The Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago (July 15-17) may not be the largest or most popular of the summer's music festivals, but it has the distinct advantage of not being the largest or most popular of the summer's music festivals. With other music festivals, the experience of actually seeing bands may require fending off a sea of shrieking acid-tripping hippies. At the Pitchfork Festival, organized by the taste-making indie music site of the same name, the audience is there primarily for the music (even if their snotty hipster end goal is being able to brag about how they saw band X "before they were cool").
This self-acknowledged snotty hipster will be covering the festival for the Ace, taking on everything from the acts themselves to the, shall we say, singular fashion sense of the audience. Tickets are still available, but if Chicago is too far, don't fret. Some of the festival's best acts will be making their way to the Lexington-Cincinnati area over the next few months - here's a first look:
Neko Case (August 17th, PNC Pavilion @ Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati)
Recurring participant in the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour Neko Case will be playing at a Cincinnati show in August alongside Lexington favorites and Kentucky natives My Morning Jacket. Case writes intricately constructed folk songs that show a gift for vivid lyrical imagery, but the unforgettable thing about her is her brassy, clarion country voice, which even without the sharp storytelling of her songs would still pierce through to your soul.
Neko Case - "Star Witness"
Neko Case - "People Got A Lotta Nerve"
Deerhunter (August 25th, Cosmic Charlie's, Lexington)
At one point, this indie rock foursome from Atlanta were purveyors of mesmerizing, gloomy musical atmosphere, with songs filled with the droning and squalling of guitars. These days, the atmosphere is still mesmerizing, but it's downright cheerful - Deerhunter now make dreamy, sonically-complex pop songs like "Desire Lines" as well as throwback 60s homages like the jaunty "Revival".
Deerhunter - "Desire Lines"
Deerhunter - "Revival"
Cut Copy (September 24th, Fountain Square, Cincinnati)
It takes guts for a modern band to embrace cheesiness as a virtue, but Australian band Cut Copy, drawing heavily from the kind of synth-pop made by New Order and the Human League, make songs that can be as irresistible as they are corny. Their live shows are legendary dance parties that move between guitar-dominated dance rock and full-on electronic house music jams.
Cut Copy - "Hearts on Fire"
Cut Copy - "Need You Now"
Toro Y Moi (September 23rd, Midpoint Music Festival, Cincinnati)
Toro Y Moi, the stage name of Chaz Bundick, was one of the leading groups in the development of a new genre dubbed chillwave, which places a heavy emphasis on the electronic manipulation of vocals and instrumentals through effects processing, looping, and sampling. But Toro Y Moi is anything but robotic - his songs are funky, organic-sounding reveries backed by thumping beats.
Toro Y Moi - "Still Sound"
Toro Y Moi - "New Beat"
Gang Gang Dance (July 13th, Zanzabar, Louisville, and September 22nd, Midpoint Music Festival, Cincinnati)
Gang Gang Dance, an experimental rock band from New York, jump around from genre to genre so much that it's essentially impossible to nail them down - their albums put together Bollywood-inspired disco tracks, punk-esque freakouts, and synth-dominated Kate Bush homages. If there's a constant through their music, it's an always-fascinating focus on percussion that will get your body moving - whether you'll end up dancing or frantically spazzing out to the beats may vary.
Gang Gang Dance - "House Jam"
Gang Gang Dance - "Mindkilla"