Pitchfork picks


Adam Garnduciel, David Hartley, Robbie Bennett, Charlie Hall, Jon Natchez and Anthony LaMarca comprise Philadelphia band “The War On Drugs.” (Photo courtesy of The War on Drugs)

Pitchfork is currently in the middle of unveiling the lineup for its 2018 festival. For the past two weeks, a live stream has gone up on Facebook, showing local artist Shelby Rodeffer painting artist names onto a mural outside the Wicker Park bar Violet Hour. It’s a reveal that feels charming, yet also painfully gimmicky at the same time (you’re literally watching paint dry). The final bunch of acts is scheduled to be revealed the morning of March 16, but in the meantime, you can start filling up your preparation playlist with these great acts.




Tame Impala

Friday, July 20

The only headliner to be announced so far, Tame Impala promises to start the weekend off with a bang during their Friday night set. This Australian band has become one of the top names in indie rock since their 2015 album “Currents,” and while there’s no official word on a follow-up, there’s speculation that frontman Kevin Parker and company will use this set to debut their great new material. In the meantime, you know you can count on the hits like “Elephant” and “The Less I Know The Better” driving the Pitchfork crowd crazy.


Big Thief

Friday, July 20

It takes some guts to name your debut album “Masterpiece,” but in Big Thief’s case, the title fits the music. This indie band out of Brooklyn began in 2015, and since then they’ve done nothing but release alluring and tender songs that steal your heart and stick in your head for days. Their latest album “Capacity,” which earned high spots on several best-of-2017 lists, features stand-out songs like “Mythological Beauty” and “Mary” that will sound heavenly as you relax in the grass and the sun goes down over Union Park.


Julien Baker

Friday, July 20

Julien Baker entered our hearts back in 2015 with her heartbreakingly beautiful debut “Sprained Ankle,” and has stayed there ever since. Her 2017 record “Turn Out The Lights” was another excellent effort, as she incorporated new elements like strings and recruited friends to help sing her bitterly honest lyrics about mental health, addiction, and faith. Her music may seem out of place for a festival at first listen, but she’d sound right at home at the Blue Stage of Pitchfork, performing her beautifully sad songs under the trees for all of us to absorb.



Friday, July 20

Pitchfork always does a great job of booking local artists, and this year is no exception. Among the native Chicagoans on this year’s bill is Melkbelly, a four-piece noise rock band that will melt your face off. Based out of Pilsen, the band made up of a married couple and two brothers first played together in 2013 as a Brian Eno cover band. Somehow, that was the start of something special. Their 2017 record “Nothing Valley” is full of earworm hooks, scattered riffs and moments where the instruments just devolve into loud and beautiful noise.




The War on Drugs

Saturday, July 21

If Japandroids serve as a punk approach to the classic rock themes you loved growing up, The War On Drugs can be your modern-day extension of those themes. The Philadelphia collective fronted by Adam Granduciel takes their influences of Petty, Young and Springsteen and adds synths and guitar effects that make every song feel like a summer sunset on a highway. It’s a skill they perfected with 2014’s “Lost In The Dream,” and carried on to last summer’s “A Deeper Understanding.” When Saturday evening comes around, let yourself get lost in the euphoric guitar solos that the War On Drugs can offer you.



Sunday, July 22

If you’ve never heard of this Canadian duo, be prepared to be blown away. Japandroids put out one of the best rock albums of the 21st century with 2012’s “Celebration Rock,” and after a five-year hiatus, came back swinging last year with “Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.” Every song of theirs is meant to be sung to as loudly as humanly possible, all while thrashing around in a mosh pit. The band brought the heat to Pitchfork back in 2012, and are sure to come back stronger than ever this summer.