Festivals take preparation. Aside from packing your knives and drugs, the most important thing to do is take a look at that schedule and figure out what your priorities are.
There’s a bitter joy that comes with planning for a music festival with a stacked lineup. The long list of performers on the bill that built up enough excitement to warrant getting a three-day pass had to be distributed into a schedule, and as great as the lineup was, the schedule can never be perfect. Organizers do their best, but there will always be conflicts between acts you want to see. We have pretty diverse tastes here at P&P, and it just makes the decision-making process harder – how do you decide between a hip-hop act and a punk rock band, or a singer-songwriter and experimental electronic music?
We’re covering the Pitchfork Music Festival this year and decided to get what we’ll be seeing this weekend down on paper to help whoever else is going’s decision-making easer, or just to be argued with. Obviously, there is no way we’ll end up sticking to this schedule because festivals are long and we have terrible attention spans, but this is the plan.
Hit “next” or click the pictures to see our ideal schedule…
Willis Earl Beal
Who You’ll Miss: Lower Dens (second half), The Olivia Tremor Control
Willis Earl Beal burst on the scene this year with an amazing story, the most individual marketing schemes we had ever seen and a handful of songs to back it up. At first our interest was piqued, but it wasn’t until Confusion saw him live that everything snapped into focus. If you’ve been lucky enough to catch a Willis Earl Beal set then you already know what an experience it is. He is a rockstar. You would never know it from listening to his debut album, Acousmatic Sorcerey, but these songs are not meant to be experimental, lo-fi tracks. They’re full-blown, earth-shatteringly powerful spirituals that, when he’s in the moment, Beal fully embodies. Can’t cosign this performance enough, and it’s about as good a way to kick off a festival as possible.
Who You’ll Miss: A$AP Rocky (Second Half), Big K.R.I.T.
This is where the first big conflicts are. Do you skip out on the end of A$AP Rocky’s set or miss the first half of Japandroids? What about Big K.R.I.T. a stage away? It’s not worth pretending that this isn’t a tough decision. A$AP is going to be a lot of fun and, with his live track record, this is the set most likely to give you some great stories to tell when the weekend is over. KRIT has shown an uncanny attention to detail in his recorded material and is sure to put on a good show. However, the sheer life-affirming exuberance of Celebration Rock has them both beat. Japandroids are fresh off releasing what is going to be one of 2012’s best albums, and their set is not one to be missed. We’ll be missing the end of A$AP to catch the whole thing here and suggest you do the same.
Who You’ll Miss: Clams Casino
This one is tough. Clams Casino has reinvented a small corner of hip-hop with his washed out soundscapes and given us well over ten of our favorite beats in a remarkably short period of time. Against most acts it’s an easy pick, but when Clams is facing Dirty Projectors it’s a devilish choice, and one that sees us going back to indie over listening to beats for an hour. He has a great catalogue but it’s hard to tell how good it will all sound in a festival setting, not to mention his sub-par mixing skills behind the decks. Contrasted with the veteran, detail-obsessive Brooklyn collective who just released one of their best albums yet in Swing Lo Magellan and still have us hooked on hits like “Stillness Is The Move,” who are basically guaranteed to put on a great show. This choice comes down to making the safe bet, although we wouldn’t blame you at all if you took the risk.
Who You’ll Miss: Feist
Purity Ring are easily one of our favorite new bands on the scene and they’ve got the music to overshadow the buzz. With a phenomenal debut album on the way and a destructively powerful collection of singles in their arsenal, this is not a show to be missed. Especially considering just how cool their stage setup is (Spoiler: there are a lot of eerily enchanting lights synchronized to the music) and the fact that this is probably going to be the duo’s biggest crowd to date, you’re going to want to be here, even if it’s just to say “I saw them way back when…” a few years from now. Sorry, Feist.
Who You’ll Miss: Cults, Flying Lotus (first half)
Friday holds some tough calls but they pale in comparison to the brilliant block of performers on Saturday afternoon. “I had to pick between acts I really, really like” is about as whiny and inconsequential a problem a person could have, but shit is real out here. This grouping of Cults, Youth Lagoon, Flying Lotus and Nicolas Jaar is just unrelenting, but choices have to be made. In this case convenience trumps potential artistry, and the only true winner is the Blue Stage. Cults and Flying Lotus are both solid picks, but the fact is two of the four are on the same stage is a dealbreaker – we’re going to kick off Saturday with the laconically summer-appropriate Youth Lagoon. Let’s hope Trevor brings his A-game.
Who You’ll Miss: Flying Lotus (second half), Wild Flag
This choice is partially because of Nicolas Jaar’s stage assignment, but far more because we just want to see what this guy does in a live, outdoor setting. Last time he linked up with Pitchfork resulted in a full-on exhibit at the MoMA in a geometric sphere and a lot of weird stuff, and while this outing is probably going to be far more conventional than that, it’s still going to be an exciting show from one of the most inventive artists on our radar. Also, “And I Say” is still the jam. You think we’d miss that for anything?
Who You’ll Miss: Sleigh Bells (First Half)
2012 was Schoolboy Q’s breakout year, and we’re right in line with the rest of the world when we say that there’s a lot to be excited about from this guy. Habits & Contradictions is still getting spins and after indie acts kept edging out the hip-hop contingent in Friday’s scheduling conflicts, we’re going to be more than ready for some rapping. Can’t think of anyone better than Schoolboy to take care of that.
Who You’ll Miss: Sleigh Bells (Second Half)
Sleigh Bells, I’m sorry. Catching the second half of your set would be a blast, but Pitchfork’s Blue stage on Saturday is just too good to leave. Chromatics following up Schoolboy Q and segueing into Danny Brown is too odd a combination to pass up, and a stretch of shows too good to leave. Chromatics’ brightly melancholic slice of ’80s-influenced introspection is a downer disguised as slick, colorful pop, and they seem to switch up the formula for their live shows, adding even dancier elements into the mix. Kill For Love is yet another record from this year that we’ve come to know well, and while missing Sleigh Bells is a minor tragedy, it probably won’t hit that hard in the moment.
Who You’ll Miss: Hot Chip
Danny Brown is one of our favorite rappers doing it right now. He’s in a zone and has created some of the best hip-hop of the past few years, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The ramped up touring schedule he’s been doing almost guarantees that this show is going to be great. Also, the chances of a bizarre outfit are very high, which is always exciting.
Who You’ll Miss: Godspeed You! Black Emperor
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have realized that literally ever concert on the Saturday schedule is at the Blue stage. This is the show where it all pays off. After six odd hours of jostling towards the front and holding onto my spot while the other peasants go looking for water and/or other bands, I’ll be staking out the front and center spot for Grimes. I haven’t quite worked out the details on how I’m going to get her attention and subsequently propose, but that’s going to happen. Keep an eye out for my review of this momentous occasion on Monday!
Who You’ll Miss: A Lull, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Early Sunday is, appropriately, going to be dedicated to shuffling, lo-fi guitar rock. First up is Dirty Beaches, the moniker for Alex Zhang Hungtai, a Montreal based artist who makes hazy, welcoming pieces of experimental guitar pop that come extremely close to straight surf rock, only to have a barrage of left-field additions tossed in for good measure and a healthy dose of individualism. Zhang occasionally uses difficult-to-place samples in his music, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the tracks, which I’ve never listened to outside of headphones, translate to a live setting.
Who You’ll Miss: Thee Oh Sees, The Men
Next up is underground rock journeyman Ty Segall. The California-based musician has only really been releasing music for a few years now, but the rate at which he’s churning out projects makes him seem like the kind of indie sensation that’s been bubbling under the surface for much longer. Still, even with a wide range of projects and band memberships, it’s his most recent album with his touring band that really caught our attention. Bold and rough, Slaughterhouse was darker and more immediate than his usual output, but that shift in approach did nothing to dull the end results. Hopefully he splits his set between new and older material, though, as the blurry expressionism of the Ty Segall from a few short years ago will be a welcome soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon.
Who You’ll Miss: Real Estate (second half), Chavez
After Ty Segall wraps, the plan is to get in as much of Real Estate’s set before hitting up Kendrick. Pitchfork may not be known for their hip-hop expertise, but with Danny Brown and Kendrick Lamar, they managed to get two of the most exciting young rappers out right now, and you definitely don’t want to miss out on that. Everybody put three fingers in the air…
Who You’ll Miss: Oneohtrix Point Never (second half), King Krule (first half)
After watching so many of his manic YouTube videos, it’s hard to pass up AraabMuzik in person. The MPC virtuoso is dazzlingly impressive, and has rushed to the forefront of in-demand hip-hop producers in the past year or so. Part of that rise is undoubtedly due to the fact that whenever an Araab beat is played it’s so easy to imagine it’s construction; the hands and oversized watch an unbelievable blur over pads creating gritty and complex instrumental out of thin air before your very eyes. The music is inseparable from the physical feat, and getting to see that in person should be an experience.
Who You’ll Miss: Beach House
As far as this choice goes, it’s between two particularly restrained and well-respected acts. For most attendees, Beach House is going to be the obvious and very acceptable choice in this scheduling conflict. However, a surprisingly strong case for The Field does exist. First of all, the Swedish techno visionary has a renowned live show that melds the gap between electronic production and traditional instrumentation, but doesn’t reach the U.S. all that often. Looping State of Mind was a great album and there’s no telling what Axel Wilner is going to bring to his live set, but the chance to see this again is far lower than that of catching Beach House on their next tour. And, while Beach House is a great band that will certainly put on a great show, Bloom was a slightly underwhelming record. The songs that will evoke the biggest reaction are ones that have probably been played live to you before. Toss in my enduring annoyance at how condescending Alex Scally came off in recent interviews and the fact that The Field will almost certainly be a lot funner, and you’ve got yourself an upset pick in this bracket.
Obvious disclaimer for this pick in the schedule: ignore The Field and see Beach House if you don’t like electronic music, have never seen Beach House live before or are just in the mood for their characteristically hazy mix of the blissful and melancholic.
Who You’ll Miss: No one
All festivals seem to have adopted the One Sunday Headliner practice, and in this case it’s going to be Vampire Weekend. Can’t be mad at that. It’s been a few years since we’ve heard new material from the East Coast band, so a live debut of new material is always a tantalizing hope to keep in the back of the mind. That’s hardly necessary, though, if they were just to play Vampire Weekend front to back it would still be an entertaining show and a worthy festival closer.