Pitchfork’s blessing can help get a band noticed, and now the same thing can be said for its festival. The schedule reads like a who’s-who of indie music. If you’re asking what sets you should see at Pitchfork Festival this weekend, the easy answer is probably “as many as you can,” but here are a few of the Paste staff’s non-headlining favorites.
1. Mac DeMarco
DeMarco was one of our favorite new artists of 2012, and it seems like every time he gets on stage he reminds us why. Between his witty remarks, wild personality and, of course, his “rock-and-roll music,” DeMarco doesn’t disappoint.
2. Ryan Hemsworth
Hemsworth’s hazy blend of inventive music that toggles between emotions breathes life into a genre that’s frequently criticized for a sterile approach. His heady beats can command a crowd, forcing them not only to move but to feel. The hip-hop/R&B production coalesces perfectly with the chilled-out trap influences underneath his richly textured songs. —Clifton Golden
Katie Crutchfield’s minimalistic sound and open, confessional lyrics make her recent release Cerulean Salt mandatory listening for any music fan, but her background in punk and hardcore gives this singer/songwriter a unique edge on stage. —Dacey Orr
With their debut album already topping many of our Best of 2013 lists and wild performance at our SXSW party under their belt, Foxygen is always a must-see. Considering the catchy singles coming from frontman Jonathan Rado’s solo work, Foxygen’s buzz isn’t fading. It’s the recipe for an unforgettable fest appearance. —Dacey Orr
5. Mikal Cronin
You can listen to the tracks on MC II a million times, but there’s just no substitute for Cronin’s intense live performance. The show may be loud, but Cronin doesn’t seem to allow the earnestness in his lyrics to be lost in the instrumentation. This is a must-see. —Dacey Orr
Phosphorescent, moniker of Matthew Houck, is everything you want in an outdoor summer concert. He blends folk, country and southern rock—and blends it well. —Claire Ruhlin
Savages has the kind of attitude that makes their shows unpredictable as well as unforgettable. Even a cursory listen to Silence Yourself makes it clear that catching a set from the band, particularly in a festival environment, is going to be a weekend highlight.
The no-filler debut from METZ might have come out of nowhere for some, but for the Canadian power-trio, it was three-and-a-half years of sweaty basement shows in the making. Thankfully, Alex Edkins, Hayden Menzies and Chris Slorach are getting that spotlight they deserve through Sub Pop Records and making a strong case for the return of the power trio along the way. The band’s songs are simple in design—Just look at album opener “Headache” or “The Mule” for quick reminders there—but the whole time, METZ never strays from roots in brutal, distorted bass and guitars tiptoeing feedback from second to second. —Tyler Kane
9. Julia Holter
Julia Holter is a songwriter who’s played upon the delicacies and intricacies of music throughout the duration of her young career. Her soft, distant vocals fit snugly within the confines of the theatrical instrumentation. Filled with rich strings and gorgeous melodies, Holter has struck a chord with countless listeners throughout the past few years. —Grant Golden
Swans’ seamless blend of noise-rock with more delicate, acoustic sounds is overwhelming even on their studio albums. The chance to see Michael Gira and company recreate those sounds before a live audience isn’t one to miss, and if the performance is anywhere near as thrilling and unpredictable as the tracks themselves, this set may be the best of the weekend.