If you’re going to Pitchfork Music Fest this year, these are our must-see shows.
Freddie Kane is a must see for any Pitchfork-goer this summer. Freddie’s collaboration with Madlib, Bandana, is perhaps the best rap album of the year thus far—not to mention (the duo’s precursor) Piñata is growing in “classic,” status. Though Freddie is billed as a solo act, we should all be hoping that he will be primarily showcasing Bandana, as his past few solo projects have paled in comparison to his Madlib collabs (but then again, who doesn’t like to bob to some cocaine trap bangers anyway?). This year, Gibbs has been in album mode in preparation for his album release, and otherwise playing a set here and there at festivals and unique venues (e.g. Rolling Loud, MoMA PS1, Made in America Festival this coming July/August). Freddie sets out for his European tour this coming October.
Getting ready for his set? Listen to Bandana, Piñata, and other hits such as “Death Row (feat. 03 Greedo),” “Willie Lloyd,” and “Crushed Glass.”
The Brooklyn-based post-punk group Parquet Courts is an act destined to stand out at this year’s Pitchfork festival. Last year brought with it Parquet Courts’ sixth studio album, Wide Awake!, one of the best rock records of the year and arguably one of the best albums released in 2018. Packed with catchy, groovy licks and themes, curious lyrics, and flawless production, Wide Awake! achieves massive crossover appeal to attract all types of listeners. This album demonstrates that the group could envision a (brilliant) artistic concept and expertly realize that concept on wax. This year, the band has been relatively inactive in the public eye (perhaps in album mode?) besides dropping a music video, playing a miscellaneous gig here and there at venues and festivals (Roskilde, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork), and occasionally popping across the pond to perform in Europe.
Getting ready for their set? Listen to Wide Awake! and other hits such as “Berlin Got Blurry,” “Human Performance,” and “Stoned and Starving.”
The Isley Brothers
By the time they get to Pitchfork, the Isley Brothers will be just over halfway through their 60th Anniversary Tour. This tour is bringing 60 years of music and upwards of 40 years of Billboard-charting hits to Chicago, making stops before and after in Nashville, Maryland, Northern and Southern California, and more. Perhaps only rivalled by Mavis Staples, Ronald and Ernie Isley (two of the four surviving Isley brothers) are with certainty the oldest players in the game performing at this year’s Pitchfork fest. Their hits are some of music’s most recognizable ballads (“Shout,” “That Lady,” “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)”) and some of hip-hop’s most historic samples (“Footsteps in the Dark” was sampled by Biggie on “Big Poppa”; “Between the Sheets” was sampled by Ice Cube on “It Was a Good Day”; “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love)” was sampled by J Dilla on “Bye.”)—not to mention writing and recording some of the original baby-makin’ tunes in the world of black music. With this show being a stop on their 60th anniversary tour, the Isleys are sure to perform all their hits and nothing but the hits, making for a supremely soulful, sensual, and nostalgic set.
Getting ready for their set? Listen to The Essential Isley Brothers.
Khruangbin is a band continually proving itself as a force to be reckoned with. The trio, hailing from Houston, draws on gospel, instrumental surf, indie rock, funk, and Thai funk, shredding to pieces any genre label that attempts to confine the versatility of their sound. Their 2018 sophomore album Con Todo El Mundo established the group as an innovative up-and-comer in alternative music, pushing a style that fuses together funky, psychedelic guitar plucks and riffs with hard-hitting basslines and soothing, reverberating percussion. Khruangbin communicates blissfulness better than anyone right now, and—being the excellent performers that they are—will put any Pitchfork attendee into a trance this weekend. The band has had a busy 2019, already finishing off two international tours and releasing a dub reworking of last year’s album, titled Hasta El Cielo. This summer, they are making stops at festivals around the world, and thankfully, Chicago’s Pitchfork fest made the cut
Getting ready for their set? Listen to Con Todo El Mundo.
One of DXCEGAME’s most beloved, Peggy is pushing punk rap harder than anyone on the scene in 2019. His sophomore album released last year, Veteran, hurled JPEGMAFIA into the spotlight of rap fans across the globe yearning for something as angry and energetic as his soul-crushing ballads. Since the release of Veteran, it has become clear that the self-produced rapper is not afraid of trailblazing into his own realm of rage and fury, drawing on his struggles as a U.S. military veteran and Black American to propel his goofy, violent, and brutally honest bars. This year, Peggy has been touring the country with Vince Staples, playing one-offs in the U.S. and abroad, and pushing his latest single, “The Who (feat. Eyas).” A notoriously terrific and energetic performer, JPEGMAFIA should be a priority on your schedule for Pitchfork weekend.
Getting ready for his set? Listen to Veteran and singles such as “The Who (feat. Eyas),” “Puff Daddy (prod. Kenny Beats),” and “Does This Ski Mask Make Me Look Fat? (feat. Heno.).”
The Odd Future graduate has established himself as one of the most gifted and tantalizing MCs of his generation. Beginning with 2010’s self titled Earl and culminating in last years instant-classic Some Rap Songs, Sweaty is undeniably one of the most clever and essential artists out. His singular ear for instrumentation and his laureate level writing combine for a sonic experience that is matched by few, and the wise-beyond-his-years rapper guarantees for one of the most intimate and captivating experiences at this year’s show. With only three studio albums under his belt (2013’s Doris, 2015’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, and the aforementioned Some Rap Songs), it will be easy to find the hits. But what really makes Earl’s live sets the experience they are is the wealth of deep cuts and unreleased material he always brings to the table. A must see set if there is one at this year’s fest.
Getting ready for their set? Listen to Some Rap Songs and I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside.
A historically underappreciated virtuoso, the undisputed king of coke-rap Pusha T is one of the most prolific and talented rappers of his generation. With a 20 year career spanning the early 2000s Neptunes backed group, Clipse, and a glistening solo career largely accompanying the production of Kanye West, Push has more genre defining cuts than any artist could ask for. What is perhaps most intriguing about this storied career is Push’s ability to consistently rap about the same thing and still stay at the frontier of rap’s cutting edge. He hasn’t lost any steps and has quite possibly gotten better with age. Aging like fine wine perhaps, though alcohol is not his drug of choice. He’s riding high on a wave following the Grammy-nominated masterpiece Daytona (2018) and his slaying of Drake. Expect the bravado of a man half his age, with the sonic palette of an artist twice his age. YUGHK!
Getting ready for their set? Listen to Daytona and Hell Hath No Fury
Charli XCX started her career songwriting for acts like Rihanna and Gwen Stefani and has quickly become one of the most important voices in contemporary pop. The brit had been bubbling on UK charts since 2013, but first saw attention in the states featured on Iggy Azalea’s chart topping Fancy. She penned many hits, including the delightful I Love It with Icona Pop, and saw some singles pop on US charts, but really cracked the shell with her full-length mixtape Pop 2. She has consistently churned out bangers and earworms since, and is gearing up to drop her next project, Charli, in September. Following Pop 2, she opened for Taylor Swift on her Reputation tour with fellow pop darling Camila Cabello. Her electric energy and distinct ear for pop hits will surely make her one of the most exciting, frenetic performances this year.
Getting ready for their set? Listen to Pop 2 and Sucker
The sugar trap princess Rico Nasty has been on a tear since breaking into the scene last year with her full length debut, Nasty. Teaming up with Kenny Beats’ heavy metal trap sound, Rico has been the forebearer of the punk-rap sound, something between Playboi Carti and Death Grips. There are few artists, let alone rappers, with the high octane, don’t-give-a-fuckness that she brings to the table, and her repertoire of hits ranges from the power chord grind of Trust Issues to the Missy Elliott and Jay Z flips on Counting Up and Hating respectively. She has the rock chops to go with her rap bonafides, and the seamless collision of her influences will guarantee some of, if not the best pits at the fest. If you want a good wall of death this year, this is a must see. This year saw tours and her collab project with Kenny Beats, Anger Management, but she has slappers dating back to 2017. Truly a breath of fresh air in the highly saturated trap field today.