10 artists to see at Pitchfork Festival 2017

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Pitchfork is taking over Union Park in Chicago this weekend with their annual music festival. Here are our ten must-see sets of the event.  

Vince Staples

Coming in hot off a big feature on the new Gorillaz record and one of the most anticipated hip-hop record of the year (OK, maybe that’s Kendrick, but still) the stage for Vince will surely be packed, might want to get there early. I would love to see him bring some of the guests from his STACKED new record. Seeing Damon Albarn or Kendrick or Ty Dolla Sign on stage would be legendary — Oh I see Kilo Kish is playing Sunday … hmmmmm ☺

Dirty Projectors 

They could be billed as Dirty Projector as only Dave is left, but that hasn’t stopped him from releasing the densest art pop record of the year. The simple narrative has stopped people from enjoying its depth. Check out the Song Exploder episode with Longstreth. Don’t expect a bunch of Bitte Orca jams, but still, seeing this new record come alive will be the R&B pop extravaganza you need right now. Plus watch the critical reception change toward this year’s record in ten years — guaranteed.

LCD Soundsystem

Although we are 18 months into their victory lap and still don’t have the promised record we do have two new jams from James Murphy and Co. that sound like U2, and in a way Bono is a good north star for James Murphy, they both say whatever they want and some people like it and some people don’t, plus I think there would be fewer complaints if the new LCD record showed up on everyone’s iPhone this fall without warning. LCD live is something to behold and whether or not you have seen Shut Up and Play the Hits, the Friday night closer will be a weekend highlight.

Frankie Cosmos

Frankie Cosmos is like the even-more-indie female Sufjan Stevens. She is prolific like Robert Pollard and soft and calm like Sam Beam. Take “Birthday”, a one minute song she released a few years ago. It takes cues from the early non-wasteful songwriting of Paul McCartney but also from girls in cafeterias with acoustic guitars nationwide. Frankie is a bit of an acquired taste and her vast discography can be intimidating getting prepped for a festival show, but her songs carry so much immediacy, I would wander over there even if you have never listened to a full record of hers.

George Clinton and Parliament 

Destined to be the “how on earth could so few people be here” set of the weekend, like when I saw Spiritualized with—no joke—200 people at Coachella 2013. George Clinton is a living legend and there is a zero percent chance this set will disappoint. Recent setlists look heavy with Funkadelic material. You could tell your kids about this set.


In the fall of 2013, I bought a bunch of cassettes from a Texas indie label, one of them turned out to be by S U R V I V E, a fantastic electronic collective too subtle to be popular and too good to headline an EDM stage. All of a sudden, their cryptic, skeletal beats found the perfect home with the breakout Netflix hit — Stranger Things — now all of a sudden, everyone was paying attention and they did not disappoint — releasing RR7349 their newest and best record last year. Based on video from Primavera at the Pitchfork stage, this will be the late afternoon sunset jams perfect for chilling out to.

Hamilton Leithauser

Although it went a bit under the radar, last year’s collab with Rostam contained some of their best work separately in a few years. As sad as it is that Vampire Weekend doesn’t have Rostam yet, Hamilton made good use of his production and songwriting talents, writing a record together in Rostam’s hometown, childhood bedroom. “1000 Times” is one of Leithauser’s best songs, Walkmen or solo, here’s to hoping he croons it in front of thousands.

Nicolas Jaar

You won’t need a quarter to scratch off the cover to see Nicolas Jaar’s set on Sunday. His microhouse, IDM, deep house grooves will be perfect for laying in the grass, calming down out of the sun and getting ready for Solange. His Youtube-released soundtrack Pomegranates was dense and alienated a few fans — but his full length follow up Sirens was the best electronic record you might not have heard last year.


Finally. Some good things take time, but for every Chinese Democracy, we also get a Wildflower. The plunderphonic, experimental hip-hop, second masterpiece in a row. In its own way, it is just as good as their classic first record Since I Left You, but since there was a 16-year gap, most aren’t willing to admit that just yet. Their recent setlists look packed with all of their best tracks. Here’s to hoping for a few special guests on stage. MF Doom anyone? Either way, Avalanches haven’t played Chicago in over a decade and it won’t disappoint.


If I could only see one set this summer at any festival in America or abroad it would be Solange in Chicago at Pitchfork Music Festival. One of the best records last year by any metric, political, and perfect, A Seat At The Table. Plus she has been playing songs on tour from her massively underrated True EP. “Cranes In the Sky” will soar across Union Park as the festival closer. Maybe someday soon someone will call Beyoncé Solange’s sister? OK, you’re right, that definitely won’t happen, but still.