Pitchfork Music Festival: A RH Guide

Pitchfork Music Festival is back this month, from July 19 – 21 in Union Park featuring act like Pusha-T, Earl Sweatshirt, Freddie Gibbs, Dreezy and Tasha to just name a few. Tickets are available here. I think that out of all of the festivals that take place in Chicago over the summer Pitchfork is probably my favorite. I like that it’s small, self-contained within Union Park so you don’t spend all day walking back and forth between stages as you do at most festivals and you can take the Green Line there. I like that it’s highly curated. No shots at the bigger, broader festivals but Pitchfork actually feels like there is a target audience and sound that they’re trying to bring to their festival. I also like that they take risks (most of the time). A lot of festivals get caught up in streaming numbers and social media followers but Pitchfork each year brings in smaller upcoming artists who bring something completely new to the stage. From a rap fan perspective this year isn’t last year, but how could it be? Last year’s festival brought out some of the biggest names not just in Hip Hop but in Chicago Hip Hop. That being said this year is far from weak. So in this article I’m going to lay out where you should be when, and then I’ll also show you why.

Friday

Rico Nasty – 2:45-3:30pm

I’m so excited about this one. Rico Nasty is one of the rawest emcees out right now. Her last project Anger Management is a perfect representation of what she’s about. High energy, boastful, aggressive and blinged out with insane metallic beats from Kenny Beats. I’m a little confused at why she’s so early in the day but fuck it that’s a great way to start a festival off.

Valee – 3:20-4:10pm

One of the biggest names in Chicago Hip Hop, Valee’s unique flow has been bit in every possible way since he busted on to the scene a couple of years ago. If you’re reading this then there’s a 100% chance you know who Valee is and you know that this is a dope opportunity to catch him at a hometown festival, but just in case here’s “Womp Womp” to remind you.

Earl Sweatshirt – 5:15-6:10pm

At just 25 Earl Sweatshirt has already been in the national spotlight for nearly a decade. Since his Odd Future beginning to the #FreeEarl era and then finally where he is now. His music is reclusive and experiemental, the last two albums I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside and last year’s Some Rap Songs find Earl really pushing the limits of what rap is and who he is as a human and an artist.

Pusha-T – 6:15-7:15pm

25 years of rapping about coke and he still hasn’t run out of new ways to talk about it. Pusha-T is a legend, his album last year was one of the best of the summer and he eviscerated Drake in their beef. What else do you need to know? This is going to be a massive performance and a great way to end the day in rap.

Mavis Staples – 7:25-8:25pm

Mavis Staples is the most iconic artist at Pitchfork this year. This is an artist with a legacy bigger than most who has influenced rap music by being extensively sampled throughout the history of rap. The Staples Singers are probably your grandma’s favorite band and your mom definitely got down to some solo Mavis in her day. This is one of the true queens of Soul and you really shouldn’t leave early.

Saturday

Ric Wilson – 1:45-2:25pm

Ric Wilson is a great representative of the newest wave in Chicago’s renaissance. He’s a great performer with crazy high energy (and a whole lot of soul trains) and his music is positive and progressive. This is a great way to start off day two. Shake the fatigue from the day before off with Ric Wilson in the early afternoon.

Tirzah – 2:45-3:30pm

This is an artist that I learned about because I was going through everyone that’s playing the festival and I was surprised I hadn’t heard of her before. Hailing from the UK Tirzah makes intimate, at times tumultuous music that drifts around you gently as you listen. If I were going to compare her to someone it would be Daniel Caesar. I don’t really know what to expect from the performance but it’s definitely going to be good.

Freddie Gibbs – 6:30-7:15pm

Having just dropped his second collaborative album, Bandana with legendary producer Madlib this performance is definitely going to be special. I’ve seen Freddie Gibbs over and over and I’ve never been disappointed by a show. His intensity and sense of humor come through in his shows and since he’s from just across the Indiana border Chicago shows are basically home town shows for Freddie.

Jeremih – 7:45-8:30pm

Jeremih needs no introduction. But here’s the run down. This is a local superstar who is coming back to play a mid-sized festival, oh and also it’s the guy who wrote “Birthday Sex” so get ready to get down.

Sunday

Dreezy – 1:00-1:40pm

Dreezy is one of Chicago’s Rap Queens who is totally on top of her game right now. Coming from the South Side, Dreezy has been steadily working her way to the top in Chicago and has really entered the national spotlight recently. She was even cast as an upcoming rapper in Beats on Netflix. I’m kind of confused about her placement as the first show on Sunday but whatever it’s gonna be a lit ass show.

Tasha – 2:45-3:30pm

I absolutely adore Tasha and her music. She makes intimate indie-rock that feels completely natural. Her lyrical ability makes poetry accessible and magical and really lets you into her world. She also has a natural magnetism that makes it impossible to look away when she’s on stage. I’ve been following her for years and I’m so excited to see her finally playing a big show in Chicago like this.

JPEGMAFIA – 3:20-4:10pm

JPEGMAFIA has made a name for himself over the last couple of years. His energy is always at 200% and his industrial sound makes him one of the best rappers to mosh to, which is exactly what I’ll be doing at 3:20.

Clairo – 4:15-5:10pm

Clairo is an incredible songwriter and performer. Since her song “Pretty Girl” blew up she has reimagined herself over and over, always staying slightly ahead of expectations without pushing her sound into something that’s too far away that it would turn her fans off. This is extremely evident by her most recent autotune filled release “Closer To You”.

Neneh Cherry – 6:30-7:15pm

Neneh Cherry is an awesome throwback artist and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us.

Stephen Kaplan