This morning Pitchfork announced the lineup for its 15th annual music festival, headlined by mope masters the National, rap superduo Run the Jewels, and New York hipster-rock darlings the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Pitchfork the website originally built its reputation by covering the indie music world that gave birth to these headliners, and even though Pitchfork the festival has grown big enough to book them now that they’re stars, it hasn’t lost sight of that mission–which lends extra significance to its crystal anniversary.
Run the Jewels sets have become as routine at Chicago summer festivals as sightings of Matthew Churney (aka “hacky-sack guy”), but El-P and Killer Mike nonetheless help make the 2020 Pitchfork lineup as eclectic and distinctive as the ones that preceded it. It’s expanded well beyond its indie-rock comfort zone, and other big names invigorating this year’s roster include art-rock royal Kim Gordon, funk oddball Thundercat, and rising dance star Yaeji. Chicago indie rockers Fiery Furnaces, who took most of the past decade off, will return to the stage the first night of the fest.
If you’re a Pitchfork regular, chances are you’ve seen several acts on this year’s lineup at previous editions. Danny Brown will rap at Pitchfork for the fifth time, and all told 17 of its 42 acts are repeaters–at least if you count Caroline Polachek’s set with Chairlift in 2013, Jehnny Beth’s appearances with Savages in 2013 and 2016, and Kim Gordon’s performance with Sonic Youth in 2007. If you were at Pitchfork Paris in 2017, this lineup might feel particularly repetitive–the National and Run the Jewels headlined there that year.
As usual, the lineup’s highlights include some acts who’ve never played Pitchfork. Emo bands Oso Oso and Dogleg likely owe thanks for their bookings to the Hotelier, who in 2016 became the first group from that often-maligned genre to play the festival (Oso Oso front man Jade Lilitri also played guitar in the Hotelier during that set). Joining them as first-timers are emo-tinged indie rockers Hop Along, Atlanta R&B singer Mariah the Scientist, London jazz unit the Ezra Collective, and extraordinary LA singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers.
The nine Chicago acts playing this year’s Pitchfork are some of the most exciting, though that number is a hair below the average the fest has established in recent years. Among them are soul-leaning singer-songwriter Kaina, hip-hop storyteller Femdot, and footwork experimentalist DJ Nate. (Angel Olsen could be considered number ten, but she moved away in 2013.)
The Pitchfork Music Festival runs Friday, July 17, through Sunday, July 19, in Union Park. Last year, ComplexCon and the Silver Room Block Party took place the same weekend as Pitchfork, and while the Silver Room event will do so again, it doesn’t look like ComplexCon is returning this summer. Given that the Silver Room Block Party is always free, at least that means nobody has to worry about finding the money for two simultaneous big-ticket events!
Single-day tickets are $75, three-day passes are $185, and three-day Pitchfork Plus passes will set you back $385 (one-day Plus passes are $160). You can also buy tickets at slightly cheaper early-bird prices ($150 for a three-day pass, $325 for Pitchfork Plus) tonight and tomorrow at the Chicago Athletic Association’s parties celebrating the festival’s 15th anniversary. The Cool Kids, DJ Spinn, and Kaina perform tonight; Ohmme, Dehd, and Spencer Tweedy play tomorrow night. Both events have already sold out.
The daily lineup is below, with links to past Reader coverage where applicable: