The concert industry is struggling this summer, sending lumbering, behemoth tours across the land and charging big bucks for the good seats -- and sales are down. Not at Union Park. For less than $100 over three days, thousands of fans this weekend will enjoy dozens of superb major and indie pop acts at the annual Pitchfork Music Festival -- which mostly sold out swiftly.
But you still want to get your money's worth. Here's the weekend's schedule, spread over three stages, with a few of my don't-miss picks ...
- 3:30 p.m. -- Sharon Van Etten
- 4 p.m. -- The Tallest Man on Earth: This solo project by Swedish musician Kristian Matsson is rooted deeply -- no, I mean deeply -- in American folk traditions. He's got surprising range.
- 4:30 p.m. -- El-P
- 5:30 p.m. -- Liars
- 6:25 p.m. -- Robyn: Stick with the Swedes! A surprising booking (she's hugely famous outside America), Robyn's blend of sweet Scandinavian pop and stateside R&B has remained potent, maybe intensified, as her childhood career matured into her adulthood. Her new CD, for instance, opens with "Don't F---ing Tell Me What to Do." Atta girl. She's Roxette! She's Berlin! She's pretty cool!
- 7:20 p.m. -- Broken Social Scene: The Canadian Belle & Sebastian finally stopped "presenting" solo albums and regrouped (always a challenge for this ever-evolving collective) for a new album this year, "Forgiveness Rock Record." All is forgiven.
- 8:30 p.m. -- Modest Mouse
- 1 p.m. -- Free Energy
- 1 p.m. -- Netherfriends: Start your day with a dreamy sing-along, courtesy Chicago's cooing, harmonizing Netherfriends. (Please play "Bret Easton Ellis Novel"!)
- 1:45 p.m. -- Real Estate
- 1:55 p.m. -- Sonny & the Sunsets
- 2:30 p.m. -- Delorean
- 2:50 p.m. -- Kurt Vile: My favorite new band name, Kurt Vile plays his guitar like a calm, more thoughtful, introspective Marc Bolan. He hides himself in his muddy sound, too, but he's worth looking for.
- 3:20 p.m. -- Titus Andronicus: This New Jersey band has a dour, fatalistic outlook on life, to be sure. But they grind and leap and party like it's Armageddon time. Nihilism never sounded so good.
- 3:45 p.m. -- Dam-Funk
- 4:15 p.m. -- Raekwon: C'mon, you always have to see a Wu-Tang guy if they're around, right?
- 4:45 p.m. -- The Smith Westerns
- 5:15 p.m. -- The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
- 5:45 p.m. -- WHY?
- 6:15 p.m. -- Wolf Parade: The new CD, "Expo 86," is great, pushing the rhythmic engine into the red.
- 6:45 p.m. -- Bear in Heaven
- 7:25 p.m. -- Panda Bear
- 7:40 p.m. -- Freddie Gibbs
- 8:30 p.m. -- LCD Soundsystem: Brooklyn producer James Murphy keeps nailing it, with his new dance-rock album another gleeful classic. Live, it's a hoedown.
- 1 p.m. -- Alla: The intricate songs of this Chicago psychedelic Latin band are easy to crawl into and stretch out in. Pretty and complex.
- 1 p.m. -- CAVE
- 1:45 p.m. -- Cass McCombs
- 1:55 p.m. -- Best Coast: Take all your mom's '60s girl-group 45s and play them too loud on a stereo with blown speakers. Voila, it's Best Coast. Sweet and strange.
- 2:30 p.m. -- Girls
- 2:50 p.m. -- Washed Out: Dreamy, '80s pop played slowly and with feeling.
- 3:20 -- Beach House
- 3:35 p.m. -- Local Natives
- 4:15 -- Lightning Bolt
- 4:45 p.m. -- Surfer Blood
- 5:15 p.m. -- St. Vincent: She's tough to beat: great guitarist, great songwriter. The former, no doubt, is because she grew up in Tulsa, Okla., and worked with her uncle and aunt, Tuck Andress and Patti Cathcart of the jazz duo Tuck & Patti.
- 5:45 p.m. -- Here We Go Magic
- 6:15 p.m. -- Major Lazer: Finally, someone updates Jamaican dub!
- 6:45 p.m. -- Neon Indian
- 7:25 p.m. -- Big Boi: By himself, away from Outkast partner Andre 3000, Big Boi brings the party but doesn't dumb it down.
- 7:40 p.m. -- Sleigh Bells
- 8:30 p.m. -- Pavement: The band that created the template for '90s lo-fi rock has, for some reason, reunited for a nostalgia tour. Hey, we miss the "Rangle Life." Who are we to argue?