Something that personally keeps my love for music growing is the continuous change in the music industry. Older artists come and go, new artists emerge and gain interest, others step in the solidifying concrete of music history making their mark as “that” band and eventually the band that kicks off your morning playlist. If you appreciate these three aspects as much as me, then Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago is the epitome of what you’d want from a live music festival. Pitchfork has become a main attraction with their untouchable list of previous headliners such as Chance The Rapper, Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, and LCD Soundsystem along with this year’s well rounded list of headliners including Tame Impala, Fleet Foxes, and Lauryn Hill. Headliners are obviously what the fans first look for, but keep in mind Pitchfork is renowned for their lineup of lesser-known artists. Here are only a few of Pitchfork Music Festival’s 2018 non-headliner artists who deserve a second look like Girlpool, Kelly Lee Ownens and Zola Jesus.
1 - Julien Baker: Friday @ 5:15, Blue Stage
We start off with Julien Baker, a Memphis native. Originally a member of Forrister (previously The Star Killers), Baker has released two hit albums titled Sprained Ankle and Turn Out the Lights under her own name. Her music has been labeled as indie rock and folk, but Baker is best known for her slowcore, depressing sound even stating in her Instagram bio “Sad songs make me feel better.” Baker will be taking the stage on Friday at 5:15.
2 - Courtney Barnett: Friday @ 7:25, Red Stage
Returning for another performance at Pitchfork, the notable style of Courtney Barnett is must see on Friday. The Australian songwriter has released multiple albums over the past few years along with recent singles “Nameless, Faceless” and “City Looks Pretty.” Barnett’s music has been described as “witty” and, in her latest album Tell Me How You Really Feel, “introverted” in a unique way incomparable to other artists and definitely worth a listen. Barnett will be taking the stage at 7:25.
3 - Zola Jesus: Saturday @ 2:30, Green Stage
Kick off your Saturday at Pitchfork with Zola Jesus. Zola has produced many styles of music but her latest album Okovi (which translates to “shackles”) resorts to a darker, gothic tone. Songs from Okovi carry deeper meanings from Zola’s past and interests involving dealing with depression and her single “Soaked” which is seen from the perspective of a serial killer’s victim. Overall, Zola is able to transform the negative aspects of life into an appreciable musical form of fine art. Zola Jesus will be playing at 2:30 on Saturday.
4 - Girlpool: Saturday @ 5:15, Blue Stage
Today’s list of up and coming female rock artists keep growing and growing but Girlpool is one you won’t want to pass up. The younger duo is able to balance punk with relaxed indie rock reaching fans that want the best of both worlds. Cleo and Harmony, the two main members, mainly created their music with only vocals, guitar, and bass until their most recent album Powerplant where a drummer was added. Girlpool even has shared a song recently with Blood Orange who coincidentally will be playing an hour after Girlpool’s set.
5 - Blood Orange: Saturday @ 6:15, Green Stage
Dev Hynes, or Blood Orange previously known as Lightspeed Champion, defines modern era soul music with his added touch of rock and pop. Blood Orange is well known for his associations with other bands such as Test Icicles, artist Diana Vickers and even Florence and the Machine. Hynes has also reportedly talked about upcoming releases of new music, so we may get a taste for what’s new from Blood Orange on Saturday at 6:15.
6 - Kweku Collins: Sunday @ 2:30, Green Stage
Hometown hero Kweku Collins will be Pitchfork’s third set on Sunday. The Chicago native began gaining attention as a high school student writing music for his first album Say It Here, While It’s Safe. Flash-forward to 2017 with the release of Grey and suddenly Collins becomes a hip-hop chameleon with 9 singles and 9 different flows. Given Kweku’s position as an up-and-coming artist and flawless success in the hip-hop scene, maybe the diversity in sound represent different pathways to take as the young artist at the beginning of his career? We may never know, but what we do know is Collins will be taking stage at 2:30.
7 - Kelly Lee Owens: Sunday @ 2:45, Blue Stage
If hip-hop isn’t your cup of tea for a Sunday morning then give Kelly Lee Owens a try. Starting as a nurse with a passion for music, Owens eventually pushed herself to become a musician in 2009 beginning with her introduction to a band called The History of Apple Pie. Through working at a record store Owens was able to make friends who helped her evolve her association with rock music into her own interest of pop music. After the release of her self titled album in 2017, her dreamy sounding pop music instantly grew worldwide interest. You can see Kelly perform at 2:45.
8 - Japanese Breakfast: Sunday @ 4:00, Blue Stage
Last but not least is an artist who’s come a long way since 2016. Japanese Breakfast has become an absolute hit since her release of Soft Sounds from Another Planet carrying hit singles like the autotuned “Machinist” and more intimate songs such as “Boyish” and “Road Head.” Japanese Breakfast will even have a soundtrack with the yet to be released video game “Sable.” Japanese Breakfast will be taking the stage on Sunday at 4:00.
Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago has an amazing lineup for 2018. Although eights artosts have been suggested, keep in mind 40+ bands are set to play over three separate stages on July 20-22 including a broad variety of genres to choose from. With Pitchfork Chicago coming this week, hurry and snag your ticket at pitchforkmusicfestival.com before they’re sold out!