PREVIEW: Top 10 Acts to Watch at Pitchfork 2019

Grapetooth photographed by Morgan Winston

Pitchfork Music Festival is almost upon us. The three-day lineup far exceeds our expectations, making the selection process for Top 10 Acts to Watch extremely difficult. Iconic performers spanning across nearly every genre, from dance-pop to post-punk, are sure to make this festival one of the best yet. Here are EMMIE’s picks for the must-see acts of Pitchfork 2019.

1. Charli XCX (@charli_xcx) Sunday, July 21

How could we NOT put Charli XCX at the top of this list? The UK singer’s highly-anticipated third studio album Charli is overflowing with collaborations (including fellow Pitchfork performers HAIM, Sky Ferreira, and Clairo). I’m anticipating at least one guest appearance and wouldn’t be mad if long-time collaborator cupcakKe and shows up to recreate their iconic Lollapalooza 2017 performance. This dance-pop queen will have one of the most buzzworthy performances of the weekend, just you wait and see.

— Morgan Winston

2. HAIM (@haimtheband) Friday, July 19

LA born and raised rockers HAIM have blessed us this year by claiming the Friday night headlining spot. The three sisters captivated the world with their first two albums Days Are Gone and Something to Tell You and are now teasing new material in cryptic social media postings. One thing’s for sure, we won’t know what they have planned for their set until they take the stage. Talent and mystery, what more could you ask for at Pitchfork?

— Morgan Winston

3. CHAI (@chaiofficialjpn) Saturday, July 20

CHAI is a dumpling-loving, all-female quartet all the way from Nagoya, Japan. Their band centers around being “Neo-Kawaii” or “New-Cute,” a term they coined to redefine what it means to be “kawaii” or cute. Through their empowering lyrics and perfect blend of pop, funk and rock, CHAI challenge listeners to embrace the traits they were born with and human imperfections. If you weren’t lucky enough to catch CHAI on their brief visits to the US, you absolutely cannot miss their performance this weekend. 

— Mercy Xiong

4. Parquet Courts (Parquet Courts) Saturday, July 20

Since 2011, Parquet Courts have been treating fans to punk, garage rock and lots of political wokeness, which their latest album Wide Awake definitely attests to. From the guitar riffs to front man Andrew Savage’s wit, you are guaranteed a good time with Parquet Courts.

In addition, Parquet Courts have unveiled a beer with Goose Island where all proceeds will go to Freedom for Immigrants. Make sure to grab a can!

— Mercy Xiong

5. Sky Ferreira (@skyferreira) Friday, July 19

The last time Sky Ferreira performed in Chicago was in 2013. She was touring for her debut album Night Time, My Time with Sam Westerns. Since then, Ferreira has appeared in several films and TV shows, done some modelling, and dropped one original song. Her long-awaited return has us excited for what’s in store for her Friday set.

— Mercy Xiong

6. Whitney (@whitneyband) Sunday, July 21

Yet another group whose set will be influenced by an upcoming release are Chicago indie sweethearts Whitney. “Giving Up,” the first single off of Forever Turned Around, plays into the softer elements of their 2016 debut Light Upon the Lake. Lead singer Julien Ehrlich’s melodic voice is always a joy to listen to, but I hope that Whitney takes some risks at Pitchfork. The combined musicianship of their typical 7-member band gives them an opportunity to show off for the hometown crowd.

— Morgan Winston

7. black midi (@bmblackmidi) Sunday, July 21

In a short period of time, black midi has become one of the most captivating bands in the UK. The experimental rock band gained a cult following quickly after playing a few gigs. Following the release of their debut album Schlagenheim, black midi has been receiving lots of good press, including a raving review from Pitchfork that secured them a “best New Music” badge. Their sets are known to be mesmerizing experiences, so we definitely can’t wait to see what they’re up to next weekend.

— Mercy Xiong

8. Tirzah (@tirzahmusic) Saturday, July 20

If there’s one thing Tirzah’s music will make you do, it’s fall in love. The British songstress rose to fame with her 2018 release Devotion. Co-produced and co-written by Micachu, the album perfectly blends pop, R&B into love stories that will infect you with smiles. Her quiet yet intimate songs along accompanied by wispy vocals- we are counting down the days until this masterpiece plays at Pitchfork.

— Mercy Xiong

9. Earl Sweatshirt (@soapmanwun) Friday, July 19

Since cancelling his Pitchfork set last year, Thebe Kgositsile, who we all know by Earl Sweatshirt, has released the critically-acclaimed Some Rap Songs, which our beloved ex-albums editor declared as 2018’s “defining rap project.” Earl’s rap career started when he joined Odd Future at the age of 15. Fast forward ten years later, Earl has become one of the most talented lyricists in rap and cemented himself as an innovative and consistent artist. The teen-prodigy-turned-rap-icon will take on the Red Stage on Friday (and hopefully not cancel). 

— Mercy Xiong

10. Grapetooth (@grapetooth) Friday, July 19

Chicago’s very own Grapetooth nabs the final spot on this list due to their happy, infectious tunes and their boisterous stage presence. Like the wine described in “Red Wine,” their music is “so easy goin’ down.” Clay Frankel (of Twin Peaks fame) and Chris Bailoni (who has previously released music under the moniker Home-Sick) feed off of crowds unlike any duo I have ever seen. Their live shows are filled with so much energy it’s hard to avoid losing yourself in the experience, making them a perfect addition to any summer festival.

— Morgan Winston

Keep up with us as we cover Pitchfork Music Festival 2019 this July 19-27 on Instagram @emmiemagazine! Find more updates on the festival via the Pitchfork official Instagram @pitchforkfest and #P4Kfest hashtag.

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