PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL: Julia Holter, Carly Rae Jepsen, Circuit Des Yeux, and More

Heading to Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend? With performances by artists such as Beach House, Sufjan Stevens, Royal Headache, Blood Orange, Miguel, FKA Twigs + more, we'd be surprised if you weren't. We'll be at the festival all weekend weighing in on all of our favorite moments and capturing some of the best performances, but in the meantime, Hooligan writers wrote up a quick list of six artists whose sets we're not missing out on this weekend.
 

JULIA HOLTER
7/15, green stage, 4:35pm

  PHOTO BY RICK BAHTO

PHOTO BY RICK BAHTO

By Eileen Marshall

I think it's safe to say that Carly Rae Jepsen is a big draw for a lot of this year's festival-goers. If you're planning to camp out at the Green Stage on Friday to await the queen of
E•mo•tion, you're in luck, because you're going to see Julia Holter, whose experimental orchestral pop acumen made her album Have You In My Wilderness one of last year's best.

Expect a string quartet supporting Holter's keys and silver-smooth voice (though she's from Los Angeles, her vocal style sounds accented; it's reminiscent of Françoise Hardy), backed by traditional rock drums. Her latest work moves away from the ambient abstraction of her other work and toward the kind of thing you'll want to sing along to, but the lyrics remain weird: her songs delineate dreamlike vignettes; the lines are dizzyingly vivid, complementing the rich swirls of the instrumentation. Lines like "Is it time to dance? / I'll fall; you know I like to fall / I'm hopeful for / The rush hour car" feel like a poem that evokes more than it explains, or a clue in Twin Peaks. Holter's wilderness may be disorienting, but it is an exceedingly pleasant place to be.

Fans of Beach House will likely appreciate Holter as well, which is convenient: the critically-acclaimed dream pop outfit closes out Friday's Green Stage lineup.

 

TWIN PEAKS
7/15, red stage, 5:30pm

  PHOTO BY POONEH GHANA

PHOTO BY POONEH GHANA

By Genevieve Kane

For those unfamiliar with Twin Peaks, you may be thinking to yourself, “I swear I’ve heard that name before. Why do I know that name?” No, Twin Peaks is not the Dallas based chain restaurant. Or the hit cult classic show that suddenly just swarmed hip art kids by storm. Once you listen to the band Twin Peaks, you will never confuse any of these again.

Twin Peaks holds serious roots in Chicago, which of late has been a hotbed for new and promising artists. The band holds ties to the Smith Westerns, another Chicago band which has frequented music festivals such as Lolla and Pitchfork. Twin Peaks is known for their 60’s garage rock vibes, which are very reminiscent of later works of the Beach Boys. If the Beatles and the Pixies were to procreate and produce a musical child, the result would be Twin Peaks. A summer staple jam of mine is the song Making Breakfast, from their 2014 album Wild Onion. If you are a fan of The Walters, The Orwells, Joe Bordenaro, or everyone’s favorite dad Mac Demarco, then you will certainly dig Twin Peaks. These bands are on the forefront of this new wave of garage rock, which seems to be a fusion of 60’s psychedelia and 80’s punk, and they are making their mark on Chicago and trust me when I say that you do not want to miss out on it.

If you haven’t done so yet, I urge you to look up Twin Peaks right now. Their music videos border the bizarre, and never fail to amuse or perplex. Whenever I listen to Twin Peaks I feel as though I am being included in some exclusive friend group that somehow knows the secret to a halcyon life and, that by hanging out with them, am making the most of my youth. If you are looking for a good dose of garage rock on Friday, then make sure you include Twin Peaks in your lineup.

 

CARLY RAE JEPSEN
7/15, green stage, 6:25pm

By Rivka Yeker

Since releasing
Emotion, Carly Rae Jepsen has reached the hearts of queers, femmes, and punks alike. With the help of releasing visually pleasing and socially progressive music videos like "Boy Problems", she has managed to shift perspectives on how pop music should be and what (femme) pop artists should say. Jepsen's music is unbelievably catchy, but her work is also great for relatable belting-in-the-car-with-your-friends summer jams. Make sure you grab the most excited looking person in the crowd and embrace your femininity at Carly Rae @ Pitchfork!

You'll dig this if: you didn't realize that full-length pop albums could be as good as ABBA's until you heard Emotion.

 

CIRCUIT DES YEUX
7/16, green stage, 1:00pm

  BY SAMANTHA SATURDAY

BY SAMANTHA SATURDAY

By Eileen Marshall

"I just try to keep it real, and she was always keeping it so unreal." This is one description of Jackie Lynn, the elusive outlaw singer after whom Haley Fohr's new album is named, offered in the short documentary that accompanied the album's release. It's funny because Jackie is not real; Fohr, the Chicago-based experimental musician who records under the Circuit des Yeux moniker, invented her. On Jackie Lynn—released last month and credited either to Jackie Lynn or Circuit des Yeux, depending who you ask—Fohr pushes the trope of the mythic rags-to-riches-to-rags star by crafting a literally-mythical persona with a wild backstory and framing the record as her character's creation. It's an interesting project, and one that gave Fohr space to explore her range: her trademark tenor warble is gentler here than elsewhere, the songs are more compact, and drum machines and synths come to the fore, displacing the orchestral strings and woodwinds of her previous work.

My own introduction to Fohr came about a year ago when I went to one of her shows on a whim; I came away profoundly impressed. She is a commanding performer, and I'm excited to see her play again, though I don't necessarily expect to see much of her face: live, she's often cloaked by a curtain of her own hair, as though concealing herself as puppet master or playing Wizard of Oz. If she's styled as Jackie Lynn, however, that will mean white suit, red cowboy hat, and heavy-duty dust mask, for some reason. We'll see.

Circuit des Yeux kicks off Saturday's lineup, so be sure to get there early to catch this can't-miss set.

 

JENNY HVAL
7/16, blue stage, 3:45pm

  PHOTO BY JENNY BERGER MYHRE

PHOTO BY JENNY BERGER MYHRE

By Eileen Marshall

Jenny Hval's 2015 album Apocalypse, girl opens with an imperative: "Think ... big ... girl"—the words are whispered but pronounced slowly and clearly; they are soft and sure. What follows answers the command while also challenging what it means to think big, and what it means to be a girl.

Hval is concerned with dualities and in-betweens, with the "amphibious, androgynous," to quote 2013's Innocence Is Kinky (whose title itself plays with the blurring of binaries). On Apocalypse, girl, she meditates on life and death, body and spirit, crucifixion and rebirth. Sonically, the record achieves a balance between atmosphere and hook, layering catchy vocal melodies over patchworks of found sound reminiscent of the Books, and ranging from the jazzy pop of "That Battle Is Over" to the hypnotic ten-minute drone of album closer "Holy Land", where Hval's voice swings between a low growl and an airy coo. It's an album you could fall asleep to, but you could just as easily attend to its every word as you would reading a book. In fact, Hval studied writing and has published a novel, and it shows in her lyrics, which have obviously been crafted carefully; Pitchfork's review of Apocalypse, girl aptly compares Hval's writing to the text art of Jenny Holzer and Tracey Emin.

It's music that's good to listen to when everything else makes you feel your feelings too much: while there is emotional content here, it's mediated by analysis and tempered by humor. "Feminism's over, and socialism's over. Yeah, say I can consume what I want now," Hval croons as though the lines would make good sexting fodder. Later she tackles gender roles in love relationships, musing, "It would be easy to think about submission, but I don't think it's about submission; it's about holding and being held"—even the album's most tender moments are filtered through Hval's "complex and intellectual" worldview.

Then there is her live show, which verges on performance art or something out of Beckett. Watch this excerpt (trigger warning: blood) and then decide whether you can afford to skip out on Hval's set on Saturday. Oh, also: you can expect to hear some eerie new material in advance of her forthcoming album, Blood Bitch; check out "Female Vampire", its first single.

 

THE HOTELIER
7/17, blue stage, 5:45pm

By Rivka Yeker

The Hotelier has been around for a while now, rounding up all the pop-punk kids with their first record
It Never Goes Out in 2011. Their progression has been impressive, and with the release of their second record, Home, Like NoPlace Is There, people were blown away (I know I listened to it once a day for a long time when it first came out). They matured in their lyricism, their sound, storytelling, and the overall production of (what I presume to be) a perfect record. They just came out with their most recent album, Goodness, which has taken me quite a few listens to truly understand the direction that this band is attempting to go in. I'm still not sure, but I know I like it. It's honest and pretty, and something I don't think anyone should miss live. Vocalist Christian Holden has always made intimate venues seem like tiny bedrooms, filling each corner with an impressive and powerful voice. This is a band you do not want to look over, but be prepared to be a bit shaken up and calmed down all at once.

You'd dig this if: you were into the whole emo revival thing, but are tired of white dudes yelling about ex-girlfriends in really straight-forward and aggressive ways and want to hear something with more substance and meaning, but with the same kind of pop punk/emo musical elements