Our Picks at This Year's Pitchfork Festival

Pitchfork’s eponymous festival hardly needs an introduction. Since its inception in 2006, the event has brought together acts that would entertain even the most discerning among the site’s readership. This year, the three-day festival held in Union Park, Chicago, will feature tremendous headliners LCD Soundsystem, A Tribe Called Quest, and Solange, as well as PJ Harvey, Vince Staples and George Clinton & Parliament, to name a few. The festival promises to provide good times all around—and here are the bands we’re especially excited to see.


LCD Soundsystem

When a band announces they’re disbanding, you never fully want to believe it. Like a breakup you didn’t see coming, you’re left feeling rattled and crestfallen for the times that would never again be had. That, at least, was my state of mind when James Murphy declared the end of LCD Soundsystem in 2011. I kicked myself for having missed their last show in Montreal at Metropolis in 2010, having to settle, instead, for watching their epic Madison Square Garden farewell concert by way of screen in Shut Up and Play The Hits. After the split, Murphy remained active in the music scene, continuing to DJ, produce tracks, and release remixes. Rumours of a reunion came and went, and just when I accepted that LCD would be relegated to oughts nostalgia, Murphy reveals that the band would, in fact, be getting back together to work on a new record. The recently released tracks “Call the Police” and “American Dream” still take on the the band’s blend of anthemic pastiche and lyrical disenchantment, perfectly picking up where “This is Happening” left off. The anticipation for this tour is strong, and this time I won’t be left out of the fun. (AF)


Nicolas Jaar

Last year’s Sirens encompassed just about everything I love about contemporary music. Nicolas Jaar’s ability to weave disparate elements from genres like drum and bass, reggaeton, jazz, krautrock, and electro-acoustic experimentalism, into a cohesive whole that feels both intimate and lavish, is unparalleled. I’ve followed his career closely—from the seminal Space is Only Noise and the multifarious EPs that followed, to the magnificently alien and bluesy world he and guitarist David Harrington stitched together on Psychic; I’ve listened to just about every mix available on his Other People label’s SoundCloud, including that eerily sublime moment where he became Angelo Badalamenti’s ghost collaborator on “Laura Palmer’s Theme.” Can his live performances do justice to the intricate and meticulous ambience he creates? His musical environments, even when bound together by the rhythms and bass swells of house music, feel like an experience best left to the space between headphones. Scepticism aside, I’m eager to hear how this prolific producer adapts his music to the festival setting. (MC)



Over the last decade, the explosion of bands experimenting with the whirring and ephemeral embrace of shoegaze has resulted in some of my favourite reunion records to date—MBV, Slowdive, and Lush’s Blind Spot, to name a few.

27 years following their last output, Ride released Weather Diaries on Wichita Recordings. Though I find myself veering towards the qualities of shoegaze that gave us the experimental noise records of artists like Fennesz and Tim Hecker, I have a soft spot for the jangly guitars and harmonized vocals typical of Britrock that distinguished Ride from the genre’s other forerunners. I should mention that Weather Diaries remains on my list of albums to hesitantly drop $40 on, but like every good music elitist, I’ve held off on streaming the album until its off-white embossed LP is in my hands. I’m hoping that, until then, the live performance at Pitchfork Festival re-affirms my future purchase. (MC)



I can’t think of a better way to close the festival than with a performance by Solange. Her 2016 release, A Seat at the Table, not only established itself as one of the best (and amongst my favourite) albums of the year, but also as a significant piece of political art, centered on race and womanhood and seamlessly blending the personal with the universal. It’s no surprise, then, that she will not be doing a traditional tour for the record. Instead, Solange will be putting on select performances at museums and festivals. I remain transfixed by her music and artistry, and my anticipation to see her live has only got stronger after reading about her recent momentous performance at New York’s Guggenheim. As racism and sexism persist inside the industry and out, Solange’s creative force, imbued with truth and empowerment, is crucial. I can’t wait to see her take down the festival. (AF)