Must-See Acts at Pitchfork
Photo Credit: Pitchfork
Nothing less than a music lover’s dream come true, Pitchfork Music Festival has some of the best in the genre of indie, rap, and R&B. In case you didn’t know, this year’s fest is headlined by Ms. Lauryn Hill, Tame Impala, and Fleet Foxes. These are only three out of the many diversely talented acts scheduled this weekend, so here are 8 must-see acts who may just turn out to have the best performances at the festival.
Day 1 – Friday, July 20
Julie Byrne – 2:45-3:30 – Blue Stage
Nomadic, folk singer songwriter Julie Byrne will be kicking the fest off on Friday at the Blue Stage. Originally from Buffalo, New York, she began playing music in tribute to her father who was a wedding singer but had to stop playing due to complications with MS. Her music, composed of enchanting guitar strums with soft, poetic lyrics, feels ethereal and reassuring. She released her second studio album, Not Even Happiness, in 2017 to critical acclaim after her 2014 release of Rooms With Walls and Windows. Her sound is familiar, but no less special, and fans have likened her to a brunette Joni Mitchell. Byrne’s performance will likely feel like a still point in the turning Pitchfork world.
Tierra Whack – 4:15-5:10 – Green Stage
It was announced just Monday that Tierra Whack is to replace Earl Sweatshirt at the Green Stage. Earl Sweatshirt’s performance has been long-awaited, but it is no loss to have Tierra Whack perform instead. She is currently Ms. Lauryn Hill’s opening act for her tour surrounding the anniversary of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Whack’s recent album, Whack World, is only 15 minutes long and encompasses a whole world in each one-minute song. Every song has a unique sound that it truly is difficult the classify the album as a single genre. Her wordplay is so clever whether it’s regarding the meaning of monetary success or even her dog. My favorite is “Fruit Salad”, a proclamation of self-definition and the importance of eating your veggies. After watching the album’s visual presentation, I’m curious to see if she’ll bring any of these personas to Pitchfork.
Julien Baker – 5:15-6:00 – Blue Stage
Hailing from Memphis, indie rock singer Julien Baker will be performing at the Blue Stage on Friday (for what I predict will be a very emotional day). Her sound is cathartic and thoughtful, and each song lingers a little longer to tug on your heart strings. Baker is dynamic as a songwriter and writes to openly deal with mental illness and substance abuse. I was surprised to find that Julien Baker is a member of alternative rock band, Forrister, because her solo act is so dynamic! Her music makes you want to invest in yourself, your feelings, and fears without shame.
Big Thief 6:30-7:15 Blue Stage
Indie rock favorite, Big Thief, will perform on Day 1 of Pitchfork at the Blue Stage. Big Thief released their sophomore album, Capacity, in June 2017 after Masterpiece in 2016. Many of their song titles are names making the listener believe that these people are real and the relationships with them are embodied in these songs. In actuality, Adrianne Lenker, the lead singer and songwriter, often writes the songs about herself and the relationship she has with herself. Expansive and warm, expect Big Thief to have a grounding and groundbreaking performance at the fest.
Day 2 – Saturday, July 21
Nilüfer Yanya – 3:20-4:10 – Red Stage
I first played “Baby Luv” by Nilüfer Yanya because of the cover art. With white squares on the border, lilac tiles spread out into a square with random spots spelling out “BABY LUV.” It looks like candy wrappers over a game of Scrabble and has a nostalgic and home-made feel. These two moods are how I’d best describe the R&B pop style of the 22-year old West Londoner. Yanya grew up with artist parents in a house listening to Amy Winehouse and The Strokes, which you can definitely hear the influences of in her music. Nilüfer Yanya has been one to watch ever since the 2016 release of her first single, “Small Crimes.” Her sound in “Baby Luv” evokes a slightly goth, ’90s pop soundtrack as she chants “again, again, again, again”, after asking do you like pain? Expect only the continual rise of Nilüfer Yanya after she performs at Pitchfork this Saturday.
Day 3 – Sunday, July 22
Ravyn Lenae – 3:20-4:10 – Red Stage
Ravyn Lenae, Chicago native, will be performing at the Red Stage on Sunday. The prolific 19-year old R&B singer songwriter released her first two EPs, Moon Shoes and Midnight Moonlight, in 2016 and 2017 which were produced by Monte Booker. She was also featured on Noname’s Telefone on the track, “Forever”, and toured with Noname and SZA. You can’t deny Lenae’s abilities to make a track (unless you’re jealous) from her most recent Crush EP in which she creates so many different moods, whether it’s with the high-pitched hoots on “Sticky” or the ascending lilts in “Computer Luv.”
Japanese Breakfast – 4-4:45 – Blue Stage
Ever since the release of Japanese Breakfast’s first album, Psychopomp in 2016, my life has not been the same (case 1 & 2). Honestly, I should write a guide about the life changing magic of Japanese Breakfast because that’s just what her music does. Each song in her discography has so much style and range, that you can lament your unrequited love and also scream about how you’re too good. Just listen to “Boyish” and try not to sing along about how you’re that girl in a tux playing guitar in the middle of the football field. Her performance in Pitchfork will no doubt be emotional, but also very spirited.