So I was originally going to call this post “Pitchfork’s Small Print Bands” before I realized that was completely redundant and that “lesser-known” is their entire modus operandi… well, that and monkey-peeing-into-its-own-mouth album reviews that they have scrubbed from their website like adults embarrassed of their high school Facebook statuses. Anyway, my main point is that Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival (this weekend in Chicago’s Union Park) always has some of the most interesting indie (this word may mean nothing in 2013) lineups in the summer festival circuit and that assembling a list of must-see’s is relatively hard because there are no SUPER shitty bands to excise from that list (if only Jet were playing!).
I would also be lying if I said I was only going for the music: the crowd this festival attracts is the most beautiful collage of pacifist burnouts and hipster stoners you have ever seen. One year I had a competition with my friend to see who could spot more tattoos of babies and I think I lost (but really, everyone lost, because that’s not even a zero sum game). But my favorite people are the music nerds, the kids you can talk to about Pavement’s entire discography and the time signature of any Battles song from Mirrored. Those kids are the best, and they will always be at the right show when the good acts are overlapping.
So in my meager attempt to try and join that music nerd elite (if you have to try…), I want to forecast some bands you should definitely check out if you didn’t make it to SDCC this year and were in the Midwest instead. Nerds, burnouts, hipsters, I am looking forward to seeing you jam to R. Kelly this weekend. On with the list!
1) Mac Demarco
Remember how I was just talking about indie burnouts a second ago? In my head, Mac Demarco is the banner-child for the slacker aesthetic with his gap-toothed grin, his oversized flannel that he always wears because its probably his only shirt, and his greasy, tremolo-laden jukebox rock. I have been known to make a Twin Peaks reference, but this dude really has got the grungy pacific northwest thing down
2) Mikal Cronin
Mikal Cronin is a powerpop/psych rocker from California, who has a preternatural sense for catchy guitar hooks. His new album MCII was decidedly less garage-y than his first, but its melodies were just as potent and sweet. If you are more into rougher-round-the-edges psych jams with viscous distortion, I highly recommend his 2009 collaborative album with Ty Segall, Reverse Shark Attack .
3) Ryan Hemsworth
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Ryan Hemsworth is the musician that the internet deserves in 2013 and he knows it: “Hi I’m Ryan Hemsworth –from the Internet.” This is how he introduced himself in an article he recently wrote for for Interview Magazine. The funniest thing about that introduction is how self aware it is without being cocky at all. Any person with a Tumblr and a Twitter handle could feasibly introduce himself/herself the same way and you might hesitate to call bullshit. But if you follow him on Twitter or Tumblr, you know that he loves to communicate with emojis (look at the name of the above song) and puns about millenial pop/hip-hop. Its this sort of zeitgeisty appeal that attracted me to Hemsworth at first, but then it was his sound. Looking very forward to his set.
4) The Breeders
News of Kim Deal’s departure from the Pixies was surprising in so much as their so-so new song really sounds like she contributed back up vocals, even though she had apparently exited the band before the track was completed. I think that is sort of a testament to how crucial she was to the Pixies — you can still hear her even though she is gone — and I am really stoked to see her perform in a leading role with her longtime-side-and-now-main project.
This is the only set at Pitchfork this weekend I am worried about. Rustie’s brand of ecstatic, ebullient eletronic jams will demand every ounce of my energy and hydration because I am going to be bopping for a a solid hour (contingency plan: faint somewhere near the main stage to catch Belle and Sebastian play “If She Wants Me”).
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Tree has got an interesting voice. He sort of sounds like he eats packs of Swisher Sweets and gulps vinegar straight. But that’s partly what gives him so much soul! I am a really big fan of the Chicago MC’s Sunday Schoool II mixtape and I am curious how it will translate live. I am under the impression that this will be a homecoming of sorts for Tree and he will soul-trap his heart out, and maybe even go hoarse (though I am not sure he would be even remotely audible after that)
Feeling a little aggro? Trying to get a decent headbang going before you head back to the cubicle on Monday? This Toronto-based trio combines the right amount of churning riffs and visceral yelps to elevate your blood pressure and loosen your limbs for any ensuing thrashing. Rage to your heart’s content.
8) Killer Mike
Killer Mike is one of the smartest rappers in the music industry right now. Not only are his lyrics some of the most sociologically rich criticisms of culture and race, but his flow and technique are so confident and booming that you don’t realize for a few minutes that you are grooving to a scathing political polemic. Also, I am not sure at whose set this will happen, but El-P and Killer Mike will definitely join forces at some point to do a few Run The Jewels tracks.
This weekend is going to be so good. SER GERD.
This be my Twitter: @MattGrosinger