Out of all the major summer music festivals in Chicago, Pitchfork Music Festival has always been the best at highlighting local talent. In any given year, you can expect seven to twelve hometown artists populating the bill over the weekend. This year, however, the 2022 iteration of the fest only boasts four Chicago acts — and that’s depending on how you count it. While that number marks a surprisingly down year for the long-running Union Park event, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t deep 312 connections throughout the lineup.
Although Spirit of the Beehive — scheduled to play Friday — is from Philadelphia, their debut came out on Chicago label Ice Age. On top of that, member Corey Wichlin, who joined the group in 2019, is from Park Ridge and has played in area bands including Churchkey. Karate, also playing on Friday, aren’t from Chicago but their frontman Geoff Farina has lived in Chicago since 2010 following the band’s 2005 dissolution and is a professor at DePaul. Local label Numero Group has recently reissued the Boston group’s music, too.
If you look for them, there are small but sturdy throughlines all over the festival to this city. Below, we’ve compiled the four Pitchfork-approved acts that have the best claim to Chicago.
Saturday, July 16:
1:00-1:40pm: Jeff Parker & the New Breed (Green stage)
Jeff Parker has lived in Los Angeles since 2013, but he built his career in Chicago and maintains a sturdy presence here since his relocation. As a member of local experimental rock mainstays Tortoise since 1996, the guitarist has gleefully jumped between the city’s indie rock and jazz communities for years. His latest solo album, Forfolks, was released via Nonesuch Records and local label International Anthem. It boasts guitar improvisation and dizzying loops.
1:45-2:25pm: CupcakKe (Red stage)
CupcakKe, the rapper born Elizabeth Harris, grew up in Greater Grand Crossing on Chicago’s South Side. She makes hard-hitting songs that are as raunchy as they are deliciously fun. Though she hasn’t released a full-length project since 2018, she’s released a string of stellar singles like “Squidward Nose” and this year’s “h2hoe,” as well as being a judge on OutTV’s reality TV show Hot Haus.
Sunday, July 17:
2:30-3:15pm: KAINA (Green)
Kaina Castillo’s latest album, the nostalgic and soulful It Was a Home, not only proves that she’s one of the city’s most versatile and evocative singers but also one of its best songwriters. While her music is now on the record label City Slang, she began her career on local upstart Sooper Records, which is co-owned by her frequent collaborators and Chicago compatriots NNAMDÏ and Sen Morimoto.
5:15-6:10pm: Noname (Red)
Noname is a Bronzeville-raised rapper who now calls Los Angeles home, but her dense and introspective songs encapsulate Chicago better than anyone else. Though the artist born Fatimah Warner has been slowly releasing mesmerizing and thoughtful singles following her 2018 full-length Room 25, she’s also focused on her Noname Book Club. What started as an online community focused on radical literature and supporting Black-owned independent bookstores is now a brick-and-mortar space in Los Angeles.