Photography: (Reed) Giovanni Piesco; (Farrell) Tom Watkins/Rex Features/AP
Now in its eighth year, Pitchfork (July 19 to 21 in Union Park; pitchforkmusicfestival.com) offers up three stages, 40 bands, and a sprawling poster festival to some 50,000 indie-credential-flashing hipsters. It’s so cool it now has a sister event in Paris.
THE CURATOR: Chicago jazz drummer and music scene impresario Mike Reed, one of the early organizers, who has helped shape the fest since its start
BIGGEST COUP: Art-rock chanteuse Björk. “We have been working on getting her for almost two years,” says Reed. “I’m still shocked it’s happening.” R&B sensation R. Kelly, hip-hop pot stirrer M.I.A., and esoteric harpist Joanna Newsom also headline.
DON’T MISS UP-AND-COMERS: Reed recommends the local singer-strummer Angel Olsen (see “Three Great Artists Making Music in Chicago This Summer”): “She’s quickly gaining the attention of an international audience,” he says. His other picks: Solange, Woods, and Killer Mike.
REQUISITE THROWBACK: Seminal ’90s rockers the Breeders. The legends of the MTV golden age reunite to play their album Last Splash in its entirety. “It’s a special record,” says Reed.
AFTERPARTY: Fest neighbor and metal haven Cobra Lounge books intimate after-shows at its free Cobrafest (sign up for alerts at cobrafest.sailorjerrypresents.com).
Solidly planted in Grant Park since 2005, the formerly freewheeling Lollapalooza (Aug. 2 to 4; lollapalooza.com) is now a corporate behemoth. Passes sold out in three hours—which means some 300,000 people will cram in front of its eight stages.
THE CURATOR: Former Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, who started Lollapalooza in 1991 as a farewell party for his band
BIGGEST COUP: Polarizing singer and style icon Lana Del Rey. “She had a bumpy start,” Farrell says, “but she hasn’t toured much, so she will surprise a lot of people.” Fabulous Frenchmen Phoenix, newgrass rockers Mumford & Sons, and Vegas glam band the Killers get top billing.
DON’T MISS UP-AND-COMERS: Farrell predicts that the Swedish house beat maker Steve Angello—who first found fame for his remix of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”—will pack the dance stage. “He’s coming into his own now.”
REQUISITE THROWBACK: Emo originators the Cure. “When you see the Cure live, you’re reminded of how many great songs they have,” says Farrell. “It will bring people back.”
AFTERPARTY: There are 30-plus late-night shows (see our top nine picks), but Farrell points to Kendrick Lamar at the Aragon on Saturday at 10 p.m. (see lollapalooza.com for details). “He is changing the perception and possibilities for hip-hop.”
WANT TO SCORE A TICKET?
PITCHFORK Weekend passes ($120) have sold out, but one-day tickets ($50) are still available. In the event that the day passes sell out, there are generally plenty of scalpers along Ashland Avenue and Lake Street.
LOLLAPALOOZA The festival is sold out, but Chicago ticket brokers like StubHub are offering tickets at up to three times face value (original prices: $95 for one-day passes; $235 for three-day passes).
More summer music content:
Summer Music Calendar | Pitchfork vs. Lolla Smackdown | Talent Spotting | Jeff Tweedy at Middle Age
Chicago’s Next Big Rap Star | Our Q&A with John C. Reilly | 40 Performers Everyone’s Buzzing About