Hello, fellow Radio Free Chicagoans! My name is Amber. You might or might not know of me through my own music blog, The Hot Half Life of Amber Valentine, but now you'll get to know of me through my forthcoming contributions to Radio Free Chicago. From me, you can come to expect band interviews, the occasional concert write up, a record review or two... Mostly, however, I'm just here for the ambiance.
To me, it seems that summer in Chicago never truly starts until the kick off of the annual Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park. If you share those sentiments, Friday, July 17th brings good news for you! For $35 a ticket you really can't go wrong, even if you're only making an appearance at the festival to meet a cute member of the opposite sex with awesome taste in music. Of course, if you're there you might as well check out a few of the bands playing as each day has a number of standout acts, whether your tastes lean more toward introspective indie or foreign art rock.
As for me, I'm particularly looking forward to the presence of these five artists:
5 - The Walkmen. To be completely honest with you, I've been out of the loop so far as The Walkmen are concerned for quite some time. While I was aware of the release of last year's You & Me, I never bothered to actually give the record a listen despite being a fan of their first two releases. When I did finally listen to You & Me quite recently, I was surprised that the smoky classic rock sound I heard was coming from the same band that recorded the dreamy We've Been Had seven years ago. The Walkmen keep progressing and while it is, on occasion, hit or miss, the fact that they continue to grow is admirable nonetheless.
4 - The Thermals. If indie kids made punk rock while retaining all their indie sensibilities, it would sound like The Thermals. Only the thing is, they aren't ironic at all as the above description might lead you to believe. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, The Thermals followed up their solid if repetitive debut this year with the melodic, poppier Now We Can See. Despite being released in early April, Now We Can See is a very summertime record to me, recalling the days when it was cool to like Weezer. Only with better lyrics.
3 - Frightened Rabbit. When someone mentions "Scottish" and "music" to me, two things come to mind: Twee and Franz Ferdinand. It ends up that Frightened Rabbit resemble neither. Producing raw, folksy, Americana by way of Scotland, their last appearance in Chicago sold out the Empty Bottle not once but twice. Despite flying largely under the radar in America as a whole, expectations are sure to be high in Chicago considering their January shows were so well received.
2 - Beirut. The lovely project of silky voiced Sante Fe Native Zach Condon, Beirut's knack for producing quirky, timeless music with a worldly sound transcends amazingly from album to live venue. Anyone with Saturday tickets to Pitchfork would be incredibly deprived if they missed them.
1 - Built To Spill. For me, no summer is complete without the presence of Built To Spill. As a long standing fan, summer is the time that I find myself revisiting the band most often and no Amber-made Summer mix is complete without the inclusion of "Car," a beautiful, simple mid-nineties indie gem. While Built To Spill's six full-length albums offer plenty of material to choose from, one thing is certain — everyone's going to be just as excited to hear songs off of their forthcoming fall release as they will be to hear classics like "Girl" and "Carry the Zero."
Editor's note: While 3-day passes are sold out, if you hustle you may be able to snap up one of the 300 individual day tickets released today.