Pitchfork Music Festival kicks off Friday, July 19th in Chicago’s Near West Side neighborhood. Union Park has become the home of the three-day festival, with just as many stages hosting performers from all over the world. Bringing together some of the most critically-acclaimed and up-and-coming artists of the past year, this year’s lineup is impressive. Spanning musical genres from lo-fi indie to trap music, the festival’s eclectic artists will make for a wholly unique experience.
While every artist is bound to give an exceptional performance, our team compiled a unique list of standout artists that we are expecting to make the biggest impact on festivalgoers this year.
Clairo has become a standout in the lo-fi indie community at the early age of 20. Already having played Lollapalooza last year and selling out shows in New York City, Clairo’s emotionally charged bedroom pop is gaining serious traction. Presently on tour with Khalid and continuously dropping hit singles, her sophomore album Immunity is set to drop on August 2nd. Pitchfork-goers should expect an exciting set from the young performer, hopefully previewing songs off her upcoming album and the opportunity to see an artist that critics feel will one day be a prominent figure in the indie community.
Soul and rap have always stood adjacent. Few performers have the ability to smoothly integrate poetic lyrics, rap flow, and the heart of soul music like MIKE. The New York City DIY rapper has dropped five albums since June 2017, two of which have been crowned Best New Album by Pitchfork. MIKE’s performance isn’t one to miss next weekend, as it’s rare for him to step outside of Soundcloud and perform at a festival.
CHAI is a Japanese pop-rock group that’s catching the ears of the American music circuit. Coining the term “neo-kawaii,” CHAI has said of their most recent album PUNK that the group wants to embrace their imperfections and display them to the world through their music. Most of the group’s music is sung in Japanese, but the rhythm and energy these women give off is not walled by language. Fans of both pop and rock will have the exclusive opportunity to see this international girl group take the stage this weekend.
This will be Freddie Gibbs’ third year performing at Pitchfork, but that doesn’t mean you should skip his set this time around. Gibbs is hot off the release of Madlib collaboration Bandana, a unique venture into the fight for black freedom. This album is packed with social commentary ranging from the slave trade to recent police bombings. While Gibbs has intertwined justice for the black community into past projects, this is the first full length album to touch on such a wide variety of critical conversations. The way Freddie Gibbs performs on stage depends on location and atmosphere, so there’s no doubt that with the release of Bandana this year’s Pitchfork set will be a Freddie we have yet to witness.
This is the second year in a row Earl Sweatshirt has been scheduled to play Pitchfork. Last summer, however, he cancelled all his shows due to anxiety and depression (and was eventually replaced by Tierra Whack). Alongside MIKE, Earl Sweatshirt doesn’t perform live very often, with only three shows booked for the entire summer. Since his cancellation last year, the L.A based rapper dropped Some Rap Songs, an experimental combination of jazz and hip-hop. If nothing else, festival goers should attend his set for a once in a lifetime opportunity to catch this lyrical genius in person.
Rico Nasty is helping to lead the pack of strong, talented women in trap. Rico’s non-forgiving and harsh flow make her a standout compared to many on this year’s lineup. Attendees should stop by the Maryland rapper’s set to experience her unique and chaotic energy in person before she starts making her way to stadium tours in the next few years.
Charli XCX releases some of the most danceable and fun-loving music out of anyone at Pitchfork this year. The alt-pop quyeen hasn’t made her way out to Chicago in quite some time, so it’s exciting that she’ll be filling one of the festival’s headlining slots. Pitchfork will also be one of Charli’s first stops on her headlining tour promoting her new album Charli.
You can buy tickets to the festival and check out the rest of the lineup here.