Pitchfork Festival 2023: Under-The-Radar Acts to Check Out

Post Author: Kelly Kerrigan

*Youth Lagoon, Photo by Maurice Narcis

Jockstrap, Nation of Language, MJ Lenderman & more among the can’t-miss acts at the Chicago indie fest

Pitchfork Festival 2023 appears to have one of the fest’s best lineups yet. Headliners include Bon Iver, The Smile and Big Thief, alongside this year’s indie stalwarts: Weyes Blood, Alvvays, Kelela, King Krule, Perfume Genius, Julia Jacklin and Koffee. In between your day of shopping at the CHIRP Record Fair, getting posters at Flatstock, or eating a Connie’s Pizza washed down with a special-edition Goose Island beer, there are some important acts that you don’t want to miss. 

Grace Ives

Grace Ives’ single “Lullaby” of her 2022 record Janky Star is one of my favorite bedroom pop songs…ever? The whole album makes the mundane boredom of being a young female seductive and consciously humorous. Ives’ music is honest and fun. The synthpop singer will be playing on Friday at 3:20 on the Red stage.  

Songs to listen to: “Lullaby”

Youth Lagoon

Music journalists everywhere are raving about Youth Lagoon’s first record in eight years, Heaven is a Junkyard, released this past June. Upon first listen, it was very clear there was something special here. The record upholds Trevor Powers’ shining talent of subtly perfect compositions that are light and airy, easy to listen to. Paired with narrative plots that are equally as heartbreaking as they are peaceful. Youth Lagoon plays on Friday at 4:15 on the Green stage. 

Songs to listen to: “Prizefighter” 

Nation of Language

The Brooklyn new wave trio Nation of Language are one of those bands that you do not have to know a single song and are guaranteed to still have an incredible time at their show. I don’t think there is much else needed to be said, see them if you want to dance! Nation of Language is playing at 5:15 on the Red stage.

Song to listen to: “In Manhattan” 

MJ Lenderman

Asheville’s MJ Lenderman is one of the greatest secrets in indie music. His 2022 record Boat Songs sounds exactly like it’s supposed to but better. With songs titles like “Dan Marino,” “Six Flags,” and “Toontown,” Lenderman perfectly paints the portraits of summer in the south and the folklore that surrounds everyday life there. And I couldn’t talk about Lenderman without talking about “Someone Get The Grill Out of the Rain” , one of the most perfect sad songs to ever exist. The song is practically begging to be used in an indie film during the part when the protagonist is severely going through it. Lenderman plays on Saturday at 3:20 at the Red stage. 

Songs to listen to: “TV Dinners”


I saw the band Deeper in 2019 opening for The Districts at the Casbah in San Diego and knew they had a future in the scene. The Chicago natives’ songs are crafty and intelligent. Their Sub Pop debut Careful is out September 8. The band is kicking off the day Saturday at 1:00 p.m. on the Green stage. 

Song to listen to: “Sub”


The Philly band Palm announced their breakup earlier in the summer with a simple Instagram post, “Palm is ending. These are our final shows,” with Pitchfork Fest among those dates. If being at one of their last shows ever isn’t enough to get you there, Palm has been one of the most interesting modern experimental acts of the last decade. Known for the unique live shows and their genuinely interesting music, it’s a shame to see them go. Palm will bid farewell on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. on Red stage. You can slo catch them at Empty Bottle on Friday. 

Song to listen to: “On The Sly”


Jockstrap’s 2022 record I Love You Jennifer B was one of our favorites from last year at Impose. To quote our review of the record, it’s  “layered and loud, tender and terrifying”. They are one of the most captivating experimental duos making music right now. Catch Jockstrap on Sunday at 3:30 at the Red stage. 

Song to listen to: “50/50” 

Lucrecia Dalt

The Columbian composer’s music is slightly tropical, slightly haunting and always flirtatious. She fuses together her influences, seemingly making sounds that are powerfully hers. She’s composed scores for films Catábasis, The Seed and HBO’s The Baby. Dalt takes the Green stage at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 

Songs to listen to: “No tiempo”