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Vocalo’s 2023 Most Anticipated Pitchfork Music Fest Performances

Written by on July 18, 2023

The Smile, Big Thief and Bon Iver headline; plus, we share some of the acts we are most excited to see.

Organizers of the three-day Pitchfork Music Festival announced the lineup for the event in March. The fest is scheduled for July 21-23 at Chicago’s Union Park. Perhaps the most notable programmatic shift is that the Sunday programming, which historically leaned more heavily into Urban Alternative performers (such as Toro y Moi, Noname, Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus) is headlined this year by Bon Iver. There also aren’t any of the throwback acts that were earmarks of the fest in years past, a’la George Clinton in 2017 or Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys) performing in 2016… That is unless you count The Smile, which is made up of Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead with drummer Tom Skinner, or perhaps Panda Bear + Sonic Boom (members of aughts indie darling band Animal Collective and 80s alt-rock band Spacemen 3, respectively). 

The lineup has solid representation of femme-identified-led acts (highlights include Kelela, Koffee, Grace Ives and local favorite Ariel Zetina [who we profiled in 2021], and a smattering of local acts but overall, there a number of acts that we are particularly interested in checking out at the festival.


Friday, July 21:

1:00-1:40pm: Nourished by Time (Green Stage)
1:45-2:25pm: Contour (Red Stage)
2:30-3:15pm: Sen Morimoto (Green)
2:45-3:30pm: Mavi (Blue Stage)
3:20-4:10pm: Grace Ives (Red)
4:00-4:45pm: Axel Boman (Blue)
4:15-5:10pm: Youth Lagoon (Green)
5:15-6:10pm: Nation of Language (Red)
5:15-6:00pm: Jlin (Blue)
6:15-7:15pm: Perfume Genius (Green)
6:30-7:15pm: Ric Wilson (Blue)
7:25-8:25pm: Alvvays (Red)
7:45-8:30pm: Leikeli47 (Blue)
8:30-9:50pm: The Smile (Green)

With respect to local acts, perennial favorite Ric Wilson is poised to hit the stage on Friday, fresh off the announcement of a brand new project with Chromeo and A-Trak called CLUSTERFUNK, set for release on March 31. Locally-based multi-instrumentalist (and Sooper Records co-owner) Sen Morimoto, also scheduled for Friday, is squarely on our list of must-sees, as well. More adventurous fans of electronic music should also check out Jlin, the Gary, Indiana raised artist/producer known for monastic and often-footwork-infused work.

Rounding out our recommendations for Friday are indie synth-pop artist Grace Ives, whose “Icing on the Cake” is giving “White Horse”-by-Laid-Back 80’s club kid vibes in the best way.


Saturday, July 22:

1:00-1:40pm: Deeper (Green)
1:45-2:25pm: Palm (Red)
2:30-3:15pm: 700 Bliss (Green)
2:45-3:30pm: Black Belt Eagle Scout (Blue)
3:20-4:10pm: MJ Lenderman (Red)
4:00-4:45pm: Vagabon (Blue)
4:15-5:10pm: Panda Bear & Sonic Boom (Green)
5:15-6:10pm: Snail Mail (Red)
5:15-6:00pm: Julia Jacklin (Blue)
6:15-7:15pm: King Krule (Green)
6:30-7:15pm: Yaya Bey (Blue)
7:25-8:25pm: Weyes Blood (Red)
7:45-8:30pm: Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul (Blue)
8:30-9:50pm: Big Thief (Green)

Depending on what you want out of your Saturday experience, there are a couple of interesting lanes. Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul give us edgy new wave disco with a sense of humor and a touch of soul while Yaya Bey is a wonder of lo-fi soul, jazz and a judicious slice of reggae. Meanwhile, if your spirit album is Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, you likely need to see Panda Bear + Sonic Boom, with a Black Belt Eagle Scout chaser. The Cameroonian singer-songwriter Vagabon might appeal to both sensibilities. Even if you aren’t familiar, you may have caught the inclusion of her track “Water Me Down” on Episode 4 of Swarm (which dropped on Amazon Prime on Friday March 17). Her smoky, mournful voice will help fans take the edge off the week.


1:00-1:40pm: Ariel Zetina (Green)
1:45-2:25pm: Rachika Nayar (Red)
2:30-3:15pm: Lucrecia Dalt (Green)
2:45-3:30pm: Florist (Blue)
3:20-4:10pm: Jockstrap (Red)
4:00-4:45pm: Soul Glo (Blue)
4:15-5:10pm: JPEGMafia (Green)
5:15-6:10pm: Killer Mike (Red)
5:15-6:00pm: ILLUMINATI HOTTIES (Blue)
6:15-7:15pm: Koffee (Green)
6:30-7:15pm: Hurray for the Riff Raff (Blue)
7:25-8:25pm: Kelela (Red)
7:45-8:30pm: Mdou Moctar (Blue)
8:30-9:50pm: Bon Iver (Green)

If you are a true dyed-in-the-wool hardcore Afropunk kid, then you probably really are going to be jazzed to see Soul Glo, named after the classic Coming To America bit. Jamaican pop singer Koffee is a Vocalo favorite (her track “West Indies” was one of our most played tracks of 2022), and in light of the sold-out Kelela show that Vocalo presented here on March 18, the indie alt-r&b songstress is a must see. Mdou Moctar‘s psychedelic Tuareg desert blues is set like a perfect stone on Sunday, and local artist Ariel Zetina is a hypnotic acid-house flavored Sunday situation we also recommend. If indie hip hop is your preferred Sunday vibe, the festival has you covered as well, with Killer Mike and JPEGMafia each scheduled to hit the stage.

RELATED: Chicago DJ/Producer Ariel Zetina Makes Music For People to Dance To

Full Lineup

++ Local

** Vocalo Recommends

The Smile
Perfume Genius
Nation of Language
Youth Lagoon
Ric Wilson++**
Grace Ives**
Jlin++ [Gary, IN]
Axel Boman (Live)
Sen Morimoto++**

Big Thief
Weyes Blood
King Krule
Snail Mail
Panda Bear + Sonic Boom
Julia Jacklin
Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul**
MJ Lenderman
Yaya Bey **
Black Belt Eagle Scout
700 Bliss


Bon Iver
Killer Mike**
Hurray For the Riff Raff
Mdou Moctar**
Soul Glo**
Lucrecia Dalt
Rachika Nayar
Ariel Zetina ++**

More info regarding the festival can be found here

Written by Ayana Contreras

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