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

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



See our reviews of the bands playing on Friday & Sunday

Get prepared for every hour of Pitchfork with our five Saturday 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 digital content editor Tal Rosenberg's Spotify playlist:

[Recommended] 1:00 The Atlas Moth This Chicago metal band's towering three-guitar roar carries bits of ass-shaking southern rock, misanthropic New Orleans sludge, and narcotic psychedelia the way a hurricane carries bits of aluminum siding. Last fall the Atlas Moth released their second full-length, An Ache for the Distance (Profound Lore), which balances the crushing and the uplifting almost perfectly. On one hand you've got a bluesy, swaggering grind of the Slow Southern Steel persuasion, and on the other you've got the sort of austere and crystalline guitar ambience favored by Isis fans and the beardy contingent of the black-metal community—a duality mirrored by the pairing of paint-scouring screams and clean, melodic vocals. The new songs are tighter and less sprawling too, which ought to help out today—especially considering the dearth of metalheads in the typical Pitchfork crowd. Also tonight at Ultra Lounge, 21+. —Philip Montoro Blue stage

[Recommended] 1:00 The Psychic Paramount In early 2011, six years after their debut full-length, Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural, Brooklyn instrumental trio the Psychic Paramount dropped II (No Quarter), confirming its continued command of mind-melting firebombs of fuzz. The album is a triumph of grotty, distorted grooves, chugging Krautrock rhythms, and psych-infused guitar trails that can remind me of Comets on Fire, often wrapped in a tattered sheet of cosmic noise and filth. The nine-minute tour de force "DDB" would make a perfect template for structuring an instrumental: begin with jazzy, mathy drumming and heavily delay-treated guitar, quickly upshift to freak-out mode, pull the rip cord to topple some massive pillars of noise, rock it strange with looped riffs, and end with a disjointed mess of instruments smashing into one another. Patent it. —Kevin Warwick Green stage

  • Ryan Manning

1:45 Cloud Nothings Despite its trebly, quick-­stepping power chords and agitated rhythmic drive, Cloud Nothings' latest album, Attack on Memory (Carpark), doesn't sound like it's seen much daylight, thanks to the wounded songwriting of bandleader Dylan Baldi. But not to worry—the Cleveland indie rockers pack enough power into their longing-drenched lo-fi that this set should be fun in the sun, even if they don't play any of their earlier, perkier singles. —Asher Klein Red stage

1:55 Lotus Plaza When Lockett Pundt isn't playing guitar for Deerhunter, he's fronting this bleary, stratospheric guitar-pop group. Pundt has been responsible for some of the best tracks on the most recent Deerhunter albums ("Desire Lines," "Agoraphobia," "Fountain Stars"), and he asserts his songwriting chops on Lotus Plaza's recent, terrific album, Spooky Action at a Distance (Kranky). If you liked Kurt Vile's set at last year's Pitchfork festival, you'll want to check this out. Also Fri 7/13 at Subterranean, 17+. —Tal Rosenberg Blue stage

[Recommended] 2:30 Atlas Sound Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox seems to be on a quest for human connection on last year's Parallax (4AD), his third and most accomplished album as Atlas Sound. Cox grapples with the vulnerability that's a prerequisite to any meaningful bond, whether he's describing a Howard Hughes type who realizes he collects friends like objects ("The Shakes") or portraying a lost soul yearning for deliverance ("Praying Man"). As usual Cox plays almost everything, frequently overdubbing multiple parts on a single instrument or bathing his fragile croon and ambling drums in milky reverb; on a few tunes the music fades into waves of gently gurgling noise. Though previous Atlas Sound records have all been pretty bleak, this time around Cox leavens many of the songs with hope, hooky melodies, and even straight-up beauty. —Peter Margasak Green stage

2:50 Liturgy Call 'em transcendental black metal or call 'em poseur bullshit, but the fact is that Liturgy released one of last year's most absorbing albums. Aesthethica (Thrill Jockey) blends the shrill shrieks of polarizing front man Hunter Hunt-Hendrix into five-­minute machine-gun-beat crescendos, creating an entrancing sound that's somehow both eerie and serene, cocooned in timelessness despite its insane propulsive drive. When a monstrous, galloping epic like "Generation" rolls through, its hammering accents and looping riff shock you back into lucidity with a blow that's equal parts sobering and heavy as fuck. Unfortunately, since the album's release, mind-­melting drummer Greg Fox has left—he moved on late last year, to be replaced by a laptop—and bassist Tyler Dusenbury recently jumped ship as well. So I don't really know what to expect from the duo version of Liturgy, especially on a good-size Pitchfork stage, during the day, in the heat. Also tonight at the Hideout, 21+. —Kevin Warwick Blue stage

3:20 Cults The Manhattan-based duo of Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin have risen meteorically through the indie-pop ranks since dropping a three-song demo on Bandcamp in 2010. Just two years along, Cults already seem like regulars at big summer festivals, and their self-titled debut, out last year on Columbia, plays the candy-­coated 60s girl-group card and ends up sounding vintage as well as youthful and fresh. —Kevin Warwick Red stage


[Recommended] 3:45 Youth Lagoon I can imagine few styles of music making less involving than a white kid in his early 20s writing hazy indie-pop songs alone in his bedroom in Boise, Idaho. But Trevor Powers (aka Youth Lagoon) did just that, and his debut album, The Year of Hibernation (Fat Possum), is full of wispy melodies, drum-machine beats, and fleeting vocals that sound like they're forever walking away from you. (At least he travels with a backing band.) You might try calling Powers's music "intimate," rather than "remote," but to me listening to "Cannons" (to pick just one song) feels like peering through a window through a window through a window at a songwriter noodling away at a set he wasn't sure would ever see the light of day. —Kevin Warwick Blue stage

4:15 Flying Lotus LA producer Flying Lotus (aka Steven Ellison) stepped up his game in a big way on his most recent album, Cosmogramma (Warp), whose mind-melting post-hip-hop integrates live instrumentation into its bumpy, restless electronic landscape. Ellison rarely tries to evoke any specific musical past with his slippery sound, but it is connected to the early-70s spiritual jazz of his great-aunt Alice Coltrane—in particular the 1972 orchestral album Lord of Lords. Sampled strings, live harp, and a couple of grainy tenor-saxophone lines courtesy of Alice's son Ravi Coltrane (who's also Ellison's cousin) reinforce that vibe. There are loads of prolific electronic dance musicians, but few have anything like FlyLo's range, quality control, and sense of forward development. A new album is due in October, so I'd expect to hear some fresh material today. Also Sun 7/15 at Bottom Lounge, 21+. —Peter Margasak Green stage

4:45 Nicolas Jaar Nicolas Jaar is a precocious one. Barely into his 20s, he's already the proprietor of a tastemaking boutique label, Clown & Sunset, as well as its best-known act. Like the other artists on his imprint, Jaar uses a vocabulary of electronic sounds drawn from techno and house to create abstract, largely beatless music that's heavily indebted to avant-garde classical and jazz. The results sometimes verge on ambient or new age, but the spirit of unconventional composers like Erik Satie—in his SoundCloud bio, Jaar describes being "haunted" by Satie—usually shines through. —Miles Raymer Blue stage


[Recommended] 5:15 Wild Flag In 2011 Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss (both of Sleater-Kinney), Mary Timony (Helium), and Rebecca Cole (Minders) made one of the best straight-up rock records I've heard in years. Their self-titled debut for Merge juggles garage rock, classic punk, and what we used to call "alternative rock" back before Nirvana. Brownstein's slashing guitar leads cut through the saturated chords Cole lays down on organ, and Weiss drives the bus with her ferocious rhythms. Brownstein's swooping, hiccuping singing style recalls neon new wave—she sounds a bit like Lene Lovich tackling the Ric Ocasek songbook—while Timony, who shares lead vocals, is more cool and restrained but equally catchy. Wild Flag are the complete package—if anything, they're more than the sum of their parts. —Peter Margasak Red stage

5:45 Schoolboy Q Schoolboy Q is a member of the Black Hippy crew led by buzzy LA rapper Kendrick Lamar (see Sunday), and his recent Habits & Contradictions (Top Dawg) lives up to the crew's name with beats mind-­alteringly heady enough to stand up against the heaviest west-coast groups of the late 60s. Habits is full of references to the druggier moments in hip-hop history—Three 6 Mafia's gothic paranoia, the promethazine haze of Houston rap—but Q isn't content just recycling ideas, and songs such as the sinister "Nightmare on Figg St." sound trippy in all-new ways. He never lets the mood get too dark for too long, though: breezier cuts, including the Genesis-sampling "Hands on the Wheel," let a little light in. —Miles Raymer Blue stage


[Recommended] 6:15 Sleigh Bells It doesn't seem possible to pay sincere tribute to radio pop, death metal, and the dizziest heights of Sunset Strip hair-metal insanity all at the same time and still be listenable, but Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss have figured out exactly how to do it. Sleigh Bells' 2010 album Treats made a lot of good noise (and I don't mean just publicity) with its winning formula—Krauss's sweet, bubbly vocals bouncing off Miller's punishing guitar and drum programming—and on the recent Reign of Terror (Columbia) the band seems to have perfected it. In concert Krauss's cheerleadery stage presence makes all the face-shredding digital-­hardcore brutality even more fun. —Miles Raymer Green stage

6:45 Chromatics It's OK if you only know who the Chromatics are because they're on the Drive soundtrack. Though the group's multi-­instrumentalist and aesthetic architect, Johnny Jewel (who also fills a similar role in the groups Glass Candy and Desire), played a role in the much-hyped electroclash movement, he's always been less concerned with publicity than with making records. The upshot is that there's a lot of his dark, luscious electro-pop awaiting listeners who are only just hearing about him now. The Chromatics' latest, Kill for Love (Italians Do It Better), is a good place to start—it's sexy and dangerous and immaculately made, like how really high-end bondage gear must be. Also tonight at Lincoln Hall, 18+. —Miles Raymer Blue stage

  • Charlie Youle

7:25 Hot Chip In Our Heads (Domino), the latest album from London electronic-pop band Hot Chip, is obviously geared toward getting reluctant indie-rock types onto the dance floor. The group sweetens the pot with simple hooks sung by front man Alexis Taylor, but his voice is so toothless it couldn't break the skin on hot milk. I remember when Hot Chip's mix of 80s R&B and house was regarded as shtick—they're proof that if you stick with anything long enough, somebody will start to believe in it. Also tonight at Beauty Bar (DJ set), 21+. —Peter Margasak Red stage

[Recommended] 7:40 Danny Brown Detroit MC Danny Brown has made himself into a kind of love-it-or-hate-it proposition—he's got an aggressive flow but an oddly whiny voice, and his "look" suggests a homeless guy who's fallen into a pile of Jeremy Scott for Adidas. But if you don't love him, you don't deserve him. He's hands-down one of the best rappers of the past five years. He approaches beats from strange angles, he packs his songs with stunningly filthy jokes, and he's brutally honest—sometimes, like on "Die Like a Rockstar" from last year's XXX (Fool's Gold), it gets a little scary. If you're not into that, I don't know what to tell you. —Miles Raymer Blue stage


[Recommended] 8:30 Godspeed You! Black Emperor Like pretty much all the epic instrumental postrock bands in the world, Montreal's Godspeed You! Black Emperor—who returned in 2010 after a seven-year hiatus—rely on a taut, almost celestial ambience to hold an audience's attention during the expanses of driving, dissonant noise that bridge the radiant climaxes in their music. Godspeed are masters of this technique, crafting ten-minute-plus songs that can hypnotize a crowd without a button-pushing light show (unless you count the film projections of Karl Lemieux). I assume that by the time Godspeed takes the stage, everybody will be dazed from a day in the heat, a state of mind that should mesh nicely with the very welcome sunset—the swells of guitar feedback and violin and waves of percussion from the band's flagship album, 2000's Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, and its most recent release, 2002's Yanqui U.X.O., will snake beautifully through the darkening park. It'll be good to get an in-person reminder of the band's brilliance, and of what every bleak scene in every Darren Aronofsky movie should've sounded like. —Kevin Warwick Green stage

[Recommended] 8:40 Grimes One of the most interesting things happening in music now is the circle of female musicians—EMA, Austra, Grimes—whose experimental pop carries accessible hooks into genuinely freaky spaces. Grimes's new Visions (4AD) is breezier than most of her peers' output, and some of the songs ("Genesis," "Circumambient") perfectly evoke sugary 80s pop R&B—except of course that 80s pop R&B producers weren't into massive amounts of lo-fi reverb, junky synth patches, or the dozens of other things Grimes uses to add weirdness and witchiness to her music. —Miles Raymer Blue stage

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

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