A Peek into Pitchfork: July 19-21, 2013

This year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, held at Union Park in Chicago on July 19 through 21, features artists who are fresh and relatively new as well as groups that formed many years or even decades ago. An interesting example of such bands is The Breeders who will perform songs from their major album, Last Splash, released in 1993. Pitchfork chose 2013 headliners that are known and currently relevant, even if they were under the radar for several quiet years. Bjork will headline this Friday, Belle & Sebastian lead Saturday and R. Kelly on Sunday.

As music festivals are often measured by the quality and nature of the featured headliners, festivals are further scrutinized by the scheduling of the artists and the choosing of which headliners ‘get’ which night. Many attendees of the entire Pitchfork Festival may be indifferent to which major acts play on certain nights, but it is, fortunately or unfortunately, common for a Friday night headlining slot to be viewed as somehow superior to a Sunday one.

R. Kelly could easily fill the role of kick-starting a prominent three-day festival such as Pitchfork as he is an acclaimed, multi-talented, and invigoratingly energetic live act, but R. Kelly doesn’t represent the whole sound and ambiance of the Pitchfork music festival as appropriately as Bjork does.

The sound and ambiance of this year’s Pitchfork music festival is fairly modern, experimental and progressive. If you’re looking for another music festival that has mostly indie-style acts, Pitchfork isn’t it. Someone recently made the point that all current music festivals try to be alternative. “Indie” music and music festivals are fading from being considered “alternative” as it too vastly became a trend to be “indie” and to be “alternative.” Perhaps Pitchfork is “alternative” as a festival in its own right as it is edgy and relatively different from many other festivals out there.

This year, Pitchfork puts faith in some very new acts such as Tnght, an electronic and experimental hip-hop duo of producers/DJs that formed last year. They will perform just before R. Kelly. Other newish acts at the festival include Mikal Cronin, Andy Stott and Angel Olsen.

Pitchfork will also be presenting multiple foreign artists this weekend, including two of the three headliners. More than a few chosen performers are natives to Scotland. The lineup gives the festival some nice cultural diversity and richness.

Rustie, a DJ from Glasgow performing this Saturday just before Belle and Sebastian, is also a nice representation of the progressiveness and worldliness that Pitchfork seems to aim for. Rustie plays music that is considered to be a part of the new genre called “aquacrunk” or “wonky”–which seems to be a more slowed-down, experimental, and trippy version of dance or club music.

Experimental and electronic music seem to be pretty heavily represented at Pitchfork but the festival is certainly not single-genre-oriented. More ‘traditional’ four and five piece bands (that almost-necessary fix of indie, rock and indie rock is fulfilled in the lineup, by the way) are set to play, such as Wire, Woods and Low. R&B and Hip-Hop are also duly represented by R. Kelly, obviously, Solange, and MIA.

And then there are acts that are difficult to define or label, like Toro Y Moi (a 26 year-old with an impressive amount and quality of work out there, if you care to know) and Evian Christ–a producer without any released music of his own that Pitchfork describes as having a “freaked, haunted ambiance” and is “sparse, twisted R&B.”
This weekend, Pitchfork presents bands that are new, long-time or recharged; American and foreign; known and unknown; and of many genres–defined and undefined. Pitchfork may suit your many music tastes–and it might also push you from a safe, comfort zone and more into an edgy, experimental zone. Tickets are still on sale for this three-day experience or experiment.