Thursday, I board Southwest Flight 729, departing from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and landing in Chicago Midway International Airport. For what purpose? Pitchfork Music Festival.[ref]Full disclosure: I am a contributing writer to Pitchfork.[/ref] Is this for personal, business, or both, Southwest’s site asked me. Both, I clicked. That’s the great part of being a music writer. Watching bands is YOUR JOB.

Enough about me. Pitchfork always manages to be eclectic where most fests merely claim to do so. Yeah, you’ve got the usual suspects, the Risings and the Best New Musics in full effect. But not many festivals are willing to have Bjork, Belle And Sebastian, AND R. Kelly as headliners. Hell, that’d be a true statement if “and” was replaced by “or.” Their token metal bands are better than most–KEN Mode is a better bet than The Sword. All in all, I can drive to ACL, but I’d much rather fly to Pitchfork.

Here’s who I’m most anticipating at Pitchfork this year, assuming I don’t die from beef-and-metal-induced coma at Kuma’s, find out I’m not what Chief Keef likes, or snap at someone for calling soda “pop” on Thursday.


Out of all the headliners, R. Kelly wins hands down. This is the man behind the signature song of the aughts: “Ignition (Remix).” That song is over 10 years old now, and it still gets you wet, gender be damned. His Bonnaroo show was reportedly an, um, interesting affair. And I can’t act like I’m not concerned about people who may be all “TRAPPED IN THE CLOSET LOLZ” and not actually watch his set. Chicago, however, is Kells’ home turf. He’s as much a part of the town as cash in white envelopes and poppy seed buns.


Pitchfork is going to get so bummed out. Swans make powerful music, but totally at your expense. They’ll make you into a newer, happier, better person, all after they beat you down and make you feel insignificant. Michael Gira takes your hate and processes it into something beautiful. More words would fail me. You just have to see them.


I was once not like you. I scoffed at the notion that Beyonce’s sister was worth seeing. “Oh my God, Bey might be there!” You would say. Then, I heard “Losing You.” Starts bouncy and Chic-y, but it quickly morphs into a solemn, lush tale of lost love. Dancey and sad at the same time. I’m still mostly not like you. But I’ll watch her for “Losing.” Hope she plays it in the first 20 minutes, because if she plays at 8:25. . .


. . . and British minimal techno artist Andy Stott begins at 8:45. That description may not seem like much, but try going to bed after “Sleepless.” Yeah, you’re in a goddamn trance. While he was at Chaos, I was getting sketchy watching the Quebecois black metal outfit Akitsa. Timmy Hefner knows how to book ’em.


He’s playing the same day as Kells. Someone might make a guest appearance, no? Can we handle that much Based in one evening?


How are all of these weekenders gonna react to Trash Talk? Will they be scared by the guitars, or the potential for hurling trash cans and broken legs? Will Lee be able to work such a big, diverse crowd? Sure as hell he can.


If Run the Jewels isn’t your shit, well, make it your shit.


Are you about the #noiselife? Then this aftershow might be better than the fest itself. Wolf Eyes are a noise institution, burning minds and making animals out of humans for a while now. And they count Andrew W.K. as an ex-member. Pharmakon’s Abandon is one of the best noise records this year. Marshstepper’s set is supposed to be lifechanging. Bottom Lounge Saturday, you ain’t ready.


LOL JK, I don’t like Pavement or Pavement rip off bands.

— Andy O’Connor