Prefix’s Guide to Pitchfork Music Festival 2013: 10 Acts You Don’t Want to Miss


    The Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park in Chicago is now just a week away. Many of you Midwesterners (and other indie music nuts who don’t mind traveling) have already snagged your three-day passes. Those are now sold out, but for the spontaneous-minded, day passes for each of the three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) are still available at $50 a pop. Please visit the festival’s site to purchase and for plenty of other relevant information.

    There are over forty acts performing at the festival this year, but we’re here to highlight the main acts we think you most certainly shouldn’t miss. We exhort you to at least go to part of each of their sets before you go see that other band you like. Some of these acts would cost upwards of 100 bucks to see in any other context, and some rarely perform. Some are guaranteed to unveil plenty of new music, and some will doubtless just deliver stage extravaganzas it would be criminal to miss. All of them are fantastic musicians.

    So, putting aside the vinyl in the merch tent or the vegan burritos that will be readily available and all the other extramusical perks of which you’ll doubtless take advantage, here are the top 10 12 reasons to go to the Pitchfork Music Festival this year.

    10. Sky Ferreira

    If you can’t be appeased by replaying her two kiddie-sized EPs anymore, and if “Everything is Embarassing” is at the top of your, you’ll know that Renaissance woman Sky Ferriera’s set is the place to be at  4:45 on Sunday. You may have been waiting nearly four years for her debut album, which has gone by a handful of different names, to impact. She says it’ll be out by the end of this summer–before she’s old enough to drink–but at this point, you might be skeptical of this claim. So get an unforgettable experience to tide you over, and learn what this long-awaited cycle of “ten uptempo songs, all still pretty electronic” is actually going to sound like ahead of time. Also, Sky’s not a big tourer, and hasn’t appeared at many festivals, so you’ll be getting an experience to which not that many have been privy. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, below is the video for the shoegaze-pop tour-de-force “Everything is Embarassing” and her last music video (from six months ago!) for the Ghost EP’s industrial-tinged “Lost in My Bedroom”:

    9. Andy Stott

    Andy Stott’s avant-techno masterpiece Luxury Problems is one of the great records of 2012 people are still just discovering. Positioned somewhere between the sound of a Kompakt compilation, a Burial record and Steve Reich’s tape music, Luxury Problems (and Stott’s music in general) is transportative and cerebral while remaining danceable. This is sure to be the best laptop show you’ll see this year, and since Stott’s from Manchester, he’s not in the Chi every other month or something. Listen to “Numb” below, as well as a live performance/interview with Andy:

    8a/b. Killer Mike/El-P

    These two hip-hop legends from very different backgrounds (Atlanta’s Zone 6 and Brooklyn) came together this year to release the bone-crushing maximalist urban trap record Run the Jewels, and collaborated extensively on each other excellent solo album (R.A.P. Music and Cancer 4 Cure) in 2012. They are best friends and their musical partnership is one of the best results of the pan-American tendencies of rap music in the aught-teens. They are both known for being dynamic live performers, and will be stopping in Chicago amidst a heavy summer tour schedule. Check out our profile on Run the Jewels here, and “36 Chain” and the video for Killer Mike’s “Big Beast” below:

    7. Julia Holter

    All signs indicate that L.A. experimental singer/songwriter Julia Holter’s upcoming LP Loud City Song (out in August) will be one of the strongest independent releases of this year. Both of her last two albums, 2011’s atmospheric song cycle Tragedy and the expansive baroque-pop masterwork Ekstasis, reached almost every national music publication’s year-end short list. Pitchfork Fest finds Julia several dates into her first world tour, so you can not only expect to see her play plenty of new material, but also to see her at peak performance quality. Below are the videos for two Loud City Song singles: the spare and haunting “World” and the dynamic, sliced-and-diced-future-Court and Spark-y “In the Green Wild.”

    6. Lil B

    This one is a no-brainer, unless you’re a philistine (hater); in this case, the Task Force will be forced to escort you out of the park. This extremely positive and outgoing young man from the Bay Area of California has agreed to perform an extremely #rare show for you, Pitchfork Music Festival. There’s actually know way to know exactly what to expect: whether this will be more a concert or a lecture, how much “cooking” will go on and what percentage of the rapping will be freestyled. The only way to find out is to camp out in front of the Red stage on Sunday afternoon.

                           Drake/Lil B

    5b. Wire

    One of the most seminal post-punk bands in history will be playing a show in Chicago, Illinois that you can attend on a beautiful summer night for only 50 dollars, and you could probably catch three or four other bands that day as well without even trying! 

    5a. Swans
    The Swans show may well be scarier than the preview for The Conjuring.
    Michael Gira

    4. Tree

    Pitchfork was wise enough to recognize that its home city is currently one of the major creative meccas for hip-hop and included some local entertainment on the bill. Tremaine “Tree” Johnson is an extremely gifted MC/producer from the North Side of the city whose 2012 Sunday School mixtape became an unexpected favorite among street hip-hop fans and sample-based production nerds all over the country. Its 2013 sequel, Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out, was even more polished and hook-heavy. Tree’s almost never performed outside of Chicago, and even there he does so infrequently, so get to the park early on Sunday to check his set out. Here are his most recent videos, for two Sunday School II standouts:

    3. Joanna Newsom

    The inimitable singer, harpist and keyboardist hasn’t released a record since all 120 minutes of Have One On Me became available, and admittedly she deserved a break after that. But that was a full three years ago now, so we can doubtless expect Newsom to casually float out some new material- we’ve already seen one or two things on the Internet. But really it could just be anything from any of the albums she’s released, all of which became our new favorite when they each hit shelves, and it would be something that nothing could make us miss, even the tail end of Wire’s set.

    2. R. Kelly

    Whether you’re going to hear Kells deliver his classic ballads, club hits, new Sam Cooke-inspired material, or just to see what this multifarious, prismatic cultural force will be caught wearing, there’s no way this show will disappoint, unless he doesn’t actually show up. 

    1. Björk 

    Björk is usually hard to see for less than your month’s rent. She’s one of the most innovative artists of the last few decades, and one of the greatest female musicians of all time, right behind Ella Fitzgerald, Hildegard von Bingen and the like. It goes without saying that Björk doesn’t do anything without plenty of spectacle, and we can only hope she’ll be playing the instrument she invented for 2011’s severely underrated Biophilia.  The music of the album got lost in the context of all the multimedia accoutrements, but it’ll be  the focus on Friday night. 

    But don’t take my word for it– plan your own schedule, or see if you need to jump on StubHub and scrounge up a full pass. (Rap fans, a quick note: all hip-hop is on Sunday, so if that’s all you care about, just get a ticket for that day!) The set times and locations are below: 

    Friday, July 19:

    Gates at 3 p.m.

    8:30 Björk (GREEN)
    7:20 Joanna Newsom (RED)
    6:25 Wire (GREEN)
    6:15 Mikal Cronin (BLUE)
    5:30 Woods (RED)
    5:15 Angel Olsen (BLUE)
    4:35 Mac DeMarco (GREEN)
    4:15 Trash Talk (BLUE)
    3:30 Daughn Gibson (RED)
    3:20 Frankie Rose (BLUE)

    Saturday, July 20:

    Gates at 12 p.m.

    8:45 Rustie (BLUE)
    8:30 Belle & Sebastian (GREEN)
    7:45 Andy Stott (BLUE)
    7:25 Solange (RED)
    6:45 Low (BLUE)
    6:15 The Breeders play Last Splash (GREEN)
    5:45 Ryan Hemsworth (BLUE)
    5:15 Swans (RED)
    4:45 Metz (BLUE)
    4:15 Savages (GREEN)
    3:45 Merchandise (BLUE)
    3:20 …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (RED)
    2:50 Parquet Courts (BLUE)
    2:30 Phosphorescent (GREEN)
    1:55 Julia Holter (BLUE)
    1:45 Pissed Jeans (RED)
    1:00 KEN mode (BLUE)
    1:00 White Lung (GREEN)

    Sunday, July 21:

    Gates at 12 p.m.

    8:45 TNGHT (BLUE)
    8:30 R. Kelly (GREEN)
    7:45 Glass Candy (BLUE)
    7:25 M.I.A. (RED)
    6:45 Evian Christ (BLUE)
    6:15 Toro Y Moi (GREEN)
    5:45 Chairlift (BLUE)
    5:15 Lil B (RED)
    4:45 Sky Ferreira (BLUE)
    4:15 Yo La Tengo (GREEN)
    3:45 Waxahatchee (BLUE)
    3:20 El-P (RED)
    2:50 Blood Orange (BLUE)
    2:30 Killer Mike (GREEN)
    1:55 Autre Ne Veut (BLUE)
    1:45 Foxygen (RED)
    1:00 DJ Rashad (BLUE)
    1:00 Tree (GREEN)