If Radio Milwaukee hosted a music festival, it would likely look at lot like Pitchfork Music Festival. Three-quarters of the artists on the Pitchfork lineup this year are artists we play on air here at 88Nine, and many are artists we have followed for years. If you are unfamiliar with the Pitchfork Music Festival, hosted by the online music magazine of the same name, you can read about our experience at last year’s festival here. This year’s lineup features a cast of old favorites like Mavis Staples and Belle and Sebastian alongside promising up and coming artists.
These are the acts we are most looking forward to seeing at the 2019 Pitchfork Music Festival, which will take place Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21. You can also find the full lineup below, too.
Friday, July 19
Grapetooth, 4 p.m.
Grapetooth is the project of Twin Peaks’ Clay Frankel and producer Chris Bailoni. The Chicago duo released their self-titled debut album late last year and gained immediate popularity within the Chicago music scene. Grapetooth’s ’80s inspired, danceable, synth heavy pop translates into a wild live show. When I saw them perform at the University of Wisconsin-Madison last winter, their final song was cut short by venue security because there were too many people dancing on the stage.
Soccer Mommy, 6:30 p.m.
Sophie Allison, better known as Soccer Mommy, topped numerous album of the year lists with her 2018 album “Clean,” including ours. She performed as a part of 88Nine’s Emerging Artist Series at Summerfest last year and has continued to cement her place among indie rock’s most promising new faces. Distorted guitars and deep bass grooves underlie Soccer Mommy’s heart-wrenching lyrics sung with a detached, cool vocal style, gaining the praise of musical peers and fans alike.
HAIM, 8:30 p.m.
Sibling trio HAIM have been big names in pop rock since the release of their 2013 album “Days Are Gone.” Their use of layered vocals, careful percussion and ’70s aesthetic made them, and continue to make them, one of the coolest groups around. In 2017, they released their sophomore album “Something to Tell You” and I bonded with my college roommate over our shared love of HAIM. Unfortunately, I was denied the chance to see the band at the height of their fame during Seattle’s 2017 Bumbershoot festival when one of the members fell ill the day of the performance. Here’s hoping all members of HAIM stay healthy this summer, or at least until July 19.
Saturday, July 20
Ric Wilson, 1:45 p.m.
It’s not Pitchfork if you don’t see at least one young artist who makes up part of Chicago’s vibrant rap scene. I discovered Ric Wilson through his collaboration with Kweku Collins on Wilson’s 2018 EP, “BANBA.” He followed that EP with two new singles released this March. Ric Wilson’s music sounds like summertime, complete with horn sections and straightforward, confident delivery. His songs are familiar from the first time you hear them, and I predict his will be one of the most fun sets at Pitchfork Music Festival this year.
CHAI, 2:30 p.m.
CHAI, an experimental pop quartet from Japan, gained acclaim in the U.S. with their emphatic, bouncing 2019 album “PUNK.” The members of CHAI resolve to challenge the restrictive Japanese idea of “kawaii,” or cuteness, instead embracing what they call “NEO kawaii” with a focus on self love and inclusivity. They sing mostly in Japanese with some English lyrics, and between CHAI’s trademark colorful outfits, enthusiastic performance style and empowering message, the language barrier will not pose a problem. Audience members will be head bobbing and trying to sing along in no time.
Kurt Vile, 5:15 p.m.
Kurt Vile began his career by starting the band The War on Drugs, and shortly after embarked on a prolific solo career. He released his seventh studio album,”Bottle It In,” last year, and in 2017 collaborated with Courtney Barnett on an album entitled “Lotta Sea Lice.” This year, Vile brings his folksy, introspective rock, aided by his casual lyrical delivery and a distinctive guitar playing style, to the Pitchfork stage. If you can’t make it to Chicago to see his Pitchfork set, you can listen to his Studio Milwaukee session here.
The Isley Brothers, 8:30 p.m.
The Isley Brothers’ 2019 Pitchfork performance marks the 60th anniversary of the group’s formation. For the past 60 years, the Isley Brothers have released music that runs the gamut of gospel, R&B, rock, soul, funk and disco. They have recorded for labels including RCA, Atlantic, Tamla (a Motown subsidiary) and their own label, T-Neck Records. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
Sunday, July 21
Clairo, 4:15 p.m.
Clairo stands as the perfect example of a young artist who gained fame by embracing the internet. The 20 year old former bedroom producer gained attention with the release of her singles “Flaming Hot Cheetos” and “Pretty Girl” on Soundcloud and YouTube in 2017. In the years since, the lo-fi artist released an EP, made an appearance on Wallow’s debut “Nothing Happens” and recorded a full album, co-produced with former Vampire Weekend producer Rostam and due out Aug. 2.
Whitney, 6:15 p.m.
88Nine has been a fan of Whitney since 2016, when we included them in our 2016 Pitchfork Music Festival Preview. Now, three years after the release of their hit album “Light Upon the Lake,” Whitney is back. Their second album is due for release on Aug. 30, and I am hoping to get a sneak peak during their Pitchfork set. The best part about seeing Whitney perform live is watching how the seven-piece band artfully crafts their sometimes delicate, sometimes full songs.
Robyn, 8:30 p.m.
We know Robyn, we love Robyn and we are ready to dance our socks off at Robyn’s Pitchfork set. NPR included her song “Dancing On My Own” in their “American Anthem” series, and they could not be more correct. She had two U.S. Top 10 singles in the 1990s, and her career progress has shown no signs of stopping since then. Her 2018 release “Honey” is full of what I, in my professional opinion, would call “bangers.” If Robyn’s performance at Pitchfork is anything less than a home run, something has gone seriously wrong.