Attending a music festival doesn’t have to mean stepping foot on park grounds. Many of the city’s best music festivals, including this weekend’s Pitchfork, include pre-parties and after-parties featuring performers who’ll be at the official fest. Here’s our guide to the best of the bunch.
BK4T P4K Pre-Party
Interested in a quieter way of kicking off your Pitchfork weekend? Consider Book Fort’s pre-party in celebration of their fifth year at the festival. Book Fort offers on-site poetry, live lit, and storytelling events throughout the festival. The event will also feature readings from Book Fort’s volunteers including Jac Jemc, Rachel Wiseman, Ariel Lewiton, Catherine Eves, C. Russell Price, and Naomi Huffman.
The Whistler, 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave., 21+, 7-8 p.m.
Whitney DJ set
Speaking of quieter events, the Virgin Hotel Chicago will kick off a weekend of after-festival events throughout their space. Start with a Goose Island beer tasting and a DJ set by local favorites Whitney, who have perfected the sound of summer on their debut album full of chill, lazy afternoon stunners. The group will christen the festival’s more avant-garde Blue Stage on Friday afternoon, but before that, get a taste of their influences in this low-key party.
Virgin Hotel Chicago, 203 N. Wabash Ave., 21+, 8-11 p.m.
Super Future vs. Fire Marshal Future
Future is not performing at Pitchfork this year, but the rapper is a staple on the site, with regular news coverage and criticism for his solo and collaborative projects. Dubbed “the best (and only worthwhile) all-Future party,” this party features notable music critics and editors including Fire Marshal Meaghan (Meaghan Garvey of MTV News and formerly of Pitchfork) and Kyle Kramer and Eric Sundermann of Vice.
East Room, 2354 N. Milwaukee Ave., 21+, 9 p.m.
Berlin continues to promote an eclectic commitment to programming across the dance and electronic music spectrum. This latest event, created in partnership with event promoters 1833, promises a diverse array of DJ sets from the likes of DJ Manny from Teklife and Claudia de Châlon. The party will also include drink specials like $2 PBRs and the promoters will raffle off a pair of three-day passes to the festival. Proceeds from the party benefit Mujeres Latinas en Acción. RSVP on Do312 for reduced door cover price before midnight.
Berlin, 954 W. Belmont Ave., 21+, 10 p.m.
Playground: a dance party for big kids
This collaborative event features a DJ set from Suzi Analogue and Ladybug Mecca (Mary Ann Vieira), a member of Digable Planets. Digable Planets, the influential ’90s hip hop trio, returns to the city after a long group hiatus to play selected tracks from their latest album, 2015’s Beyond the Spectrum: the Creamy Spy Chronicles. Expect long lines. A portion of proceeds will benefit Foundations of Music. RSVP on Do312 for no cover before midnight.
East Room, 2354 N. Milwaukee Ave., 21+, 9 p.m., $5
Bump & GrindFORK
This unofficial after-party hosted by Chicago’s Bump & Grindcore party collective has become one of the most well-attended and danceable events in the city. (Full disclosure: I have hosted Bump & Grindcore parties in the past.) This year’s party appears to be the collective’s biggest yet, with a headlining DJ set by mashup kings The Hood Internet. Arrive early to get a good spot on the dance floor; this party always has a long line and its close proximity to Union Park promises an even longer (but worth it) wait. RSVP with Do312 to skip the cover before 10 p.m.
Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave., 21+, 9 p.m., $5
Jenny Hval and Circuit des Yeux
Not interested in an after-party? Check out Jenny Hval and Circuit des Yeux. Both women perform early during the festival, which gives you another chance to watch them live before the weekend is done. Expect the unexpected during both performers’ sets as they’ve each crafted unique sounds that incorporate everything from storytelling to poetry to performance art.
Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave., 18+, 10 p.m., $12–$15
Sun Ra Arkestra
After-parties and shows don’t need to be dance parties. And thankfully, Constellation has nabbed the iconic Sun Ra Arkestra to provide music fans a one-of-a-kind listening experience that incorporates everything from jazz to funk to art rock. If you can’t see them at the festival, make sure to see them here in this rare Chicago performance.
Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave., 18+, 8 p.m., $20–$25
Neon Indian DJ set
A brief hiatus allowed Alan Palomo of Neon Indian to regroup and redevelop his sound his band’s sound. On their latest album, 2015’s Vega Intl. Night School, the group dropped their lo-fi rock for neon bright, Miami Vice-like dirty synths. The experiment worked. Join Palomo for a DJ set at the Virgin Hotel’s gorgeous, 26th floor rooftop bar, Cerise, where fans will hopefully get insight into the array of influences that shape Neon Indian’s sound.
Cerise, 203 N. Wabash Ave., 21+, 9 p.m.
RP Boo and DJ Spinn
After years in underground music circles in Chicago, the city’s footwork scene has gained international recognition, especially in Europe and Japan. Icons of the music genre like RP Boo, a member of Teklife and a scheduled performer at this year’s festival, have found fame outside of the city’s borders. Visit Smart Bar for a footwork-focused night featuring RP Boo and DJ Spinn, along with other notable scene stars like Scratcha DVA, DJ Taye, and DJ Manny.
Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark St., 21+, 10 p.m., $15
Musician Lorely Rodriguez is one of the most underrated performers currently working. Her combination of quirky, abrasive synths with empowering and provocative lyrics that address everything from sexual harassment to feminism makes her the kind of star we so desperately need in 2016.
Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., 21+, 11 p.m., $15
Cool down with a dose of folk rock from Brooklyn-based band Woods. Their performance serves as a nice break from the usual influx of nightlife-acquainted performers.
Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., 21+, 11 p.m., $15
This all-dude four-piece offers post-punk millennial style, meaning abrasive guitars, weird hooks, and angular rhythms, but slightly influenced by the rock trends of today. If you missed their early set at the festival, you won’t want to miss this second chance.
Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont Ave., 17+, 11 p.m., $12–$14
Whitney brunch DJ set
If you missed the local duo on Thursday, get your beats with your eats with this more intimate set at Nellcote in the West Loop that’s open to the public. Fuel up before the last day of the festival.
Nellcote, 833 W. Randolph St., 12-2 p.m.
Joey Purp and Knox Fortune
They might not be performing at this year’s festival, but both Joey Purp and Knox Fortune have received praise from Pitchfork’s taste-makers. In June, the site gave Purp’s latest mixtape, iiiDrops, the coveted Best New Music designation. And local producer Knox Fortune continued to make a name for himself with production credits on new releases including Chance the Rapper’s new, critically acclaimed mixtape, Coloring Book. Since both performers are part of the new generation of hometown heroes, anticipate surprise performances from their many famous (or soon-to-be famous) pals.
Virgin Hotel Chicago, 203 N. Wabash Ave., 21+, 9 p.m.
Prepare to fall in love with Porches. Musician Aaron Maine’s brand of throwback, synth pop is equal parts romantic and nostalgic. His set will be a perfect thing to counter the frenetic energy of the festival weekend.
Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., 21+, 9 p.m., $12
Holly Herndon and Jlin
A Holly Herndon live show is unlike any other. Featuring her cheeky interpretations of contemporary internet/technology culture with her weird electronic stylings (not quite danceable but definitely not boring), Herndon has promoted herself as a truly one-of-a-kind artist. Gary, Indiana-based Jlin’s not-quite-footwork has found more acclaim outside of the Chicagoland area than within it, but that doesn’t reflect on its quality. Arrive early to hear her unique, rapid-pace creations.
Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave., 18+, 10 p.m., $20
Expect something “epic” during Washington’s set. The popular saxophonist who has worked with Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus made a name for himself in the last year with the release of The Epic, a three-hour long journey through experimental jazz and R&B. We can only anticipate his live show will offer the same sort of expansive musicianship.
Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake St., 17+, 10:30 p.m., $22