Pitchfork Music Festival (which, not sure if you’ve heard, is happening this weekend at Union Park) consistently champions the most adventurous and exciting artists Chicago has to offer. In fact, this year’s edition has more local acts than any previous lineup (13). Here, our rundown of people on the bill who were born here or currently live in the city (apologies to the incredible Julie Byrne, who briefly lived in Chicago but is now based in New York).
Friday, July 20
The Curls: 1 p.m. (Green Stage). Friday aftershow at the Hideout
Across their four-year history, these Chicago art-rockers have evolved from a two-piece to a sprawling sextet. Start with their woozy recent single “Tidal Wave.”
Melkbelly: 1:45 p.m. (Red Stage). Saturday aftershow at Subterranean
These veterans of Chicago’s DIY community have been refining their unpredictable post-punk and loud live show since 2014. The band’s latest full-length, Nothing Valley (featuring tour de force “Kid Kreative”), was a consensus pick for one of the best local albums of 2017.
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society: 3:20 p.m. (Red)
Joshua Abrams has been a staple of Chicago’s avant-garde, experimental, and jazz communities since he moved here in the ’90s. He’s done a little bit of everything, like composing film scores, band leading, playing bass with the Roots and Tortoise, and much more. Magnetoception, from 2015, which he made with his group Natural Information Society, is where you’ll want to start.
Saba: 4:15 p.m. (Green)
Saba should already be a household name for any fan of Chicago hip-hop. He was a promising young rapper on 2013’s ComfortZone, but the artistic leap he’s taken on the brooding Care For Me, released earlier this year, is remarkable.
Open Mike Eagle: 4 p.m. (Blue Stage). Friday aftershow at Lincoln Hall
Open Mike Eagle lives in Los Angeles now but was born in Chicago. His heady and observational hip-hop is lacerating and honest, especially on his standout 2014 project Dark Comedy and his 2017 LP Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, about the Robert Taylor Homes, where his aunt and cousins lived.
Saturday, July 21
Paul Cherry: 1 p.m. (Green). Sunday aftershow at Schubas
Paul Cherry says his parents named him after Paul McCartney, so it’s not a stretch to hear McCartney’s oddball LP Ram in Cherry’s debut album, Flavour. “I See You” and “Like Yesterday” are contenders for Chicago rock song of the year.
Circuit Des Yeux: 4 p.m. (Blue). Thursday preshow at the Empty Bottle
Haley Fohr has the most arresting and interesting voice on the entire Pitchfork lineup—make sure to catch it.
Sunday, July 22
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya: 1 p.m. (Green). Saturday aftershow at Subterranean
Few artists are as adept at bouncing between musical styles from than Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, the talented local artist whose work has incorporated indie rock, math rock, punk rock, and hip-hop. Check out his album Drool for the best introduction to his eclectic taste.
Kweku Collins: 2:30 p.m. (Green). Saturday aftershow at Schubas
This Evanston native and Closed Sessions-signed artist released his breakthrough project Nat Love in 2015, featuring song-of-the-summer candidate “Stupid Rose.”
Ravyn Lenae: 3:20 p.m. (Red)
This rising singer released her single, “Sticky,” in December but it already feels like a 21st-century R&B standard.
Smino: 4:15 p.m. (Green)
Though this smooth MC is from St. Louis and still reps for his hometown, he’s lived in Chicago long enough that he can reasonably be labeled a Chicagoan. His full-length Blkswn was this magazine’s favorite local album of 2017.
Noname: 5:15 p.m. (Red)
Listening to Noname rap feels like having a life-affirming and cathartic conservation with a close friend. Her heartfelt delivery and poetic lyrics anchor her soulful mixtape, 2016’s Telephone.
Chaka Khan: 7:25 p.m. (Red)
There’s no way Chaka Khan’s iconic career can be boiled down in fewer than 100 words. You already hopefully know her hits, like “I’m Every Woman,” “I Feel For You,” and “Tell Me Something Good.”
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