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Pitchfork Music Festival Wed Jul 16 2014

Our Picks for Pitchfork Fest 2014

By Transmission Staff

pitchfork2014.jpgWhere does a year go? It seems that we were just getting over sunburns and rubbing the baseball diamond dust from our eyes as we stumbled to work on a misty Monday morn in late July. But no, it has come around again: the last days before the Pitchfork Music Festival.

Thankfully, it seems that Mother Nature got all the rain out of her system last weekend, and we're settling in for a lovely few days in Chicago. Come on and see what we're most excited to hear with our staff's picks for Pitchfork sets you won't want to miss.

At the festival, don't forget to stop by and say hi at our table at the CHIRP Record Fair! We'll have buttons, posters, I ✶ Chi shirts and more!

Pitchfork Sky_9333292936_m.jpg
Memories of Pitchfork 2013 (photo by Joshua Mellin)


3:30pm - Hundred Waters (Red)
It's 3:30, and the first set of the fest is upon us. Why, you ask, should you show up early at the fest's gates to catch this particular group? Hundred Waters is, without a doubt, comprised of the most interesting sound I have heard in some time. The harmonies that the group is able to produce are ethereal and effortless, and other-worldly a la Bjork or Baths with a beautiful difference that is all their own. Their sophomore release, The Moon Rang Like A Bell, is among my favorite albums of the year. See this group for a sonic experience that is like none other, that will reverberate into your soul and last, and last.
- Sarah Brooks

4:35pm - Neneh Cherry with Rocketnumbernine (Green)
Neneh Cherry with Rocketnumbernine: The idea of pairing the iconic club singer Neneh Cherry with experimental, beat-driven electronic free jazz unit Rocketnumbernine. However, if you know Cherry's work prior to her international breakout hit "Buffalo Stance," she started her career in post-punk "mutant funk" units like Rip Rig and Panic and Float Up CP, which offered musical contexts in which her supple yet aggressive vocals could spar wildly against braying brass flourishes and choked guitar splinters. The group accompanied Cherry on a track from her album, Blank Project, leading to several collaborative live shows. And yes, there's a good chance they'll perform "Buffalo Stance," as they did in the clip below.
- Chris Sienko

5:15pm - The Haxan Cloak (Blue)
The word Haxan is Swedish for "Witch." In the context of one-man "orchestral metal" purveyor Bobby Kirlic, Haxan Cloak is likely also an allusion to the legendary silent film, "Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages," later revived for '60s hippie audiences (with the addition of narration by that alternate prince of darkness, William S. Burroughs) looking for a glimpse into historic darkness. Haxan Cloak spins a similarly funereal aura with his combination of strings (played by Kirlic himself), electronics, and other evil sound generators. His latest endeavor was 2013's Excavation, and in 2014, he joined current doom metal darlings TheBbody for their album, I Shall Die Here. If you care to drink deep of the darkness, check out this clip from Pitchfork's festival over in Paris.
- Chris Sienko

5:30pm - Sharon Van Etten (Red)
Sharon Van Etten knows exactly how to hit you where it hurts. Even saying that is under playing her ability to write fantastic songs about the precariousness of love. Van Etten is seemingly ever self-confessional, tenderly touching upon moments that most people would shy away from. Her latest album, Are We There, presents Van Etten at the height of her lyrical, musical, and emotional talents. It would certainly be impossible not to sink in to her sound and come out of it feeling a little luckier to have seen her perform.
- Julian Ramirez

6:15pm - SZA (Blue)
As TDE's only leading lady, SZA has more than earned her spot in the new school of dark, breathy R&B alongside Banks, Kelela and Jhene Aiko. Though her debut, Z, was perhaps a tad unfocused, it sure didn't lack in the pure, sonic enjoyment department. With a pure, almost innocent voice that floats through the music, SZA may be just the ticket when you need a chilled-out set to cool your summer's day.
- Emma Gase

6:25pm - Sun Kil Moon (Green)
Trying to sell your friends on the "devastating," "relentless" but "increasingly rewarding" (you swear!) new record from Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon project, the staggering Benji, might be an uphill climb (note: maybe don't tell them that one of the only tracks not focusing on the death of one of Kozelek's loved ones is a track about the Newtown massacre), but they'll be missing out on a heady shot of hard-won catharsis if they snooze on his set on the Green stage on Friday. Benji's tracks are as evocative and funny as they are unsparingly intimate, and Kozelek's hyper-real doses of Rust Belt malaise, interspersed with his own unflinching memories and regrets, offer glimpses of an inner world richly populated with tragic figures, the least of whom emerges as Kozelek himself. The guy conjures more emotional depth from early memories listening to Pink Floyd's "Dogs" (see a live take below) or watching the towering Zeppelin myth-flick The Song Remains The Same than anyone else ever could, and it is thrilling to see him at the top of his game more than twenty years into his career.
- Mike Bellis

7:20pm - Giorgio Moroder (Red)
Giorgio Moroder's had a wonderful career spanning 40+ years and was lucky enough to not just be at the forefront of electronic music, but to make a significant impact on it. His synth-heavy approach to early disco is responsible for numerous hits and his scoring is crucial to many of the films he worked on (i.e., Midnight Express, Flashdance). But despite his long career, it's only in the last few years that he's been DJing live. Luckily, he's making up for lost time with healthy doses of the hits. (Coincidentally, one of his biggest hits was Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," which happens to be a song that Beck's been covering at recent shows.)
- James Ziegenfus

8:30pm - Beck (Green)
You would have to be a full-fledged loser to willingly miss Beck's closing set on Friday. Beck is sure to bring a plethora of hits that span his 29-year career, as well as newer tunes from his 12th studio album, Morning Phase. It was released last February and received overwhelming praise from critics for its optimistic melodies. This most recent addition to Beck's lengthy chronology showcases his softer side, which is a far cry from the gritty sounds of his earlier work. That being said, the genre-bending musician is easily one of the most talented headliners to grace Union Park with his rare presence.
- Brianna Kelly


1:00pm - Twin Peaks (Green)
Set your alarm early Saturday morning, because you'll want to get to Union Park right when it opens to catch Twin Peaks. There's been a handful of raucous lo-fi garage rock bands coming out of Chicago in the past couple years who've been getting a lot of attention (see: White Mystery, Smith Westerns, and The Orwells) and Twin Peaks is next on the list. These Rogers Park natives have been friends since childhood and, having just turned 20, they're just about to release their first full-length record, Wild Onion. The last time I caught Twin Peaks live one of the guys in the band had a broken leg and had to play the show sitting in a chair on the corner of the stage, and the guy was still straight-up railing on his guitar with as much energy as ever. Catch them now while they're still on the verge of blowing up.
- Stephanie Griffin

1:55pm - Circulatory System (Blue)
While Neutral Milk Hotel may be the main Elephant 6 attraction at this years Pitchfork, fans of the collective's body of work would do well to check out Circulatory System, featuring former Olivia Tremor Control member Will Cullen Hart. Circulatory System's music is well crafted psychedelia, owing a perhaps understandable debt to the sort of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles that informs much of the work of Elephant 6 umbrella bands. A theoretically possible cameo by occasional collaborator Jeff Mangum could add to interest in this early set.
- Dan Snedigar

3:20pm - Cloud Nothings (Red)
Cloud Nothings play a brash indie-rock that over their last two albums has skewed toward pop-punk and melodic hardcore. (It's hard to hear Attack on Memory and not think of some Dischord bands.) The manic sense of urgency in their music, as if they can't wait to spit out their next idea, has worked so well on record and at shows. Their set in the pouring rain at Pitchfork two years ago was a weekend highlight. And they should be near the top of the to-see list for those who like loud guitar music since there isn't a lot else of that on this year's lineup.
- James Ziegenfus

4:15pm - Pusha T (Green)
The Clipse have been broken up for a few years now. It was difficult at the time, and keeping it real I miss them. Together they created hypnotically vivid imagery about the morally ambiguous pursuit of an ultimately irretrievable and irreparably broken American Dream. In hindsight though, it makes sense. Hell Hath No Fury may go down as their finest hour and more or less was their logical endpoint. Since then, Malice found Jesus and Pusha T found Kanye. Since signing to GOOD as a solo artist, Pusha has kept busy, releasing numerous mixtapes as well as his acclaimed debut album, My Name is My Name. His intensely charismatic and scene stealing performance on Future's "Move That Dope" finds the rapper in the midst of a breakthrough moment; discovering the balance between Clipse era uncompromising underclass narratives and Kanye inspired pop sensibilities.
- Justin Freeman

5:15pm - Tune-Yards (Red)
After the release of their latest studio album Nikki Nack, Tune-Yards has proved they're the queen and king infectious Afro-inspired rhythms. The experimental brainchild of frontwoman Merrill Garbus radiates positive energy through both music and stage presence. She loops heavy drums and layers them with whimsical vocals and dreamy ukulele strumming as Nate Brenner, Garbus' lesser-known counterpart, casually plucks and slaps his bass in the background. The duo has created a truly original sound that's unlike any other in today's music industry. Tune-Yards was one of Pitchfork 2011's standout acts, so this set is not to be missed.
- Brianna Kelly

6:15pm - Danny Brown (Green)
Detroit's Danny Brown represents a good choice for a Pitchfork-approved rapper. A somewhat familiar-feeling backstory including a stint drug-dealing and in prison belie creative lyrics and production that support an ascendant career. Brown's lyrics are often off-the-wall weird, and smart enough to have begun building a pretty hipster audience. This year has seen Brown make his network TV debut on Fallon's show, and an opening spot for Eminem before a sold out Wembley Stadium. A must catch for rap aficionados looking for a glimpse of the next big thing.
- Dan Snedigar

6:45pm - The Field (Blue)
Born in Stolkholm and living in Berlin, The Field (who signs his checks with the name Axel Willner) brings his ambient soundscapes to the Blue stage on Saturday just as the sun will be dipping low in the sky and casting long shadows through the trees. The DJ made fans very happy already this year with a Record Store Day release of his debut album From Here We Go Sublime on vinyl. Grab a spot and enjoy the set with a friend. Don't expect hard thumps or dub steps, but let your mind wander and take a break from the chaos around you with The Field.
- Anne Holub

7:25pm - St. Vincent (Red)
Is it adorable or a little ego showing through that St. Vincent's website is Does it matter? There's probably not another performer at Pitchfork that's received more joyful noise from prospective attendees. The man on the street worships her, the lady on the street has a serious lady crush. After a riveting collaboration album with David Byrne in 2012 (Love This Giant), her saintliness released a new self-titled album that falls right in line with the sound we've grown to love. Songs are full of horns and beats and near-falsetto singing that brings to mind '80s favorites like the Eurythmics at Annie Lennox's most wonderful (with similarly enviable cheekbones and hairdos). This isn't St. Vincent's first trip to Union Park, and we loved her back in 2010 (this photo by George Aye for Gapers Block is still one of my all time favorites.)
- Anne Holub

7:45pm - FKA Twigs (Blue)
FKA Twigs is the brainchild of Tahliah Barnett, London-based Jamaican native. Barnett was writing songs at the early age of 16, and self-released her first album via Bandcamp. Her impressive musicality is evident in her single "Two Weeks," which features lush atmospheric backdrops with stunning vocals. The sound is comprised of intricate beats and interesting vocal layering which will undoubtedly shine in a live setting: some of it lovely, some of it haunting, some of it downright eccentric and intriguing. I have no doubt that FKA Twigs will play for sold out crowds and amass a wider audience as time moves forward.
- Sarah Brooks

8:30pm - Neutral Milk Hotel (Green)
Neutral Milk Hotel's absence from the music scene is the stuff of legends. After releasing two of the best albums of the last couple decades,On Avery Island and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel all but fell off the edge of the music scene. The next dozen or so years made it seem like Neutral Milk Hotel had met its end, baring the sparse recordings with other bands and even rarer live appearances. Thankfully, Mangum and the rest of the In the Aeroplane Over the Sea lineup reunited and have been touring since late 2013, making a two night stop in Chicago earlier this year. They have somehow managed to capture the aura of Neutral Milk Hotel in their prime. No one really know what the future holds for this reunion, so it's imperative that don't miss the opportunity to see this incredibly influential band as the sun sets this Saturday.
- Julian Ramirez


1:00pm - Speedy Ortiz (Blue)
Northampton's Speedy Ortiz make their Pitchfork debut this year as Sunday's first act, bringing their buzzy, 90s-inflected rock to the Blue stage at 1pm. Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis has already won comparisons to luminaries ranging from Mary Timony, Stephen Malkmus and Guyville-era Liz Phair, but her laconic wit and knotty wordplay do more than just conjure up the ghosts of indie rock past. To wit: check out the video below for a live-in-studio take on "American Horror" off their recently released (and excellent) Real Hair EP, and prepare to kick off Sunday with one of the more confident new voices you're likely to hear all weekend.
- Mike Bellis

2:30pm - Deafheaven (Green)
Last year, Sunbather seemingly came out of nowhere and was suddenly everywhere. It was a luminously dark album as unclean death growls merged almost seamlessly with starkly beautiful shoegaze metal instrumentals. It makes sense that local post-metal veterans, Russian Circles, took the young band under their wing as they toured together a few years ago. Deafheaven are an excellent soundtrack to a hazy bout of insomnia and I wouldn't have it any other way.
- Justin Freeman

3:45pm - Dum Dum Girls (Blue)
Dum Dum Girls' music has really changed over the past couple years. The lo-fi aspects of their garage pop have been traded in for a much cleaner and leaner sound. Luckily, the band not only maintained their overwhelming confidence, but let it grow exponentially. When playing live, Dee Dee and her crew are determined to woo you with their dreamy lyrics and an overwhelming confidence. Their songs, whether it's the feverish "He Gets me High" or the fragile "Coming Down", are ideal for a summer festival like Pitchfork.
- Julian Ramirez

4:15pm - Schoolboy Q (Green)
Schoolboy Q is a collaborator. From tracks where he has worked with Kendrick Lamar, Curren$y, A$AP Rocky, SZA, Two Chainz, Tyler, The Creator, and even samples from indie folk songstress Lissie, he has showcased his sound as one that utilizes the power of collaboration to create musical magic. His individual songs showcase his intricate flow, which he has truly honed in on leading up to his third album release this past year. If you're looking for a bit of a rowdier crowd, to sway and move to the beat undoubtedly, then this is the set for you. Schoolboy Q has come a long way in his musical craft, and I'm thinking he's going to bring out a special guest or two for his set.
- Sarah Brooks

5:15pm - Real Estate (Red)
Real Estate's music is generally about as edgy as a marshmallow, but the breezy intricacy of their songs should sound great floating through the summer air like cottonwood seeds. Drawing influence from a variety of acts on the mellow side of the early '90s, the Brooklyn and New Jersey based outfit notched a critically acclaimed debut with their eponymous first album, and recently released their third record Atlas. Not a band to be dismissed, these Pitchfork 2010 veterans should prove to be a perfectly cool warmup for Slowdive.
- Dan Snedigar

5:45pm - Majical Cloudz (Blue)
Majical Cloudz first came under my radar after frontman Devon Welsh was featured on Grimes' "Nightmusic", one of the stand-out tracks from her 2012 release Visions. Once their album Impersonator was released in 2013, it quickly rose to the top of my yearly best-of list. The band has a minimalistic approach to music relying mostly on Devon's haunting vocals accompanied by nominal synths, the silence between notes and lyrics sometimes carrying as much weight as the music itself. I have some reservations about their Pitchfork performance, as I recall Joanna Newsom's quiet set being ruined by crowd chatter at the festival in 2013 and fear Majical Cloudz's bare bones music might suffer the same fate. That being said, I've never seen a Majical Cloudz performance where every single person in the audience wasn't completely enraptured by them, so I won't let my qualms about large festival crowds crush my excitement for the opportunity to catch them live once again.
- Stephanie Griffin

6:15pm - Slowdive (Green)
Slowdive's heyday came about during the early '90s, with the slow and somber wave of British shoegaze bands that washed over an American audience that embraced the style as a less aggro, somewhat twee alternative to grunge's dominance. Through an almost Spinal Tap-esque litany of mistimings and label choke-jobs, Slowdive never quite gained the fame of contemporaries like Ride, but was never short on talent. After Slowdive collapsed in the late '90s, some of the founding members went on to form the (again) criminally underappreciated Mojave 3, continuing to put out great, but relatively obscure music. With some U.S. festival dates, and a just-announced fall tour, Slowdive now has another bite at the apple, offering music that can appeal to the now 40-ish first wave fans and nostalgists, but certainly stand on it's own and hopefully win younger converts.
- Dan Snedigar

6:45pm - DJ Spinn (Blue)
Frankie Knuckles was a Chicagoan and was considered to be one of the chief architects of house music. He tragically passed away earlier this year. DJ Rashad was also a Chicagoan and was considered to be one of the driving forces of footworking and juke. He also passed away earlier this year. Needless to say, 2014 so far has been terrible for influential Chicago DJs. Before he died, DJ Rashad was booked to perform at Pitchfork. His spot was taken by a close friend and frequent collaborator of his, DJ Spinn. I'm not entirely sure what to expect, but I kinda hope for a celebration of where Chicago electronic music has been as well as a master class on where its going.
- Justin Freeman

7:25pm - Grimes (Red)
Chicago was spoiled with Grimes appearances following the release of her 2012 album Visions — with shows at Empty Bottle, Logan Square Auditorium, Metro and a headlining set at Pitchfork that same year. We hadn't heard much from her since then, besides the release of her new summer jam "Go," originally written for Rhianna but kept for herself when Rhianna turned it down, and a collaboration with fun.'s Jack Antonoff and his new band Bleachers, which was just released this week. This summer's Pitchfork festival will be a welcome return for the synth pop singer, with hopefully some new cuts from her upcoming release, due out in September. Grimes' last Pitchfork headlining performance including back-up dancing by Chicago seapunks Molly Soda and Claire Van Eijk, and she loves supporting local artists while on tour. I'll be excited to see what surprises she has up her sleeve this time around.
- Stephanie Griffin

8:30pm - Kendrick Lamar (Green)
At this point, does one need to elaborate on the reasons to see Kendrick Lamar live anymore? He's one of the biggest names in hip hop right now, with the rare debut that actually matched up to the hype. He proved that he could make any performance bristle with intensity when he steam-rolled expectations at the Grammys by performing to great effect with One Republic. He's toured with Yeezus, been endorsed and brought up by now-billionare Dr. Dre, and legitimately set the rap world on fire with one single verse on a track that was never even officially released. Suffice it to say if Lamar brings even an ounce of his charisma to Chicago (which, no doubt he will), catching this headliner set should be priority A1. But really, at this point, all we'd all like to know is: Where's that sophomore album, Kendrick?
- Emma Gase

Pitchfork Music Festival Schedule 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014
3:30pm - Hundred Waters (Red Stage)
4:15pm - Factory Floor (Blue Stage)
4:35pm - Neneh Cherry with Rocketnumbernine (Green Stage)
5:15pm - The Haxan Cloak (Blue)
5:30pm - Sharon Van Etten (Red)
6:15pm - Sza (Blue)
6:25pm - Sun Kil Moon (Green)
7:15pm - Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks (Blue)
7:20pm - Giorgio Moroder (Red)
8:30pm - Beck (Green)

Saturday, July 19, 2014
1:00pm - Twin Peaks (Green)
1:45pm - KA (Red)
1:55pm - Circulatory System (Blue)
2:30pm - Wild Beasts (Green)
2:50pm - Empress Of (Blue)
3:20pm - Cloud Nothings (red)
3:45pm - Mas Ysa (Blue)
4:15pm - Pusha T (Green)
4:45pm - The Range (Blue)
5:15pm - Tune-Yards (Red)
5:45pm - Kelela (Blue)
6:15pm - Danny Brown (Green)
6:45pm - The Field (Blue)
7:25pm - St. Vincent (Red)
7:45pm - FKA Twigs (Blue)
8:30pm - Neutral Milk Hotel (Green)

Sunday, July 20, 2014
1:00pm - Speedy Ortiz (Blue)
1:00pm - Mutual Benefit (Green)
1:45pm - DIIV (Red)
1:55pm - Perfect Pussy (Blue)
2:30pm - Deafheaven (Green)
2:50pm - Isaiah Rashad (Blue)
3:20pm - Earl Sweatshirt (Red)
3:45pm - Dum Dum Girls (Blue)
4:15pm - Schoolboy Q (Green)
4:45pm - Jon Hopkins (Blue)
5:15pm - Real Estate (Red)
5:45pm - Majical Cloudz (Blue)
6:15pm - Slowdive (Green)
6:45pm - DJ Spinn (Blue)
7:25pm - Grimes (Red)
7:45pm - Hudson Mohawke (Blue)
8:30pm - Kendrick Lamar (Green)

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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