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The Reader's guide to the Pitchfork Music Festival: Friday

A rundown of the essentials, 5 recommended itineraries, and of course reviews of all of Friday's acts on the bill



See our reviews of the bands playing on Saturday & Sunday

Get prepared for every hour of Pitchfork with our five Friday itineraries, compiled by staff, contributors, comrades, and readers.

Have a look at tonight's afterparties, counterfests, and more.

Have a listen to what you'll be seeing today, with staff writer Peter Margasak's Spotify playlist.

[Recommended] 3:20 Outer Minds What distinguishes Outer Minds from garage rock's huddled masses are the Mamas & the Papas-style vocal harmonies of guitarist Zach Medearis, keyboardist Mary McKane, and tambourine whacker Gina Lira, which imbue the band's grotty Nuggets-style punk (bashed out by Medearis, bassist Aaron "A-Ron" Orlowski, and drummer Brian Costello, who's also a Reader contributor) with an incongruously sunny Technicolor vibe. On the band's self-titled debut album for Southpaw, the harmony parts sometimes outshine the workmanlike melodies, but it sure is nice to hear a retro garage band aiming for something more than a Neanderthal stomp—and even better, Outer Minds embrace pop polish without losing the raw energy and rhythmic drive of punk. —Peter Margasak Blue stage

3:30 Lower Dens Jana Hunter, the magnetic singer for Baltimore's Lower Dens, has always used her austere delivery as a kind of calling card, shaping melodies with an almost ascetic restraint. Lower Dens' second album, Noo­tropics (Ribbon Music), perfects a sumptuously moody setting for her haunting voice, full of reverb-soaked guitar, atmospheric analog synth, and murky yet insistent grooves; the band teases out a tunefulness in the songs that might otherwise go unnoticed. Also tonight at the Empty Bottle, 21+. —Peter Margasak Red stage

  • Jamie James Medina

[Recommended] 4:15 Willis Earl Beal In July 2011 I introduced the world to Willis Earl Beal with a B Side cover feature for the Reader, and among the folks who noticed were the staff of XL imprint Hot Charity—the label went on to release Beal's official debut, Acousmatic Sorcery. (Full disclosure: XL paid me to write a bio for his album release.) The telling and retelling of Beal's story has turned him into something of a mythical character, but in his hypnotizing home-recorded antifolk tunes, he reveals himself as a vulnerable, multidimensional individual. The songs are as vibrant and endearing as they are messy and chaotic, and Beal's warm, powerful voice—a soft, angelic croon on one track, a heart-stricken howl on the next—makes each melody shimmer and float. His music is personal and playful, which comes across even more clearly in his disarmingly earnest live performances. —Leor Galil Blue stage

[Recommended] 4:35 The Olivia Tremor Control Lovers of indie rock will largely agree that there was no better time and place for the genre than the mid- to late 90s in Athens, Georgia. Having lived there during those years, I can tell you it was magical. The Elephant 6 collective—composed of Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, Elf Power, and the Olivia Tremor Control, among others—created a cacophonous soundtrack to that lush and languid college town. The ramshackle art project of a house that E6 used as home base, dubbed "the Landfill," played host to life-affirming and exceedingly weird parties, as did the incomparable 40 Watt Club. Fifteen years later, how does the music translate? It's hard to divorce myself from the personal impact those bands had on my formative years, but having seen the Olivia Tremor Control play the Bottom Lounge last September, I can say that their blissed-out psychedelia continues to make my heart race. I'm far from alone. As Village Voice music editor Maura Johnston recently observed on Twitter: "It's kind of amazing how the Olivia Tremor Control's music can still make my spirits soar even on my most bummed-out days." My response then—and now: "I could really use some Dusk at Cubist Castle today." Also Sun 7/15 at Reggie's Rock Club, 21+. —Mara Shalhoup Green stage

[Recommended] 5:15 Tim Hecker Last year electronic musician Tim Hecker released a pair of records made with acoustic keyboards. Ravedeath, 1972 and Dropped Pianos share the same cover photo—a piano being tipped off the top of a building—and though there are no unceremonious crashes on either album, the picture still says plenty about what Hecker did to his source material. He's processed the former release's church-organ chords so radically that they seem to burst open and emit sky-wide spectra of fuzz and bass, and he's coated the latter's piano figures in so much digital dust that they feel more remembered than heard. In concert Hecker typically performs spontaneous rearrangements of his material in total darkness, the better to keep everyone's focus on the music; it ought to be interesting to see what new facets of his work he discovers under a bright July sky. —Bill Meyer Blue stage

[Recommended] 5:30 A$AP Rocky Last year young Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky burst out the gate like Cam'ron reincarnate with a provocative persona, a nonchalant disregard of criticism, and the microphone talent to back it up. Despite his hometown, he's heavily indebted to the purple sounds of Houston hip-hop, and with his frequent collaborations—directing a Danny Brown video, bringing up his whole A$AP crew—he's helping to establish a united federation of borderless, genre-challenging rappers. —Miles Raymer Red stage

6:15 Japandroids Guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse, aka Vancouver duo Japandroids, made a name for themselves with the uncomplicated garage of 2009's Post-­Nothing, and on the new Celebration Rock (Poly­vinyl) they basically stay the course—the album mixes lo-fi feedback with the kind of enthusiastic, arena-ready jams destined to soundtrack coming-of-age films about the good old days. Though the worlds of sentimental, cheesy rock and grimy DIY punk rarely intersect, these dudes can make the combination sound natural; with their soaring melodies and impassioned vocal harmonies, they capture the golden spirit of summer that so many similar records strive for. Also Thu 7/12 at Lincoln Hall, sold out, 21+. —Leor Galil Blue stage

6:25 Big K.R.I.T. A proud part of the southern tradition of tough male rappers who aren't afraid of their emotions or their brains, MC and producer Big K.R.I.T. (a native of Meridian, Mississippi) first attracted national attention with his 2010 mix tape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. His lyrics alternate between celebrating the obvious perks of life as a somewhat well-known rapper and struggling with the moral consequences of them, as well as with his overall place in the world—but his beats keep that baggage from weighing everything down. —Miles Raymer Green stage


[Recommended] 7:15 Clams Casino New Jersey producer Clams Casino, also known as Mike Volpe, has talked enthusiastically in interviews about his obsession with turn-of-the-millennium rap, but his own work—beats for Lil B and A$AP Rocky, remixes for Lana Del Rey, instrumental mix tapes that prove his stuff stands up just fine without a vocalist—has little to do with the bling era's forceful sound. Moody, heavy with reverb, and full of strange samples (Volpe says he's found some of them by searching file-sharing services for words such as "blue" or "cold"), his tracks are so blissed-out chill they're like aural Xanax. —Miles Raymer Blue stage

[Recommended] 7:20 Dirty Projectors In a recent Pitchfork interview, Dirty Projectors brain trust David Longstreth explained how his band's fantastic new album, Swing Lo Magellan (Domino), differs from its equally sublime predecessor, Bitte Orca. "You could say Bitte is about the idea of songs, but these are just songs. It's less about self-­consciously appropriating elements of other styles and putting them together in some clever way." Recorded with a new lineup that doesn't include singer Angel Deradoorian, Swing Lo Magellan is pretty straightforward for a Dirty Projectors album—some songs, among them the strummy title track, could almost be outtakes from Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding, and the closer, "Irresponsible Tune," uses doo-wop harmonies that make it sound like a Nick Lowe number. But the band's trademark loopiness and complexity remain: hard-rock guitars interrupt the cooing vocal harmonies of "Offspring Are Blank," and the lovely melody of "See What She Seeing" gets a run for its money from scrabbling percussion, stately strings, and swooping voices. —Peter Margasak Red stage


[Recommended] 8:20 Purity Ring Lately Canada seems to be producing a lot of weird electronic-pop acts with crossover potential—among them Grimes, Born Gold, Kuhrye-oo, and Edmonton duo Purity Ring, who signed to 4AD on the strength of a few singles. The band keeps up its hot streak on its forthcoming debut album, Shrines; it's an ecstatic listen, with Megan James's gentle coo pumping plenty of heart into Corin Roddick's twerky, often unsettling beats. Also tonight at Schubas, 18+. —Leor Galil Blue stage

[Recommended] 8:30 Feist Leslie Feist recorded her most recent album, Metals (Cherrytree/Interscope), in a single room with just a few people, including longtime collaborators Chilly Gonzalez and Mocky. It's intensely intimate, even on the songs that are explosively extroverted—including "A Commotion," where on the chorus a small group shouts the title with martial sobriety, and "The Bad in Each Other," which rides on a swooping, walloping beat. The production doesn't compress the music's dynamic range like most big-budget efforts, but instead lets the quiet parts whisper and the loud parts roar. Her songs are accessible but not mass-audience slick, preferring insinuation to declaration both in their cryptic lyrics and wide-open, pin-drop arrangements. Feist's previous efforts grabbed me instantly, but this album has instead been sinking slowly into my brain. —Peter Margasak Green stage

Your day's not over yet. There's lots more to do at Pitchfork's afterparties.

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