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Our guide to the Pitchfork Music Festival 

Reviews of all 45 bands, a rundown of afterparties, and a free 29-song download

Page 3 of 4

Saturday, July 16

[Included in 29-song download] Bands with this icon are part of our free 29-track playlist

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[Included in 29-song download] Julianna Barwick, 1:00 PM Green stage On her arresting album The Magic Place (Asthmatic Kitty) Brooklyn's Julianna Barwick uses wordless vocal patterns—processed, looped, layered—and sprinklings of piano and guitar to create lush, heavenly vignettes. More than once I've seen her compared to new age thrush Enya, which makes little sense given the mysterious turbulence in her ethereal harmonies—Barwick's music sounds like something by Terry Riley, not a soundtrack to a reiki session. She recently made an album of improvisations with pioneering electronicist Ikue Mori where she demonstrates a kind of fearlessness that's practically antithetical to the new age aesthetic. —Peter Margasak

Chrissy Murderbot featuring MC Zulu, 1:00 PM Blue stage Like a lot of dance-music fans, local producer Chris Shively (aka Chrissy Murderbot) has recently been a bit gaga over footwork music. In case you're unfamiliar, footwork is the south-side-born descendant of house and juke known for its spooky melodies and 160-bpm tempos, and it's got a growing reputation as a possible successor to dubstep, that au courant genre that unites dance-floor hedonists and cerebral art-music producers. A good number of the songs on Shively's new full-length, Women's Studies—released by esteemed British dance label Planet Mu—are built around footwork beats. But as with his past efforts, he never sticks with one style for long, preferring to take sharp turns into electro, dancehall, or whatever else can hold his attention long enough for him to put a track together. He'll be joined onstage by local dancehall vocalist MC Zulu, a frequent collaborator who appears on Women's Studies on the track "The Vibe Is So Right." Also Fri 7/15 at Ultra Lounge, 21+. —Miles Raymer

[Included in 29-song download] Woods, 1:45 PM Red stage The latest Woods album, this spring's Sun and Shade (Woodsist), is packed with decades-old stylistic rips: a Neu! groove here, a Lou Reed riff there, Byrds-style 12-string guitars everywhere, and a fantastic anthem called "Any Other Day" that sounds like P.F. Sloan backed by Keith Moon on drums. The song's soaring chorus ("I won't believe that it can't get worse") is the best summation I've heard of the nation's post-Yes We Can comedown. Onstage there's no hint of that trepidation in their giddy jams, though, as Jeremy Earl's raga-rock guitar extrapolations snake through the obstacle course of G. Lucas Crane's cassette-born sound effects. Also tonight at Subterranean with Kurt Vile & the Violators, 17+. —Bill Meyer

[Included in 29-song download] Sun Airway, 1:55 PM Blue stage Stacked up against the lightning-rod rappers, math-rock wizards, and genre-defining icons on the bill at this year's Pitchfork fest, Sun Airway's airy, wistful indie-­pop might seem downright tame. But the sparkly, shiny tunes on this Philadelphia band's ludicrously titled debut, last year's Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier (Dead Oceans), hit the spot with their synth-heavy hooks even as they float off the stage. This isn't the sort of music that grabs you by the collar and forces you to pay attention, but it's great for a sunny summer day. Also Fri 7/15 at Schubas, 18+. —Leor Galil

Cold Cave, 2:30 PM Green stage Wesley Eisold learned to spill his guts as front man for several late-90s/early-­00s hardcore bands (American Nightmare/Give Up the Ghost, Some Girls, et cetera), and his morose vocal style translates perfectly to Cold Cave, whose dark, driving synth-pop draws on 80s new wave like the Cure and Depeche Mode. The group's impressive second album, Cherish the Light Years (Matador), dropped in April. —Kevin Warwick

[Included in 29-song download] G-Side, 2:50 PM Blue stage Yung Clova and ST, aka hip-hop duo G-Side from Huntsville, Alabama, might have less name recognition than any act on the festival's bill, but that's all the more reason to catch their set. If the gods of music popularity have any sense of justice, G-Side's blend of straight-off-the-streets rap shit and abstract musical exploration is gonna blow up, and you'll want to say you saw them back when. —Miles Raymer

click to enlarge TODD COLE
  • Todd Cole

[Included in 29-song download] No Age, 3:20 PM Red stage This duo of Angelenos has earned a reputation as one of the foremost punk bands in the world without sounding or looking much like a punk band—their albums tend to oscillate between psychedelic ambience and bursts of frenetic noise, and despite their aggression they come off as more chilled-out than confrontational. Still, there's a good reason to call No Age punk—more than any other band going, they know how to evoke the almost mystical energy of a great punk show, and for anyone who's ever been addicted to the stuff, their live sets are pure bliss. —Miles Raymer

[Included in 29-song download] Wild Nothing, 3:45 PM Blue stage Though Wild Nothing tours as a full band, it's undoubtedly a one-man show, hosted by and starring Jack Tatum of Blacksburg, Virginia. With song titles like "Live in Dreams," "Summer Holiday," and "Drifter," Tatum telegraphs the niche he's occupying—Wild Nothing hangs out in the clouds above a landscape of summery dream-pop that's filled with shoegaze guitars, minimalist drums, and droning, deadpan vocals. Last year's debut full-length, Gemini (Captured Tracks), is consistently chill—the ultimate sunny, midday-Saturday Pitchfork soundtrack. The yearning in his music ought to appeal particularly to folks clustering on picnic blankets and everyone who's stoned. Also Fri 7/15 at Subterranean, 17+. —Kevin Warwick

Gang Gang Dance, 4:15 PM Green stage Gang Gang Dance has always been the best kind of weird, colliding a feverish, vaguely tribal hippie throb with noisy improvisation, downtown New York art-disco, and no-wave clangor. The new Eye Contact (4AD) is their most polished release yet, but they sound even more bizarre and unpredictable, creating many kinds of tension—slick 80s radio funk fights a tug-of-war with dancehall, and Lizzi Bougatsos's strange Bollywood-inspired vocals tangle with synth-guitar licks and washes of keyboard in a way that suggests a Muzak take on Madonna or a forgotten house diva from a lost continent. Better yet, this stylistic range never feels dilettantish or self-consciously eclectic—just compellingly foreign. Also Fri 7/15 at the Empty Bottle, 21+. —Peter Margasak

click to enlarge DAN MONICK

[Included in 29-song download] Off!, 4:45 PM Blue stage Thirty-five years in, Keith Morris remains one of very few more or less unsullied figureheads in the great hierarchy of hardcore punk. This affords him certain privileges—including doing whatever the fuck he wants all the time, even if that means interrupting the production of the first Circle Jerks album in 14 years to start Off! In late 2009 Morris began writing songs with guitarist Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides) while Coats was producing the aforementioned Circle Jerks album, and in seemingly no time the 16-song, 17-minute assault First Four EPs (Vice) was done. Morris still has a thing or two sticking in his craw ("Now I'm Pissed," "Fuck People"), and he shares his feelings in frenzied blasts of raw, unfiltered punk—the songs are short, simple, and dirty, just as they should be. Also Sun 7/17 at Reggie's Rock Club, 17+. —Kevin Warwick

Destroyer, 5:15 PM Red stage Easy listening made endearingly difficult by the tangled wordplay of Dan Bejar (New Pornographers, Swan Lake). Imagine a mellow summer afternoon with a mimosa and a side of Merriam-Webster's. —Mara Shalhoup

[Included in 29-song download] The Radio Dept., 5:45 PM Blue stage This Swedish band alternates between bruising noise-pop (a la early Jesus & Mary Chain) and fragile ballads. It's nothing you haven't heard before, except maybe in the sense that Radio Dept. sound especially bored while playing it. —Peter Margasak

click to enlarge DAVE HOLLOWAY
  • Dave Holloway

[Included in 29-song download] The Dismemberment Plan, 6:15 PM Green stage By the time they split up in 2003, the Dismemberment Plan owned their niche: by cross-pollinating the brashly nerdy and the hip cool, they'd popularized a hybrid of quirky indie rock and danceable postpunk. The D.C. quartet's third album, 1999's Emergency & I, got a fancy remastered double-vinyl reissue from Barsuk in January, and for good reason: it's the Plan at their best, combining the herky-jerky fun of 1997's The Dismemberment Plan Is Terrified with a new maturity but still not sweating the mess of confetti and party favors. Travis Morrison sasses his way through the album with a dorky magnetism and lyrics that mix the triumphal with the tongue-in-cheek, while the bass, drums, and keyboards create frantic, urgent grooves full of head-fakes and extra beats—enough to get the gangliest, most sheepish zit-faced kid dancing shamelessly at a too-cool-for-school party. —Kevin Warwick

[Included in 29-song download] Twin Shadow, 6:45 PM Blue stage The most common comparison people make when they talk about Twin Shadow (aka George Lewis Jr.) seems to be Morrissey, which is fair to Lewis's swoon-and-croon vocal style but doesn't tell the whole story. His recent Forget (Terrible Records) shimmies and pops in a saucy way that's not quite like anything in Moz's catalog—it's more like the decadent early-80s output of Bowie or Prince. Also tonight at Beauty Bar (DJ set) with Deerhunter (DJ set), sold out. —Miles Raymer

DJ Shadow, 7:25 PM Red stage The 14 years that have passed since the release of DJ Shadow's debut album, Endtroducing. . . . . , have done little to diminish the shocking impact of its elaborate sample-based constructions, and the legions of wannabes who've tried to match its quality haven't done much damage either. The tense, anticipation-building piano riff that opens the first proper song on the record, "Building Steam With a Grain of Salt," still raises hairs, and its berserk polyrhythmic breakdown still astonishes. Shadow himself seems to have given up on matching it, and has instead switched from showcasing the depth of his crates to emphasizing their breadth—putting out an album steeped in Bay Area hyphy, say, or curating Soundcloud mixes of tweaked-out vintage Korean psych-funk. —Miles Raymer

[Included in 29-song download] Zola Jesus, 7:40 PM Blue stage Postgoth chanteuse Zola Jesus (born Nika Danilova) is only 22, but even in her earliest work she doesn't sound like a self-indulgent college kid with an all-black wardrobe and a Siouxsie Sioux fixation—her vocal control takes the music to another level entirely. Her second album, Conatus, is due in October from Sacred Bones, and "Vessel," its first single, features fuller production and even more assured singing. —Peter Margasak

click to enlarge SEAN PECKNOLD
  • Sean Pecknold

[Included in 29-song download] Fleet Foxes, 8:30 PM Green stage On their gorgeous second album, Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop), Seattle's Fleet Foxes don't tinker much with their successful strategy; if anything, the songs are clearer and stronger than on their 2008 debut. The focus remains on Robin Pecknold's pretty melodies, steeped in late-60s folk rock, as well as on the vocal harmonies his bandmates array around them—they sound like something you might get from a cross between a Renaissance choir and 70s soft-rock paragons Bread, and I mean that as a compliment. The arrangements are still built on simple guitar, mandolin, and keyboard parts, but this time unexpected instrumental embellishments pop up here and there—like the borderline cacophonous bass-clarinet squawks at the end of "The Shrine / An Argument" and the zipping violin of Alina To on "Bedouin Dress." To my ears, bands don't usually sound their best playing outdoors, but the Millennium Park show in 2008 where I first saw Fleet Foxes was one the year's highlights. —Peter Margasak

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