2013 Pitchfork Primer – Youth Be Served, But Respect Your Elders

… it’s the freakin’ weekend baby, ‘m ’bout to have me some fun.  -r.kelly

20130710_pitchfork_91Yeah, it’s that time of year again.  Pitchfork’s showcase of young emerging artists blended with a nod to indie stalwarts and heroes of yesteryear.  Maybe more so than any year, the 2013 Pitchfork Festival illustrates the increased diversification and expansion of the indie online-periodical’s musical breadth.  Is this a good thing?  There are those who might claim Pitchfork has reached into realms outside its “proper reach” or beyond  the quirky, fan-boy zealotry for weirdo and curio bands, but I don’t know if I agree.  Music has right to all its children and over time tastes and predilections change.  But enough of that stuff, we can discuss this on the grass at Union Park.  In the meantime, some rather serious business is at hand.  Who should you go see at the Festival?  I’ll admit my unabashed school-boy enthusiasm to see Bjork for the first time after 20 years of hearing her on headphones.  Also, I can;t wait to see Stuart and co., aka Belle & Sebastian (or as my friend PG once dubbed them the Buena Vista Scottish Club) dance mirthfully dancing around on stage with that 60s baroque pop charm of theirs.  Or the grizzled vets like The Breeders (last time I saw them was in 1993!), Yo La Tengo, or Low, all of whom have made music for some time (ok Kim Deal and co. took some time off).  But, those guys you know….

What about the rest of the field?  I’ve got some suggestions (Don’t I always?).  Also for more details go to http://pitchforkmusicfestival.com/

Well, here are the 10 bands that I’m most eager to see:

Read below or listen along here:  Pitchkfork 2013 Primer: A Playlist

*(I recommend playing on shuffle)

Waxahatchee (Sunday 3:45 – Blue) – Katie Crutchfield’s work as Waxahatchee is a rare thing.  At one moment, it delivers a crushing blow to the gut with its lyrical sincerity and then evokes a euphoric impassioned angst the next minute.  In 2013, Katie (an Alabama native) has given us Cerulean Salt, my favorite 2013 record to date, a record that alternates between muzzled pop harmonies and raw-lo-fi punk-y folk/roots rock.  To the former, layer in Katie Crutchfield’s piercing and pleasing vocals and you have the perfect roller coaster ride of emotions to get you rolling around.

Angel Olsen (Friday 5:15 – Blue) – One of the most beautiful and captivating singers and songwriters I’ve heard in a long time.  I caught her sold out set at the Hideout (a small intimate corner of the world) in February and it was spellbinding.  Her sound is rooted in a/n America/na that is magical, otherworldly, and, at times, brutal and sad, yet authentic and redeeming, leaving you wanting more. 

Solange (Saturday 7:25 – Red) – Beyonce’s little sister certainly has the soul and voice to wow like her sister but she tends towards the slower grooves with a decidedly late 80s/early 90s pop R&B vibe.  Grab a girl or a boy and head over for a chill dance party break for the evening. . .

Savages (Saturday 4:15 – Green) –These English proto/post-punk rockers are loud, fast, and aggressive combing a little of the dark, relentless drone of Joy Division with the dance-like sensibility of Gang of Four but fronted by a Patti Smith sounding lead singer.  From all accounts they put on one of the best live shows.  I can’t wait! Note:  Bring earplugs and avoid the front (some slam-dancing likely)

Foxygen (Sunday 1:45 – Red) – The duo known as Foxygen come from another time or perhaps a world where time doesn’t exist because their music is rooted in a surreal past blending psychedelia and blues in such a pleasing way you wonder if you are dreaming.  Having seen them perform at Lincoln Hall earlier this year, I can tell you these gents are talented and brilliant live when they are on.  About half way through their set that night something was off and watching them deal with imperfection was a sight to behold.  For the flower-power kids this is your chance to spin and whirl like dervishes.  Drop in and tune out, man.

Autre Ne Veut  (Sunday 1:55 – Blue) – Another opportunity for grooving to some pleasant pop R&B.  Don’t worry.  You don’t need to get too low, move too fast, or juke for this kind of music.  It’s more of the close your eyes and just let Autre Ne Veut’s Prince-like falsetto serenade you and guide you through the early afternoon.

Julia Holter (Saturday 1:55 – Blue) – What does walking into a dream feel like?  For me the music of LA based experimental pop artist Julia Holter is just that.  Gorgeous gossamer layers of baroque pop juxtaposed with sparse classical-like compositions will get you floating into. . .

Chairlift (Sunday 5:45 – Blue) – Many people complain about 80s synth-based dance music.  I don’t understand what is wrong with them.  Perhaps they just dislike fun.  Chairlift’s sound is ecstatic, energetic, emotional, and ebullient, bursting through 808s or moogs, entreating you to let go and dance with abandon.  How can you resist?

Phosphorescent (Saturday 2:30 – Green) – Nestled somewhere between the languid and expansive rock of Joshua Tree era U2 and the southwestern flair of Calexico, Alabama native (that is two if you are counting at home) Matthew Houck’s music is reverie inducing and the perfect way to let the week and the world melt away.

Andy Stott (Saturday 7:45 – Blue) –Downtempo electronic music is still somewhat under-appreciated in the U.S.  People are never quite sure what to do with or how to move to it; at times it has a film soundtrack quality and at other times it seems almost sleep-inducing.  Watching English DJ Andy Stott spin could help ameliorate this problem.  His work is layered with pregnant beats and an unrelenting bass groove that keeps one constantly at attention.  By evening’s end you’ll likely find your shoulders and hips shaking. (Stream here on YouTube)

…and yes there is so, so much more and very talented artists I’ve missed, but that is what I’d recommend and will be prioritizing.  However if you want to see my full dance card day by day (which always makes me think of Godspell #musicaltheatregeek) see below.  Note: Bold denotes my can’t miss; Italics are also recommended.


3:20 Frankie Rose (BLUE) (Dream Pop)

4:35 Mac DeMarco (GREEN) (Folk Rock)

5:15 Angel Olsen (BLUE) (Americana Folk)

5:30 Woods (RED) (Neo Folk/Surf Rock)

6:15 Mikal Cronin (BLUE) (Pop/Surf Rock)

8:30 Björk (GREEN) (Sui Generis)



1:55 Julia Holter (BLUE) (Dream Pop)

2:30 Phosphorescent (GREEN) (Neo Folk)

2:50 Parquet Courts (BLUE) (Punk)

3:20 …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (RED) (Rock)

4:15 Savages (GREEN) (Post Punk)

6:15 The Breeders play Last Splash (GREEN) (Baroque Pop)

6:45 Low (BLUE) (Baroque Indie Rock)

7:25 Solange (RED) (Pop R&B)

7:45 Andy Stott (BLUE) (Downtempo/Electornic)

8:30 Belle & Sebastian (GREEN) (Baroque Pop)



1:00 DJ Rashad (BLUE)(Hip Hop)

1:45 Foxygen (RED) (Psychedelic)

1:55 Autre Ne Veut (BLUE) (R&B)

2:50 Blood Orange (BLUE) (R&B)

3:45 Waxahatchee (BLUE) (Folk/Punk/Lo-Fi Rock)

4:15 Yo La Tengo (GREEN) (Baroque Indie)

4:45 Sky Ferreira (BLUE)(Pop)

5:45 Chairlift (BLUE)(Indie/Baroque Pop)

7:25 M.I.A. (RED)(Hip Hop/R&B)

8:30 R. Kelly (GREEN) (Hip Hop/R&B)


Bounce, bounce…. 



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