By Alexis Smith
July 19, 2018
Pitchfork Music Festival is undoubtedly one of the most “chill” festivals for indie music fans in the country. They celebrate their 13th year this week returning to Union Park, Chicago IL. Music enthusiasts swarm the park from all over the country to see a variety of big names and up-and-coming acts curated by the well-respected online music publication.
Not only an affordable festival, it also houses tons of local vendors and supports RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) to raise awareness and funds to support the fight against sexual violence.
The vibe at Pitchfork is comfortable, intimate, and it attracts a diverse audience and age-range. You’ll find attendees lounging in the grass between sets, observing the faint view of Chicago’s skyline in the distance. Artists such as LCD Soundsystem, St. Vincent, Bjork, Kendrick Lamar, and Modest Mouse have graced the stages at Pitchfork Music Festival in the past. Maintaining their reputation of selecting some of the top indie acts and rising stars, this year’s festival features a pair of Aussie heavyweights in Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett. In addition, The War on Drugs, Lauryn Hill, Fleet Foxes, and the legendary Chaka Khan will be blessing the stages at Pitchfork Music Festival this year.
Here are some more acts we’re really excited to see at Pitchfork Music Festival 2018:
Mount Kimbie – Friday, 7:45 p.m., Blue Stage
Consisting of Dom Maker and Kai Campos, Mount Kimbie was credited as “dubstep innovators” in their early career. The duo met at Southbank University in London and began experimenting in a home studio shortly after. They released their debut album Crooks & Lovers in 2010, which was widely acclaimed. Their influence in the US began in 2011 after appearing at SXSW and Coachella and they’ve gained even more notoriety after recently collaborating with big names such as James Blake and King Krule. Their third studio album Love What Survives explores the early traditions of experimental electronic dance music with a slightly hazier and airy feel to it. The album takes you through an odd daydream with a synth-heavy ambience all the way to some intense grungy bass lines.
Japanese Breakfast – Sunday, 4:00 p.m. at the Blue Stage
Japanese Breakfast is the solo musical project of Michelle Zauner, once a member of Little Big League, an indie rock band out of Philadelphia. Zauner’s spacey instrumentals and voice are the focal point of Japanese Breakfast, but the lyrics are a close second; touching on such topics as sex, death, and survival as a woman. With super catchy guitar riffs and a sensual shoegazy tone, Japanese Breakfast makes complex music seem easy to listen to. Zauner released her first studio album Psychopomp in 2016 which has been described as dark and heavy-handed dream pop. Her second studio album Soft Sounds from Another Planet was released only a little over a year later to extraordinary reception.
Noname – Sunday, 5:15 p.m. at the Red Stage
At the ripe age of 26, Noname is already making headway in the indie rap scene. This young punchy rapper made her debut through an appearance on the track “Lost” from Chance the Rapper’s first studio album Acid Rap when she was only 21. She got her start in slam poetry as a teenager and has made a seamless transition into the popular R&B/Rap genre. Having grown up in Bronzeville, Chicago, Noname should feel right at home performing in her backyard. Having released her debut mixtape Telefone in July of 2016, she recently announced a new project “Room 25” will be coming soon. The Pitchfork stage might be an ideal place to drop the date on the much-antipated new album.
Kelela – Saturday, 7:45 p.m. at the Blue Stage
Kelela, an Ethiopian American singer-songwriter originally from the DMV, creates sensual and rhythmic R&B tunes that you can’t help but mellow out to. Her voice is fluttery and soft, but when layered over her dark and futuristic beats, it makes for a super unique sound. Kelela released her debut studio album, Take Me Apart in 2017 and has been gaining international recognition on the festival circuit. She performed at Pitchfork in 2014 so it will be exciting to see the growth of such an exquisitely unique artist.
Blood Orange – Saturday, 6:15 p.m. at the Green Stage
Devonte Hynes has been involved in several projects, including punk band Test Icicles and indie rock outfit Lightspeed Champion. It wasn’t until 2009 that his solo project Blood Orange was born, featuring performances with just him and his trusty laptop. Focusing more on a dancey R&B style, Blood Orange released his first debut album Coastal Grooves in 2011. It wasn’t until his second album, Cupid Deluxe that he really broke out– the sound was empathetic, mysterious, and well-crafted. His latest album Freetown Sound released in 2016 received a warm reception from both critics and fans. He recently shared news of his new album “Negro Swan” being released in August, so his third appearance at Pitchfork should be one you shouldn’t miss.
Moses Sumney – Saturday, 4:15 p.m. at the Green Stage
Moses Sumney uses his vocal power as his prime instrument, performing solo with an intense arrangement of synths and complex soundboards. He loops strange audible sounds and fleshes out each song with several layers. Sumney got his acclaim opening up for artist like Erykah Badu, Sufjan Stevens, Solange, and James Blake. He released his first full-length studio album Aromanticism in 2017 featuring heart-wrenching songs about love and modern relationships. Acclaimed by Rolling Stone, The Guardian, and New York Times, who named it one of the best albums of 2017, Sumney is an extremely intimate and captivating performer, sure to leave you in awe.
Julien Baker – Friday, 5:15 p.m. at the Blue Stage
A Memphis native, Baker follows the somber rock recipe of tear-jerking songs that will hit you square in the soul. She started her career playing with the band Forrister while still in college before venturing into solo projects. Her debut solo album, Sprained Ankle was released in 2015, when she was only 19 years old. Her tunes are described as “emotively cathartic” and are quite deep despite her age. She has an interesting background, identifying as both queer and a Christian, which has surely helped to shake her unique artistic identity. Her second studio album Turn Out the Lights is equally as intimate, but more instrumentally developed.
Smino – Sunday, 4:15 p.m. at the Green Stage
Smino comes from a musical family, with a father that plays keys, a mother who sings, and a grandfather who played bass for the legendary blues musician, Muddy Waters. The St. Louis native is familiar with the Windy City where he attended Columbia College Chicago when his music career started to flourish. Smino appeared on the aforementioned Noname’s album Telefone, and has collaborated with singer Ravyn Lenae (also performing at Pitchfork this year) to form the Zero Fatigue crew. Smino is one of the Chicago areas most notable emerging artists, and has proved his musical prowess by creating original, thoughtful and melodic raps.