Credit: Nicole Miglis

Artists’ names are in the color of the stage they’re appearing on. See our previews of the bands playing on Saturday and Sunday.

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Hundred Waters

When I first heard the 2012 self-titled debut of bicoastal group Hundred Waters, I was taken by its bold marriage of mannered folk singing and electronica—front woman Nicole Miglis generally avoided ornamentation (breathy swoops, overwrought filigree, fussy arabesques) in order to foreground the pure tone of her gorgeous voice. The second Hundred Waters album, this spring’s The Moon Rang Like a Bell (Owsla), has the same kind of restrained vibe as the first one, but it does away with the strummed acoustic guitars that felt like such a crucial support for Miglis’s singing—it shifts from folk toward R&B, and Miglis augments her vocabulary with melisma, adenoidal shading, and subtle trills. The all-synthetic arrangements frame her melodies beautifully, the beats never overpower, and the swells and arpeggios fit her tasteful acrobatics perfectly—with the possible exception of “Animal,” where the break makes it sound like the song is about to turn into a cover of Yaz’s “Don’t Go.” Peter Margasak

Credit: Courtesy Pitchfork Music Festival

Factory Floor

The self-titled debut from London experimental-techno three-piece Factory Floor (released last year by DFA/Rough Trade) is postindustrial and anti­disco—its clatter and rumble is the sound of a gaudy, glittery dance club devouring itself from the outside in. Stark, rapid beats bubble beneath dark surfaces fraught with negative space, and gnarled, heavily processed vocals sweep in and out of the tracks. The seething rhythmic loops, produced by live drums and machines, damn near make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up—it’s like your body is trying to tell you that you’re about to be hunted down by whatever faceless entity most petrifies you. Kevin Warwick

Credit: Kim Hiorthoy

Neneh Cherry

Few artists have passed through as many thrilling phases in their careers as singer Neneh Cherry. In the early 80s she made brilliantly unclassifiable postpunk with Rip Rig & Panic and whacked-out dub with the New Age Steppers, and later that decade she went solo with an influential mix of club music and hip-hop, scoring a massive hit with 1988’s “Buffalo Stance.” After nearly two decades of relative quiet, she made a big splash two years ago with Scandinavian free-jazz trio the Thing, reestablishing her cool with a collaborative album that combined new originals and intense, genre-averse covers of songs by the Stooges, Ornette Coleman, and MF Doom. Earlier this year she released Blank Project (Smalltown Supersound), her first solo album in 18 years, working with producer Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) and raw-like-sushi UK electro-punk duo Rocket­NumberNine, whose lean, corrosive funk churn makes a perfect match for Cherry’s soulful melodies. This combo of hooky singing and arty grooves seems like a perfect summation of her early art-punk efforts and pioneering pop moves, and she pulls it off without a whiff of nostalgia. Cherry never really went away, but now that the music world has caught up with her innovations, she sure seems recharged: as she sings in “Everything,” the new album’s closing track, “Good things come to those who wait.” This is Cherry’s only U.S. appearance in support of Blank Project. Peter Margasak

Credit: Courtesy Pitchfork Music Festival

The Haxan Cloak

The Haxan Cloak (aka British producer Bobby Krlic) is no ordinary electronic musician: on the recent I Shall Die Here (RVNG) he collaborates with avant-doom brutes the Body, surrounding their down-tuned guitar and thundering drums with creepy, skittering ambience and gut-punching synth bass. On solo records such as last year’s stark Excavation (TriAngle), Krlic traffics in a different species of alienation, puncturing a wasteland of fuzzy machinelike hums, spacey twinkles, and truncated rhythms with those same impossibly deep synth tones; his largely amorphous tracks drift and evolve with an inexorable logic known only to him. I’m not sure if the Haxan Cloak’s throbbing, subterranean soundscapes will agree with the late-afternoon sun, but I can always shut my eyes. Peter Margasak

Credit: Dusdin Condren

Sharon Van Etten

Brooklyn-based singer Sharon Van Etten has steadily grown in confidence and strength since her wonderfully modest 2009 debut, Because I Was in Love, and she drives that fact home on the recent Are We There (Jagjaguwar). As usual her songs dive headfirst into the painful side of love, depicting with grueling fidelity the way devotion and desire can blind the rational mind. Her lovely voice can cover a greater emotional and expressive range than ever, which seems to have tempted her into melodramatic excess on the stormy piano ballad “I Know” and the overstuffed anthem “Tarifa.” My favorite songs are more restrained: on “I Love You but I’m Lost” Van Etten’s hushed voice glides through a backing track that’s just piano and drums, and on the sleek ballad “Nothing Will Change” she uses subtle soul inflections to complement a slaloming clarinet. Peter Margasak

Credit: Courtesy Pitchfork Music Festival


New Jersey singer Solana “SZA” Rowe is the first of four Top Dawg Entertainment signees performing this weekend at Pitchfork. The sleepy, sultry R&B of her full-length debut, April’s Z, is as good a soundtrack as you could want for the torpid early-evening hours of a Friday in July. Her feathery vocals sound like relaxing in the shade—and relaxing should be easy during her set, unless Kendrick Lamar or Chance the Rapper jumps onstage to perform his guest turn from Z in the flesh. Leor Galil

Credit: Gabriel Shephard

Sun Kil Moon

Folk-style singer-­songwriters are only as good as the stories they tell, and Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek—friend to dedicated musical depressives since founding Red House Painters in 1989—is a master. On 2014’s often-­autobiographical Benji (Caldo Verde), he conjures a massive cast of characters, speaking in their voices, lionizing them, and memorializing them. They include his parents, a kid he bullied in school, two relatives who died in separate aerosol-can explosions, objects of his teenage lust, Jimmy Page, a serial killer or two, and the children murdered at Newtown; their real and imagined stories interlock in a suite of songs that works more like a collection of Raymond Carver’s short fiction than an album. Kozelek’s songs are world-weary in the best way: they look past the aches and regrets of growing old to find the humor and love that help us transcend them. He’s beloved not just for his sad-bastard jams but also for his droll, hilarious stage banter—his stage show should include some much-needed levity. J.R. Nelson

Credit: Atiba Jefferson

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

Animal Collective cofounder Avey Tare (aka Dave Portner) may have been inspired by horror-­movie camp when he made his new solo album, Enter the Slasher House (Domino), but his whiny yelp doesn’t exactly evoke bloody mayhem—if anything, it makes you want to stuff him in a steamer trunk. He’s supported on the record by Angel Deradoorian and former Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman, both of whom will join him here, and its spazzy, often delirious tunes, rooted in 90s indie rock, are the most direct-sounding music he’s made on his own. Portner isn’t well served by his hyperventilating vocals or his habit of slathering everything in murky reverb, but the pithy melodies that abound on Enter the Slasher House rescue the songs from incoherence. At times the record sounds like a Jane’s Addiction LP played at 45 RPM: that is, much better than a Jane’s Addiction LP. Peter Margasak

Credit: Kathryna Hancock

Giorgio Moroder

When Brian Eno was in Berlin working with David Bowie, Giorgio Moroder was in Munich recording Donna Summer, and it was Eno, describing Summer and Moroder’s work on the 1977 smash “I Feel Love,” who famously said, “I have heard the sound of future.” Moroder’s arpeggiated synthesizer melodies still sound inspired nearly four decades later, but the producer-composer’s career had been flatlined for nearly 25 years when it got a jolt in 2013 from his appearance on “Giorgio by Moroder,” a standout from Daft Punk‘s nostalgic, ultracheesy, and totally fun Random Access Memories. Moroder’s recent live shows have been DJ sets, but a DJ set by the guy who produced Donna Summer and Sparks and composed the Scarface theme is more worthwhile than 90 percent of what’s at the festival. Tal Rosenberg

Credit: Peter Hapak


Beck Hansen has never made loneliness sound as gorgeous as he does on this year’s Morning Phase (Capitol). It’s been compared to his 2002 breakup album, Sea Change, but it’s more elegant and thoughtful. His lyrics suffuse desolation with vulnerability and hope, and his slower-than-leisurely tempos feel more contemplative than depressed. He stretches his deep, lugubrious voice to lend fragile beauty to melodies that could’ve been maudlin, aided by rhythms so restrained they sometimes that seem artificially slowed down—on “Unforgiven,” drummer James Gadson inserts a pregnant pause just as Hansen sings, “I will wait for you.” Lush string arrangements by Hansen’s father, David Campbell, add extra gravity to several tracks, including hovering, beatless post-Radiohead paranoia of “Wave” or the contrapuntal stabs on the relatively brisk “Blackbird Chain.” Judging by reviews of earlier shows on this tour, Hansen cordons off Morning Phase songs from his extroverted party material—if he plays more than one or two of them here, it’ll probably be in a block. Peter Margasak


Thursday, July 17

Chifork unofficial Pitchfork kickoff party with The-Drum, STV SLV, Charlie Glitch, Zebo, Teen Witch Fanclub, and DJ Miss Alex White 10 PM, Berlin, free with RSVP at, 21+

Friday, July 18

Cloud Nothings (see Saturday), Wytches 11 PM, Schubas, sold out, 18+

Deafheaven (see Sunday), Perfect Pussy (see Sunday) 10:30 PM, Bottom Lounge, $12, $10 in advance, 17+

FKA Twigs (see Saturday) 10:30 PM, Bottom Lounge (upstairs), $15, 17+

Liars, Vatican Shadow, Dave P., Sammy Slice 10 PM, the Mid, free with RSVP

Mas Ysa (see Saturday), Dutch E Germ 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, $10

Total Freedom, Deejay Earl, Dos Global, Psycho Egyptian, Devin x Bengfang, Asphalt K Start time after Pitchfork ends for the night, Elee.Mosynary Gallery, 645 W. 18th, $10, 21+

Wild Beasts (see Saturday), Mutual Benefit (see Sunday) 11 PM, Lincoln Hall, $25, $15 with wristband, 18+