Pitchfork 2019 Preview

Authors: Tyler Dallman and Jocelyn Ostrowski

We’re going to Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend and we’re so excited!!  Check out some of the shows that we are most excited about.

 

FRIDAY

 

Low

Minnesotan duo Low has been a staple of slowcore since their inception in 1993– Particularly their albums I Could Live In Hope and Things We Lost In The Fire are considered by many to be one of the pinnacles of lessons in restraint. They call forth just the bare necessities required to create a song, with drums consisting of barely more than ride cymbal and snare, and the haunting vocal harmonies of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker taking up most of the sonic range. Though their early albums are considered some of the highlights of their work, the band has a discography as consistent as it is extensive, made up of 10 EPs and 12 full lengths, every one a work of art. Their most recent release, Double Negative, is a contrast to all of this. The album drips in electronics and harsh noise, the vocals are processed and diluted, the album explodes at times; it’s everything the rest of their discography is not. Low would be a highlight to see at any time in their career, and this recent dark horse gives more of a reason than ever.

-Tyler

 

Earl Sweatshirt

Made famous at only age 16 from his young talents within Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt has evolved into a truly prestigious avant-garde hip hop icon.  Ironically, it is his modesty that charges his records and really rose him to fame within the music community. Earl has never been one to put himself into the spotlight, contrary to other members of the Odd Future Gang.  Instead, he raps quietly but strongly, with a flow that commands to be listened to in an undertone fashion. While Earl has been critically praised from the start, it was his most recent album, Some Rap Songs, that really set him apart from the rest of the rap scene.  With somber lyrics, heavy production, and jazz influences (which is especially notable given his family ties to South African jazz artists), Some Rap Songs was a critical turning point in his career, and I am so eager to see what he does with it on stage.

-Jocelyn

 

Julia Holter

Julia Holter’s 2018 release Aviary is described by her to be a distorted and noisy representation of memory, and on the album the bird-like calls of horns and bagpipes invade whatever mental space one was in prior to hitting play. The music is chaotic, yet cerebral, and Holter soars over every disjointed rhythm and out-of-key passage with her ever beautiful keys and singing. I was able to see her and the band in Minneapolis earlier this year at the Turf Club, and the live performance translated her music in a way I didn’t think was possible. Every piece was interlocked, arrangements were changed to better fit a live setting, Holter nailed all of the highest notes, and the live cello and trumpet provided a timbre that pushed the show into another realm of interesting. I can’t wait to see them again this weekend.

-Tyler

 

SATURDAY

 

Parquet Courts

Based in Austin Texas, Parquet Courts (occasionally known by Parkay Quarts) is one of the most notable post-punk revival bands of the decade.  Their latest album, Wide Awake! was one of my very favorite albums of 2018! (which is saying a lot because that field was insanely impressive) In many of their albums, Wide Awake! in particular, the band blends the musical with the political effortlessly.  Taking on themes like American violence, radical alt-right politics, economic uncertainty, and everything in between (“F*** Tom Brady!”), Andrew Savage and the rest of the group produce a result that is thoughtful and not at all pander-y, while delivering it perfectly, making them an essential listen for punk-heads and activists alike!  This band holds a special place in my heart, as they were one of the first groups that transitioned me into the ~indie sphere~, so high school me might come out in spirit during the show.

-Jocelyn

 

CHAI

One of the most memorable music experiences I’ve had in the past few years was when after a fast funky punk tune, all of the members of CHAI put down their instruments, came to the front of the stage in the tiny club they were playing, and did an acapella rendition of Dancing Queen by ABBA (with choreography). The crowd went wild. Perhaps the most amazing part about Chai is that they consistently prove to be greater than the sum of their parts. Now plenty of bands can prove that, but the sheer amount of parts and the uniqueness of Chai make it that much more impressive. Everything, from their proficiency in jazz-funk grooves, their ability to transition said grooves into scorching punk bridges, the speed at which lead vocalist Mana spits out verses, the messages in their lyrics about being confident in one’s own self-image, and the bubblegum j-pop presentation in their outfits and performance make for a true “show”.

-Tyler

 

The Isley Brothers

One of the most important and influential soul and funk groups of all time. The group started out as a vocal trio with three Isley brothers and over the course of their 65 year career, they’ve gone through many lineup changes, with only lead vocalist Ronald Isley staying consistent. He’s been the driving force behind 32 studio albums, with 9 of those going at least Platinum in the US. Forever funky and impossibly smooth, the Isley Brothers will continue the Pitchfork tradition of having a legendary jazz/funk headliner for one of the days, joining the likes of Chaka Kahn, George Clinton, and Sun Ra.

-Tyler

 

 

 

 

SUNDAY

 

Robyn

8 years after her last album, “Body Talk Pt 2”, indie-pop sensation Robyn made her return with “Honey”.  Robyn is just as much of an electronic artist as she is a pop artist, crafting songs that are equally fitting for dancing at a European night club, or just in your room.  For reference: see the absolutely ICONIC scene from the show “Girls” of Hannah and Marnie dancing to “Dancing on My Own”. Also see: Robyn’s equally iconic music video to “Call Your Girlfriend”.  Shot in one continuous take, she dances alone in a warehouse, leaving nothing else to distract you from the absolutely amazing and emotional choreography, which fits with the mood of the song perfectly: slightly painful, but completely powerful.  Those two songs were essential to the soundtrack of my middle school years, but even all this time later, I feel just as connected to Robyn’s new music in “Honey”.

-Jocelyn

 

black midi

Some Facts about Black Midi: Other than Bmbmbm, all Black Midi songs were untitled until midway through this year; At SXSW on a 90 degree day, vocalist Geordie Greep came out to their set in a trenchcoat and took it off to reveal dress clothes underneath, and put the trenchcoat back on at the end of their set; All of the bands’ press photos have them in matching outfits of different professions (race car drivers, surgeons, knights, etc), but each member wears different outfits during live shows; The band has barely any social media presence in this era where it is king; The band is from London and they’ve used a German word for their debut album. I don’t know what any of this means exactly, but I do know that their music reflects it. It is chaotic and filled with energy. There are sections of prog, metal, blues, country, and noise and they all flow together naturally. One moment will sound like the ramblings of a madman, and the next will have a subtle acoustic guitar groove. All while the members flail about the stage. This band somehow made it big and they deserve it every bit.

-Tyler

 

Snail Mail

No matter where you are in your life, Snail Mail can transport you to a time of major transition, whether it be the fall of a relationship, moving across the country to a new life, or just reaching a period of personal growth.  Two years after releasing her debut EP “Habit” at only 17, Snail Mail has become an indie sensation, with her first full length album, “Lush” receiving much critical acclaim. To go on and on about the insanity of her age is a disservice, because she needs no category of comparisons to box herself into.  (as seen in the many articles something along the lines of…oh my god! A young indie singer/songwriter, she must be the new Liz Phair!) However, there is something about the voice of someone closer to your own age that helps you truly connect to the lyrics that you are hearing. In a time of ghost writing and often obviously ingenuine products within the music world, Snail Mail provides the exact opposite: a fresh, new take on classic indie singer/songwriter music.  Most importantly, she just released a version of one of her songs, Pristine, in “Simlish”.

-Jocelyn

 

JPEGMAFIA

JPEGMAFIA is an experimental rapper and producer living in Baltimore, MD.   Notably, JPEG is also a former veteran and current activist, which frequently shines through in his music, in songs like “I Cannot F***ing Wait Til Morissey Dies”.  Blending traditional aspects of hip hop and noise/glitch hop, JPEG taps into the strange world of the dark internet, which goes along with his exploration and critique of the alt-right side of politics.  I had the absolute pleasure of seeing him in Milwaukee earlier this year while he was on tour with another one of my favorite rappers, Vince Staples. Of course I had high expectations, but I was completely blown away by his non-stop energy and impeccable delivery.  Accompanied only by his laptop, he belted every single line to his songs, giving us takes on the songs that were completely different than the recordings, which was super exciting. With the last performance still fresh in my mind I am absolutely thrilled to watch JPEG hopefully put on just as good of a show this weekend.

-Jocelyn