It’s that time of year. Pitchfork released this year’s festival line-up. Now it’s on us to sift through the galumphing manifest of performers and decide who we see live on stage and who we see on YouTube at home four weeks later.
We like all of Stepehen Bruner’s psychedelic, R&B, jazzy funk-punk, doom fusion records, and his studio work on To Pimp a Butterfly and Because the Internet is profound. But that’s all stuff that’s arguably best enjoyed at 3am, while sprawled out on one’s bedroom floor. The reason we want to see Thundercat at Pitchfork is to witness the spectacle that is him wielding a 10-string, double neck, bass guitar. Where most bassplayers find a standard 4-string, single neck, more than adequate, Thundercat says “feh” to adequacy, and instead dives head first into low-frequency rhythmic exuberance, picks up an instrument with a fretboard the size of the landing deck of an aircraft carrier, puts a raccoon pelt on his head, and a pulls a second to none bass face.
9) BJ the Chicago Kid
Bryan James Sledge’s stage name should tell you everything you need to know as to why he’s on our list. You gotta support the hometown hero. Aside from that, A Soulful Christmas EP is mandatory listening in December, and he was definitely the best part of Mission Impossible III.
8) Blood Orange
We’ve been on-board with Dev Hynes since that Test Icicles video where they play basketball really poorly. We even liked it when he dressed up like Orville Redenbacher and played acoustic guitar for Conor Oberst. But of all the iterations of Dev Hynes over the years, Blood Orange just seems to fit the best. It sounds like if Prince took more drugs and had never advanced past 1992. And hopefully, Dev’ll bust out some of these dance moves on stage.
7) FKA Twigs
Tahliah Barnett’s music is one thing. It’s whispery, and catchy, and pretty weird, and great. But the most compelling thing about her is the way she looks. We just want to watch her. We know that sounds creepy, but we can’t help it. She’s simply fascinating looking. All we want to do is stare at her. If that makes us scopophiliac weirdos, so be it. We’ll see you in the pit.
We used to have this frontdesk agent that went to high school with Twin Peaks and he said that even as teenagers, Twin Peaks would go around talking about how the were the most important band ever. Which seems ridiculous, but maybe they are. It never really occurred to us until we started checking in guests from Barcelona and Melbourne that were totally obsessed with this band.
Truthfully, they sort of sound like an American version on the young-ish Rolling Stones, but if all the members were high on really chemically-flavored cocaine. But then maybe rock music is like how craft beer is. Where each geographical region has its own unique type of beer that you can only get in that specific geographic region. Like, is Cigar City’s Invasion that much different than Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter? Or are they both comparable and the folks in Florida can enjoy their regional American Pale Ale, while us folks in Chicago can enjoy our regional American Pale Ale. Why does everything have to be so competitive? Can’t we all just agree that drinking beer and listening to the local coked up garage band is an afternoon well spent?
5) Kamasi Washington
All due respect. Kamasi Washington is the only reason that, in 2016, our favorite record can be the same favorite record as our 72-year old father. However, dude is stretching the truth with that album cover. We went to see him live a few months ago expecting to see the man on his album cover.
Other than this one minor oversight, the man has been nothing short of flawless with every creative decision made and we can’t wait to see him again in July.
3) Beach House
Remember when you went to your high school prom, and your date was like 45-minutes late because she spent the whole afternoon getting her hair blown out at the salon and then when you picked her up, she looked like a completely different person? We’re not gonna get all Carol J. Adams on you, but the best argument that women don’t dress up for men, is the existence of hair salon. Hair salons are big business, particularly in Wicker Park, which is insane, because dudes don’t care what women’s hair looks like. Rather than deplete countless hours and even countlesser kilowatts on blowing out their hair to get every strand in precisely the right place, women need to take a page out of Beach House’s playbook and recalibrate their vision of beauty on what Victoria Legrand has going on.
We know you think we’re joking, but this is what we want your hair to look like. Furthermore, Legrand’s hair is approximately 93% of the reason the last five Beach House records have been flawless.
Whatever. Call us emo if you want. But if this song doesn’t make you want to spring up from the bistro table you’re reading this from, and go outside to soak up the sun and live out whatever you have left of your precious youth, you don’t have a soul.
1) Brian Wilson
Given his persistent mental breakdowns, extended periods of seclusion, crippling drug addictions, refusal to be a Beach Boy, and size of his bank account, you should really seize this rare (and in light of recent deaths of David Bowie and Prince, last) opportunity to see Brian Wilson live.
Divorced of the venue, setlist, and quality of presentation, having seen Brian Wilson live in concert will be something you will be able to brag about to anyone in 10-years and they will think you’re at least 25% cooler and no less than 12% more physically attractive. Then if you were to top it off by saying you saw him play Pet Sounds, which is, not just his, but recorded music’s greatest offering, you will be able to french kiss whomever you’re talking to. At least, french kiss. Even if it’s a family member.