pushing modern jazz scene, Joshua Abrams’ Natural Information Society is responsible for some of the most compelling experiments in minimalist composition in the 21st century. A little drone-y, a little jammy, a little cerebral, and VERY visceral, Natural Information Society gigs are must-see occasions for experimental music fans.
Tierra Whack plays at 4:15 p.m.
With just 15 minutes of material out in the world, Tierra Whack has positioned herself to be one of the brightest new voices in hip hop. Her EP-length multimedia project Whack World was released earlier this summer to near universal acclaim, presenting a fully-formed sonic and visual world across just 15 minutes of music. How will she fill out a full length festival set? Let’s find out together!
Saturday, July 21
Zola Jesus plays at 2:30 p.m.
21st century gothic electro-pop auteur Zola Jesus’ latest album, 2017’s Okovi, is her fifth and arguably her best, an immersive, hook-laden collection of deeply sad bangers. Is there a better way to kick off your Saturday afternoon than by getting your soul rumbled by the booming bass from tracks called “Ash to Bone” and “Exhumed?” No.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith plays at 2:45 p.m.
Watching experimental synth musician Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith at work in a live setting feels like gazing into a weirder, better universe. One where pop musicians work their way through tangles of complicated looking synth gadgets to produce textured, idiosyncratic compositions that never stray too far away from accessibility.
Moses Sumney plays at 4:15 p.m.
Singer-songwriter/friend of Sufjan Stevens Moses Sumney is an extremely compelling presence onstage, performing songs that often double as criticisms of modern romance, monogamy, and co-dependence. What a weird thing, to be treated to such smooth, sweet jams while also considering our place in the world, among our fellow humans.
Sunday, July 22
Kelly Lee Owens plays 2:45 p.m.
Expert crafter of electronic soundscapes and frequent Jenny Hval collaborator Kelly Lee Owens helps usher in the final day of the festival, performing tracks from her insanely good debut album. Another one to file under “I wish everything was this cool.”
Ravyn Lenae plays 3:20 p.m.
Thanks to a steady stream of EPs, Ravyn Lenae has cemented her position as one of the most exciting voices in modern R&B, with an atmospheric, neo-soul-influenced approach to songwriting that helped secure her spots touring with acts like SZA and Noname.
Japanese Breakfast play 4:00 p.m.
Dexterously blending the ever-influential ‘90s indie rock sound with more textural shoegaze ambience, Japanese Breakfast’s 2017 album Soft Sounds from Another Planet was the delivery on the potential hinted at by her debut LP, Psychopomp. Hear cuts from both (very good) albums while basking in the Sunday afternoon sun. It’ll do you good.