Tag Archives: Pitchfork Music Fest

In Defense Of #fests

Belle and Sebastian at Pitchfork 2013

I’ve seen a lot of criticism of big music festivals lately. Some of it is valid: the radius clauses imposed by organizers can clearly hurt local venues and the local music scene. And I can’t think of a single band I’ve seen outside that wouldn’t have been better inside a dark club or theater. That said, fests offer a lot of things that you’re just not going to get when you go to a regular show.

I went to the Pitchfork Music Festival on Saturday and had a great time. There were three bands that I really wanted to see and several others that I was curious about. That’s enough for a solid day of music. You don’t need to love every single band. It’s good to have holes in your schedule so you can get some food, reapply sunscreen, and sit on a blanket in the shade. Downtime is essential if you don’t want to burn yourself out.

If you don’t have to travel too far, there’s no shame in getting a single day ticket. It’s important to realize that you don’t need to see everything. Don’t stress out about getting inside much before the start time of the first band you care about. On Saturday Phosphorescent was one of my three must-see bands and they started at 2:30. Sure, it might have been cool to see White Lung and Pissed Jeans, but you know what’s even cooler? A leisurely brunch at Wishbone.

We rolled in and found a good spot just in time to see Matthew Houck and his crew take the stage. The sun was beating down on us pretty hard, which made me happy we hadn’t arrived any earlier. Union Park is small enough that I could slip away for beer and be back before the end of the song.

After that, we threw down the blanket in a shady spot close enough to Trail of Dead’s stage so my pals could move up close for a while. During this chill time we met up with some other folks and spent some time critiquing the fashion choices of our fellow attendees. Happy to see nobody’s wearing corduroys in the summer anymore, but man, what’s up with all the half shirts?

We left the shade to check out Savages for a bit but got hungry after a few songs and left to eat some felafel under a tree.

At this point you might be wondering why I would spend $50 to sit on a blanket with my friends. And I would answer that sitting on a blanket with my friends is one of my favorite things to do at music festivals and something I never do anywhere other than at music festivals. I like drinking beer and eating felafels and watching people and listening to music. When something piques my interest I can get up and walk over and check it out.

I haven’t attended the Forkfest since 2010 but in past years I remember feeling old. Maybe it’s the fact that all the guys have geezer beards now, or maybe the Breeders and Belle and Sebastian appeal more to my demographic, but the crowd didn’t seem that young to me this year. But it’s still fun to see a bunch of weirdos baking in the sun while Swans pummel everyone.

I was excited to see the Breeders play Last Splash. It’s a meticulously produced album that is stranger sounding than almost any other alt-pop from the 90s. Live, though, they were perfectly shambolic. As my man JTL put it, they “brought the slacker cool epically.” I’ve seen the Pixies a few times since they reunited and I’ve never seen Kim Deal smile as much as she did on Saturday. They were scrappy and the mix wasn’t great, but whatever. The band was having fun and it was infectious.

After their set we jockeyed for a good position where we could still see Solange but be up close for Belle and Sebastian an hour later. B&S was the reason I bought tickets the day they went on sale. I saw them once before way back in 2006, and it was a great concert. If you think of them as wimpy and twee you really need to see them live. They rock harder than you’d think, and they put on a super entertaining show. There aren’t a ton of bands that I’d stand around in the rain to see, but Belle and Sebastian is one of them.

Once the rain got heavier, our densely packed spot opened up a little and we had enough room to put on ponchos and dance (gently). I kept looking up at the sky, nervous that the show would be stopped early as Bjork’s set had been the previous night. We were lucky and got a full set.

As we left the park my wet shoes squished through the grass and mud. Sure, there are things about fests that you can complain about, things that are less comfortable than they could be, things that are goofy or annoying, but like most things in life it’s about your attitude. If you go in with a good attitude you can have a good time. Realistic expectations and a flexible plan will help too.

A friend’s dad ran for state government back in the day with the slogan: Aim high, hang loose, keep moving. I’m not sure if he won or lost the election, but that’s my motto when I head into a fest. See you at Lollapalooza!

Pitchfork crowd, photo by Alan M. Paterson
Photo by Alan M. Paterson

Pitchfork 2010, Day 3: A Glowing Sunday in the Park

Pitchfork 2010Indie rock dies as our old ears get hungrier

If Lightning Bolt is free jazz, no one was getting out of this set without paying dearly for it. The Rhode Island duo hit the Pitchfork stage midday Sunday in a peel of overdriven guitar shriek and crazed flurries of snare and tom-tom that magnetized the humid Chicago air and transformed the hazy afterimages still resonating from Beach House’s pleasantly forgettable set into spazzy molecules of fucked up oxygen. Pins and needles were made to float, and eardrums were sunburned. Did I mention that Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale was wearing a terrifying mask? His arms pounding savagely into his kit, his face obscured by this luchador death rictus, and then, halfway through this caterwaul, he begins to sing. Sure, it was more of a moan, scream, or reverbed yell. But that he was doing anything while still thoroughly murdering his drums on fast forward is profound. That’s some classic concentration.

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Pitchfork 2010, Days 1-2

Pitchfork Music FestivalEvery year that I’ve gone to the Fork Fest, I’ve been surprised how many people actually show up for it. Rationally, I know it sells out and that there are 18,000 people there, but I forget how many bodies that really is until they’re surrounding me. It’s a lot of people.

And it seems like most of them are really into the music. Of course, there is also a good percentage of folks who are just there for the experience. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I would guess that the majority really gets into the performances, packing themselves densely into the fields, singing along, and paying attention to the music. There are moments when it feels like a community, and that’s pretty exciting in these days of extreme cultural fragmentation.

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Lance Waxer’s Guide To Pitchfork 2010

Fork FestWho I want to see at Pitchfork Music Festival 2010

I’m breaking this down into two categories. My starters—bands I want to see because I f’n love them. And my bench—a few bands I want to see because I know good music when I hear it. I could’ve broken it up into Saturday and Sunday because—I’ll be honest—I’ve either seen most of Friday’s bands recently or I don’t really care if I ever do. Then again, Michael Showalter is probably going to be funny Friday night on the newly created Comedy Stage.

Also, this will be a brief chronicling. Don’t be lookin’ for some really in-depth expose. Go elsewhere for that, bitches.

Continue reading Lance Waxer’s Guide To Pitchfork 2010

Notes from the Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music FestivalPitchfork Music Festival

Chicago, July 18-20, 2008

So I’m standing around early on Friday night while Mission of Burma rips through Vs., and out of the backstage VIP area walks this short guy wearing a giant Professor Griff t-shirt. You know those tribute shirts where the whole shirt is a picture of Biggie‘s face? Like that, but with a picture of Public Enemy‘s alleged anti-Semite, Professor Griff.

It takes me a moment to realize this guy is, of course, Professor Griff. He’s walking around the crowd before his set, begging to be noticed. And this weird moment of awesome bravado and icky self-promotion is a pretty fair metaphor for the entire P-Fork Fest.

This yearly congregation of college radio nerds, fashion victims, art students, burnouts, baristas, and meatheads in Chicago’s Union Park is getting bigger and bigger. With an overstuffed line-up of hipster favorites and a smart, well-ordered setup, this is still the best-run festival in America. But it wasn’t without headaches, creeping corporate sponsorship, and a shit-ton of humidity.

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Public Enemy Live at Pitchfork

Preach to teach to all...Public Enemy at Pitchfork Music Festival

Chicago, July 18, 2008

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is not my absolute favorite Public Enemy album. That honor goes to Fear of a Black Planet. But as a music fan, I fully understand the importance and awesomeness of Nation of Millions. It’s an amazing album, and everything Public Enemy has done since then will be judged in reference to it.

So I was excited when I heard that PE would be performing the album in its entirety as part of Pitchfork‘s “Don’t Look Back” night that celebrates classic albums.

Then again, Public Enemy is not the same group it was the last time I saw them in concert: at some weird parking structure venue in Pontiac, Michigan, in support of Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black. Chuck D is as righteous as ever, but Flavor Flav has undergone a very public fall from grace with the drug busts in the 90s and the reality television over the past several years. Additionally, Terminator X has retired and the Bomb Squad does not perform live with the group.

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2008: Photos

MuddyThe Pitchfork Music Fest was doused in rain this year. But that didn’t keep GLONO photographer Alan M. Paterson from getting his feet muddy in order to get some good shots.

We’ll feature more coverage of the bands over the next few days, but for now you can feel like you were there by looking at the following photos…

Update: Day One; Days 2-3.

Dirty

See the photos after the jump…

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Pitchfork Fest 2007: Days 2-3

Forkfest beer tentFriday night was a fun bonus, but the real festival started on Saturday. That’s when the place filled up with perfectly unkempt indie kids, all the vendors were in full effect, and they kept scruffs like me out of the VIP section.

The importance of the weather cannot be overstated. When it’s hot as balls like it had been for the previous two Fork Fests, it becomes hard to drink the Goose Island beer and revolting to get too close to other sweaty people. When it’s over 100 and humid as hell, you need an American-style light lager. In fact, you need a lot of them. And you have to wear shorts even if your legs are pasty.

But when it’s mid-70s and breezy, you can wear jeans if you want, you can drink good beer, and you can work your way through a thick crowd occasionally bumping into a scantily clad young person without immediately being covered in stank. You can even eat Chipotle. Why not?

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Pitchfork Fest 2007: Day One

Pitchfork 2007I’ve gone to the Pitchfork Music Festival each year since its inception, including the first year when it wasn’t actually called the Pitchfork Music Festival. But I’d never requested a press pass because I didn’t feel like having to write about it. When you request free tickets, you’re obligated. And sometimes it’s nice to just hang out with some friends, listen to a some music, and observe Hipster Youth in their native habitat.

Plus, it’s fucking Pitchfork—who wants to ask those guys for anything?

This year, though, we needed that photo pass to get those nice, close shots. So I swallowed my pride and got hooked up with a media pass for myself and a photo pass for my man, AMP. But I still wanted to have a nice weekend and enjoy myself, so I made a conscious decision to follow Wayne Coyne’s advice and try not to be too uptight about it. I mostly succeeded.

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Billboard saw Ghostface at Pitchfork

Billboard’s Charley Rogulewski has seen a ghost!

According to the original version of his Pitchfork piece (Sonic Youth, GZA, Slint Kick Off Pitchfork Fest), posted July 14, 2007, 7:10 PM ET, GZA “was flanked by fellow Wu member Ghostface Killah for abbreviated versions of most of the album tracks.” Rogulewski even got a quote: “It was a very free spirited performance,” Ghostface said afterward. “We were feelin’ the crowd.”

Google cache still has the original version. View a screen grab.

The article since been half-corrected. Now, GZA “was flanked by Wu associate Cappadonna for abbreviated versions of most of the album tracks,” but the quote is still attributed to Ghostface, who as far as we can tell, was not actually in Chicago this weekend. Wasn’t he in Amsterdam with the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan (youtube)?

Continue reading Billboard saw Ghostface at Pitchfork