By: Will Mandel
My first venture to Pitchfork was last year. I had never been to a music festival, and started off a bit overwhelmed (and, admittedly, dirty from the Yaeji pit). But once I got a handle on the festival lifestyle, I ended up having a fantastic time. This year, I’m thrilled to be headed back to Union Park for WSUM, and this time, I’m prepared. Here are the acts I’m most excited to see and some listening recs from their discographies!
Indigo De Souza
I really hadn’t listened to Indigo De Souza until this year, and now I’m kicking myself for not doing so sooner. Singer-songwriters have had me in a choke hold for the whole summer—Clairo, Faye Webster, and Sidney Gish, to be specific—and Indigo De Souza has slotted into that rotation perfectly. Her music is noisier than the aforementioned artists, but it’s more than welcome. Gutsy guitar riffs are often paired with a sort of half-yell half-belt half-warble (I am not a math major) that form a perfect blend over any given track’s percussion. This high-energy combo doesn’t distract from her lyrics, which never hesitate to add a little melancholy (Sick in the Head’s “Our bodies are warped and bent / And now we are blue / I go back to that house sometimes / Hoping I run into you” stands out). No matter how many times I listen, I just can’t seem to get bored of her voice.
Track recommendations: Good Heart, Sick in the Head, Kill Me
Ever since I watched Whack World for the first time, I’ve been in love with Tierra Whack’s style. While that 2018 release still holds up, she’s been busy since then: she was named to XXL’s 2019 Freshman Class, did a track for the Pokemon Movie soundtrack, and starred in a LEGO campaign. Of course, she’s released her own music during that time too, dropping a single every now and then. Her most recent work, the EP trio titled “Rap?”, “Pop”, and “R&B?”, shows off the versatility she’s honed over the years, bouncing between genres with ease. But anyone who’s followed her for a while isn’t surprised by her seemingly boundless creativity. She’s been doing this for forever. Don’t believe me? Look up Dizzle Dizz.
Track recommendations: Dora, Wasteland, literally all of Whack World
My introduction to Lucy Dacus came through boygenius, the (often incredibly sad) trio of her, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker. I had heard a fair bit of Phoebe (this was post-Punisher), but watching their Tiny Desk Concert for the first time moved me in a way music rarely does on the first listen. I admittedly haven’t spent as much time with Dacus’ music as I should since then, but I did get the chance to see her perform in Milwaukee this Valentine’s Day. My ankle was broken at the time, so when Lucy came out on stage and announced that she’d be singing from a couch due to back issues, it suddenly felt a little less stupid to be sitting on a chair (crutches in hand). I love her ability to put forth conflicting emotions with just a few words (Night Shift’s “I feel no need to forgive, but I might as well” is a great example), and her voice is always a treat, gently gliding against instrumentals that range from gentle guitar strumming to punchy, energetic riffs. Looking forward to seeing her again, ankle intact this time!
Track recommendations: Kissing Lessons, Hot & Heavy, Brando
15-year old me watched Injury Reserve’s “Oh Shit!!!” music video once. Then again. Then again. Parker Corey’s production never disappoints, even as the group has shifted to a more unique sound on their most recent album. The group was founded in 2013 by Corey, Ritchie with a T, and Stepa J. Groggs, and released a slew of EPs until their 2019 self-titled debut. I loved that album (still do!), and their prior discography was a big part of why I fell in love with hip-hop. Their hooks are catchy, and Groggs and Ritchie have an arsenal of flows that make every track fun (Three Man Weave is a perfect example of this). They’re not quite the same as they were back then. Groggs tragically passed in 2020, cuing an immediate outpouring of love from the underground (and mainstream) community. While the Injury Reserve of today isn’t exactly like the Injury Reserve that I first heard, I trust that Parker Corey and Ritchie with a T will carry on Groggs’ legacy, and I’m excited to see them perform.
Track recommendations: Oh Shit!!!, Three Man Weave, S On Ya Chest
I have something to confess:
In 2015, I thought Earl Sweatshirt sucked. I told a friend as much, and his response was “You just don’t get it”. I’m sure I rolled my eyes and threw on some of the (terrible, horrible, soulless, essentially unlistenable for me at this point) EDM I was obsessed with at the time. Inexcusable, but hey, I was 14.
Things have changed since then. Notably, I am no longer 14, and with a slightly more developed frontal lobe, I’ve come to see the light. I should clarify that I came around on Earl far earlier than this year; probably around 2017 or so, or whenever it was that someone showed me Oldie for the first time. From his Odd Future days to albums like Titanic and Some Rap Songs, Earl has put on an absolute masterclass. Doris, released in 2013, is an extremely polished work for a 19 year old, and it was only up from there. The replayability of his music is astounding, with something new to be appreciated on each listen. This is especially true for Some Rap Songs, my favorite of his. I was supposed to see Earl earlier this year, but that concert got canceled after Action Bronson had some wisdom teeth issues. Can’t wait to finally make it happen.
Track recommendations: Molasses, Wool, The Mint