Thoughts from the Noteworthy Staff on the most anticipated acts at Pitchfork 2022.
Chicago’s Pitchfork Festival has been considered among the world’s best and most wide ranging music festivals since its inception.
A significant part of its stature is due to Mike Reed, the festival curator, whose finely honed sensibilities, exhaustive knowledge and daring booking instincts make this annual 3-day event an extremely satisfying experience. The mixture of respected, influential headliners, semi-established artists, acts emerging from relative obscurity, and those dreaming of attaining cult status, represent a spectrum of musical turf and forms of expression that has become a rarity in a festival context.
The National, whose scheduled gig at P4K 2020 was canceled due to COVID along with the entire festival, had previously appeared in 2009 and 2006, Pitchfork’s inaugural year in Union Park. This Friday marks the first date of The National’s U.S. leg of their 2022 Summer tour, and their first Chicago appearance since 2019.
As you’re probably aware, since first being known as Brooklyn-based Buckeyes, The National has attracted a loyal global following as one of rock’s most accomplished and beloved new groups of the past twenty years.
Returning to Union Park this weekend will be a treat on so many counts. I will be rushing to get to Pitchfork right on time not to beat the security lines, but to make sure I don’t miss a moment of Arooj Aftab’s set, who opens the fest at 1:00 on Friday. From the moment I heard the opening melodies of her 2021 release Vulture Prince, the record has been on repeat, soundtracking quiet moments of delicate beauty with a glimmering steadiness. Her April performance at Constellation sold out to quickly, so I feel redeemed to finally have a chance to witness the majestic crooning of Grammy award wining performer.
On the back half of the festival, you will find me front and center for Toro Y Moi. On tour for their recent LP Mahal, I am stoked to see how the live act has evolved as the group has shapeshifted their sound over the last decade across the genre spectrum, and most recently planted themselves in the psychedelic indie rock camp. Sunday will also find local legend Noname taking the stage. Though her output has been sparse over since the release of her 2018 record Room 25, everything she has released has been nothing short of solid gold. I’m looking forward to seeing her deliver her witty hooks and booksmart lyricsism on her home turf.
Japanese Breakfast, Mitski, and Lucy Dacus all performing back-to-back the same night of Pitchfork is something ripped directly out of my freshman year of college, “sad girl” music-obsessed, indie super-fan dream journal. Mitski is coming off of a successful run opening for Harry Styles’s UK tour. Lucy Dacus is confidently emerging from the shadows of her Boygenuis supergroup partner Phoebe Bridgers. Japanese Breakfast is taking a detour from promoting her bestselling book and recently-released album on stacked TV appearances. And somehow, they have all wound up in Union Park for three consecutive hours of indulgent indie-rock splendor that I know I will be bawling my eyes out to for the entirety of (“Night Shift,” I’m looking at you).
Couple my personal icons with the hypnotizing synth and stellar outfit laden Magdelena Bay and my favorite unhinged genius, never-fails-to-make-me-embarrassingly-dance rapper CupcakKe, and I’m happily overwhelmed. A day-long blend of fizzy indie, sticky pop, with a few absolutely heart wrenching ballads tossed in, is everything you could ask for from a Saturday.
Seeing Spiritualized on Friday night will be a (literal) dream come true for me – a band that has been around as long as they have, and yet continue to make interesting and exciting music, is not something you come across too often. The quality of their last two records, Everything Was Beautiful and And Nothing Hurt are testaments to the longevity of this band considering their first full length was released in 1992. I’m sure we’ll hear a good chunk of new material, but I’d be lying if I were to say I’m hoping for a decent selection from classic albums like Ladies and Gentlemen… and Lazer Guided Melodies.
I’d suggest getting to the fest early on Saturday to catch maestro guitarist Jeff Parker right at 1:00 pm. Most known for his work with Chicago’s own Tortoise, Parker has released a string of amazing albums on International Anthem, most recently this year’s Forfolks. His Suite For Max Brown LP is a personal standout for me, with its fusion of hip-hop turntablism and virtuosic jazz playing, it will be interesting to see how it translates to a live setting.
Sunday has an incredible double-headliner of The Roots and Earl Sweatshirt – one of hip-hop’s most beloved and respected groups, along with a young star who has been pushing the boundaries of rap music. Earl’s 2022 release, SICK! has been on near-constant rotation for me through the first half of the year, and Some Rap Songs is high on my list of favorite rap albums ever. The Roots haven’t put out a proper studio album since 2014, but have been playing shows pretty consistently, and I expect a stellar performance from them as usual.