It's one of those glorious summer weekends when local rock fans have not one, but two major live music events to consider.
The annual Vans Warped Tour, a celebration of rock 'n' roll and sports like skateboarding and BMX biking, will set up shop at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park all day on Saturday, July 20. The show will include performances by more than 90 bands.
Vans Warped Tour 2013The tour brings dozens of bands together for an all-day rock celebration. Among those scheduled to play are Defeater, MC Lars, Reel Big Fish, Poor Young Things and more.
When: Begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 20
Where: First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park
Tickets: $37.50; go to livenation.com
Event info: vanswarpedtour.com
Pitchfork Music Festival
The Pitchfork Music Festival brings together indie-rock bands old and new for three days of live music. This year's lineup includes Bjork, the Breeders, Metz, Savages, Wire, Foxygen and R. Kelly.
When: Friday through Sunday, July 19-21
Where: Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., Chicago
Tickets: $50 per day; to purchase tickets and find the full lineup and schedule information, go to pitchforkmusicfestival.com
Also this weekend, the indie-centric Pitchfork Music Festival occupies Chicago's Union Park Friday through Sunday, July 19-21. The event, one of the country's most prominent music festivals, brings more than 40 bands to the area.
In light of these two big music extravaganzas, the Daily Herald puts the spotlight on one act from each. First up is William Beckett, a Tower Lakes resident who spent his childhood in a variety of suburbs -- Gurnee, Elk Grove Village and Barrington among them. Beckett gained fame a few years back as the frontman of pop-punk band The Academy Is..., but he will perform at Warped Tour as a solo act.
Next, we'll look at Parquet Courts, a New York quartet that has released one of the most buzzed-about albums of the year, "Light Up Gold" (What's Your Rupture), which recalls the best of 1980s post-punk. Parquet Courts is preparing to deliver a set at Pitchfork.
His own man
William Beckett appeared to have it all when his band The Academy Is... started to make waves. After all, who wouldn't want to tour the world and belt out pop-punk anthems in front of cheering, adoring fans?
There was a problem, though.
"I felt stifled," Beckett said during a recent phone interview. "I felt like I was writing songs for other people, that I was trying to be commercial, rather than writing from the heart. So I figured it was time to take a step forward."
The Academy Is... disbanded in 2011, and Beckett launched a solo career. He quickly released three EPs filled with stripped-down, melodic pop songs, then gave many of those songs an acoustic overhaul for an album called "The Pioneer Sessions."
On Aug. 20, Beckett will release his first full-length solo record, "Genuine & Counterfeit," on Equal Vision Records.
"I'm really excited about the record," he said. "It's a personal album, where I explore things like how to keep balance in life, how to battle personal demons. But I think it's also very inviting and accessible, as accessible as anything I've done."
Beckett wasn't nervous about going solo, because his first musical experiences were solo ones.
"I started that way, really -- writing and playing songs in my basement in Elk Grove or South Barrington or wherever," he said. "So it felt natural to be on my own."
Beckett said he's excited to perform the new songs at Warped Tour this weekend.
"It's a challenge because it's a short set, only about a half-hour," he said. "But it will be really cool too. I played the Warped Tour with the band, but this will be something new, a new chapter for me."
In the spotlight
Brooklyn's Parquet Courts appear poised for a breakthrough. The band's album, "Light Up Gold," has already entered some critics' "best of the year" conversations, even though we're still in mid-July. And their summer has been packed with gigs at high-profile music events all over the world.
"It's been pretty amazing, how much attention the record and band have gotten," guitarist Austin Brown said during a recent interview. "We're definitely enjoying it."
The band, which arrived in New York by way of Texas, combines angular, jangly guitar rock with witty wordplay and distinctive vocals from singer Andrew Savage. The songs -- "Donuts Only," "No Ideas," "Stoned and Starving" -- recall tunes by some of the snottier bands of the post-punk 1980s, bands like the Meat Puppets and the Dead Milkmen.
Brown said that era was definitely an inspiration for the band, but not the only one.
"We're actually influenced by rock from all different times and places," he said. "We like Neil Young. We like rap. 'Light Up Gold' doesn't represent everything we like, or are inspired by."
Parquet Courts will spend the summer on the road, both in the U.S. and overseas. Brown said festivals like Pitchfork are fun to play, though he enjoys intimate club shows, too.
"Each one has its own vibe, its own strengths and weaknesses," he said. "I'm really glad we get to do both kinds of shows. The band is in a great place right now."