Music

10 Artists to See at the Pitchfork Music Festival

Photo by Jessica Mlinaric

Summer never really starts in Chicago until Pitchfork weekend. Now in its 14th year, the Pitchfork Music Festival brings 42 bands and artists to Union Park July 19–21.

The lineup is always one of the most unique in the crowded festival landscape, featuring up-and-coming artists alongside avant-garde musicians and established icons. From indie rockers to hip-hop MCs, Pitchfork has a pulse on music’s cool and emerging tastes.

This year’s headliners include L.A. pop sisters Haim, R&B idols the Isley Brothers, and Swedish dance-pop siren Robyn. Chicago artists feature heavily on the bill, including gospel legend Mavis Staples, indie rockers Whitney, rapper Valee, the Great Black Music Ensemble, and more.

Stake out your spot in Union Park, because you won’t want to miss this celebration of music, art, and summer in Chicago.

Photo courtesy of Amber Mark/Facebook

Julia Holter
Nestled in the trees, the blue stage is the perfect setting for Holter’s baroque pop to take flight. Her latest album, Aviary, imitates chattering birds with its swirling sounds and melodious ballads. The experimental composer combines indie, classical, and electronic elements to create surprising, lush arrangements.
Details: July 19; 5:30 p.m., Blue Stage

Low
Far from being predictable, Low continues to push musical boundaries after 25 years. Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s latest album, Double Negative, deconstructs their signature harmonies and minimal arrangements with haunting, atmospheric effect. Their music may be called slowcore, yet it’s anything but sleepy.
Details: Friday, July 19; 7:45 p.m., Blue Stage

Amber Mark
Mark has been called the heir to Sade. The New York singer even covers Sade on her Conexão EP, delivering a fresh take on the soulful classic. Her brand of R&B is less smooth and more multicultural, with influences from her time spent living in India and Miami, among other places.
Details: July 20; 5:15 p.m., Blue Stage

Photo courtesy of JPEGMAFIA/Facebook

Kurt Vile
You won’t hear too many Vile songs at Pitchfork. While other artists cram their sets with radio-length hits, the Philly guitar hero allows songs to burn slow and wind where they may. Join his psych-folk jam, soak in his hazy riffs, and enjoy the rare sound of guitar rock in Union Park.
Details: July 20; 5:15 p.m., Red Stage

Stereolab
This isn’t a dream—Stereolab has reunited for their first tour in over a decade. The iconic British avant-pop band will wind down Saturday with their dreamy electronic vibes. Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier will lead the group in favorites from Dots and Loops, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, and more for the perfect summer set.
Details: July 20; 6:15 p.m., Green Stage

Photo courtesy of Ibeyi/Facebook

Black Midi
London quartet Black Midi commands a range of influences to brew their own sound in a kind of edgy indie-rock alchemy. While their debut album, Schlagenheim, was just released this June, the band’s fidgety sound is already gathering buzz. Between punk outbursts, prog-influenced wandering, math-y time signatures, thrashing drums, and unnerving vocals, Black Midi marks familiar musical elements with their own energetic stamp.
Details: July 21; 2:30 p.m., Green Stage

JPEGMAFIA
Light up your Sunday afternoon with the raw energy of JPEGMAFIA. The avant-garde Baltimore MC spits his outspoken sociopolitical messages with an intense, even abrasive, delivery. As his die-hard fans can testify, Peggy’s rapid-fire rhymes are something to behold.
Details: July 21; 3:20 p.m., Red Stage

Photo by Audrey Melton/Courtesy of Snail Mail

Ibeyi
Ibeyi was made for grooving on a Sunday afternoon. French twins Lisa-Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz make ethereal, jazzy electronic music with soulful harmonies. Their eclectic influences span French, Afro-Cuban, Yoruba, and more for a haunting and entirely unique sound.
Details: July 21; 3:20 p.m., Red Stage

Snail Mail
Lindsey Jordan puts your high school diary to shame. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter captures the messy emotional work of adolescence with a poetic honesty far beyond her years. Snail Mail’s indie guitar pop is a fitting soundtrack to Jordan’s tales of heartbreak and hope.
Details: July 21; 7:45 p.m., Blue Stage

Robyn
Call your girlfriend, because Robyn is headlining Pitchfork. The Swedish electro-pop sensation returns to Union Park for the first time since 2010 to close out the festival on Sunday night. Her synth-driven hits from Body Talk and 2018’s Honey will transform the field into one big dance floor.
Details: July 21; 8:30 p.m., Green Stage

Photo courtesy of Robyn/Facebook