Pitchfork Music Festival — where the online publication meets full-blown summertime event. I have to hand it to Pitchfork; every summer since 2006, the fest has dished out the best of the lesser-known acts to Chicago’s Union Park. Typically, the bands that take its stages are those that have received the highly-coveted acclaim of “Best New Music” from the festival’s namesake. Despite the ethos and some attendees that sort of drive the fest — which, admittedly, can be drenched in pretension — it does book some of the most intriguing acts around, boasting an only-seen-here distinction. If the crowd that attends isn’t your thing, it might be worth dealing with it for the price: a three-day pass is only $130 (CHEAP!), or $60 for single-day tickets, running July 18-20. Below you’ll find my five picks of what to see at Pitchfork, most of which you’ll be hard-pressed to see anywhere else in a festival format this summer.
1. Giorgio Moroder (July 18)
The track “Giorgio by Moroder” on Daft Punk’s Grammy-winning hit album “Random Access Memories” encompasses, in a nutshell, the story of synth-god Giorgio Moroder. Which is super neat, given the man’s 40-plus years of a career is now being acknowledged by younger, modern-day audiences. I’m sure this nod from Daft Punk might contribute to Pitchfork’s reasoning behind bringing him to Chicago this summer. Moroder was, and might very well still be, the sound of the future; without much in the way of full-length albums under his belt in the last 20 years or so, the Pitchfork set might see him dabbling with his candy-like synth hooks from his electronic onset. Talk about getting chills in the summer time.
2. Sun Kil Moon (July 18)
For the Sun Kil Moon show, largely the downtrodden, melancholic singer-songwriter project of Mark Kozelek, I would bring a box of tissues and a shoulder on which to lean. Over the course of his February release “Benji,” we find Kozelek coming to terms with a lot — well, mostly death, but the stories that unfold are not just those of mom and dad reaching the end. It’s friends, teenagers and even kids that are passing away (really sad s—, to say the least.) All of this is expressed with thick chordal structure and opulent texture to truly squeeze listeners’ hearts.
3. Death Grips (July 18)
This is going to rule … if they show up. Publicity stunt or not, Death Grips’ decision to not show up to multiple shows where they were booked in 2013 raised many an eyebrow. If the punk-hip-hop trio of Stefan Burnett (MC Ride), Zach Hill and Andy Morin (Flatlander) make it to Pitchfork, though, I know all will break loose, so be sure to get a good footing as the shows tend to incite at least a half-dozen monstrous circle pits. Ought to be a grand sight.
4. Twin Peaks (July 19)
This Replacements-style crew breaches a space between dazed and settled, letting you float along, but with hooks to keep you in place with the songs. Pitchfork’s right in the neighborhood for this dream-pop/indie-rock/straight-up rock ‘n’ roll bunch and might be the best band with which to start your Saturday.
5. Empress Of (July 19)
Empress Of is the name Brooklynite Lorely Rodriguez takes on when she plays her peculiar, whimsical dance/pop music. I prefer it when she pulls back a bit and lets the texture remain airy and dreamy, as she does on “Don’t Tell Me,” allowing her voice to simply flutter on top of it all. Nonetheless, even though Rodriguez’s tunes appear to be much more outgoing nowadays, Empress Of is just a swell touch on the Pitchfork lineup.