I started to draft up my "top artists to catch at Pitchfork 2013" list when it hit me that most people heading to Pitchfork Fest already know a majority of these bands/artists. That's not to say Pitchfork Fest is filled with huge mainstream names, actually it's quite the opposite, with Pitchfork Fest boasting the most unique lineup in the last few years surrounded by festivals that seem like they are cloning each other's lineups. The point is, most of the people attending Pitchfork Fest are active music listeners who are sure to stream all the artists they're curious about catching before hitting the three-day fest. What I decided to do instead is craft my top five questions (questions mostly disguised as hopes) surrounding Pitchfork Festival 2013. I'll be walking around all weekend (wearing either a You Ain't No Picasso, Hype Machine, or black t-shirt and Tigers hat). Make sure to say hi and get ready for one of the best music festivals of 2013.
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What will Mac DeMarco do? I've seen Mr. DeMarco six times in the last year and his live show has somehow remained unique every experience. I'm not sure how his bold personality will shine through in a large festival setting, but one thing is guaranteed, Mac DeMarco and his band will deliver one of the most fun sets at Pitchfork 2013. DeMarco spent his last tour mixing in a range of bizarrely perfect covers from Tool, The Beatles, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Limp Bizkit, and more. Will we get a new cover song? Does he have something else up his sleeve? I'm not sure what DeMarco and his band will do, I just know I'll be front row and ready.
Will Swans Live Change My Life?
I'm not a huge Swans fan, but not because I dislike their music. It's more to the point that I've only been a casual listener over their long career. I've often told myself to sit down and spend a few weeks with their music, but for some reason or another it's never happened. However, I've been told by more than one trustworthy music friend that "seeing Swans live will change your life." While it's a bold statement, I'm the king of hyperbole and will keep an open mind to the possibility of this beloved band putting on a life altering show.
How Will They Run The Jewels?
If you're in love with the newest offering from Killer Mike and El-P, Run The Jewels, the Pitchfork schedule might have you scratching your head how they will play any of the material live. Both play Sunday with El-P going on 3:30 and Killer Mike at 2:30 on two different stages. This last weekend the two were billed together at Forecastle Festival and divided the set into Killer Mike solo, El-P solo, then the rest of the set as a duo. I'm not sure how they will do the new album with split sets, but my advice for those as obsessed with Run The Jewels as I am is to go to both sets. Smart money says one of them will be joining the other's set for a special performance - which one, I don't know, but even if the new album is neglected, both Killer Mike and El-P's solo material is top notch.
Who Will Be The Best Undercard?
One of the best things year in and year out about Pitchfork Fest is their unique curation of non-headlining talent. The acts are a celebration of the website itself and the undercard performers always have a chance to outshine the headliners (who are also uniquely/brilliantly curated as well). There are possible best shows of the fest all over the place with Mikal Cronin, Woods, Daughn Gibson, Mac DeMarco, Trash Talk, Phosphorescent, Pissed Jeans, Autre Ne Veut... okay, I'm listing the whole festival now. My bet for the best non-headlining show is the enchanting and somewhat mysterious Angel Olsen. She's been one of my favorite new folk artist these last two years and I'm excited to see if she's up to the tough task of delivering an emotional punch to such a large crowd's gut at an outdoor festival. If anyone can do it, it's Olsen, who has a smoky and intense voice that cuts to the core lyric after lyric.
New Joanna Newsom Songs?
It's been three years since Joanna Newsom's last LP, the more than two hour masterpiece Have One On Me. It was on this album that Newsom proved that she wasn't just an artist gliding on Van Dyke Park's wonderful arrangements, as found on Ys. Rather, she went toe to toe with the master composer, crafting some of her most complex and beautiful music to date. Through the wonders of YouTube, Newsom has rolled out a few rumored new songs for her next album, but my biggest question (and biggest want) is: will we witness some new music from Newsom? I believe we're any day from an official album announcement, and to be there at Pitchfork when she rolls out new material would be a very special moment for a fan who considers Newsom one of the most important musicians of the last decade.