Features | Festivals

CMG's Guide to the Pitchfork Music Festival

By Clayton Purdom | 15 July 2010

Another sweltering Chicago summer, another Pitchfork Music Festival. Like the airborne version of Ebola fictionalized in the 1994 film Outbreak, the festival seems to grow with time, with more and more out-of-towners making the trip and the onetime centralization of Wicker Park/Logan Square attendees getting ever-diluted by polo-clad Northsiders. Even the lineup’s getting bigger, wisely ditching the themed Friday sets for a full lineup of standard shows on the first day. With these increasing confusions in mind, CMG presents, for the use of its own staff and for its readers in search of objective third-party advice:

A Rival Website’s Guide to the Pitchfork Music Festival, Rival Being a Relative Term Employed Jocularly Here

1. Make fun of people. You belong to an uncategorizable nether-region of person. You stand astride and apart from all, both hipsters and bros, preciously sipping their craft beers and chest-slappingly slamming their 312s. You are from no land and yet ruler of them all, like Aragorn. The only way to truly survive the Pitchfork Music Festival, like any music festival, is to rip on absolutely everyone there the entire time. Heed this advice, and you’ll fit in just fine, for you are the most unique of all the unique snowflakes in attendance.

2. Camp out at the side-stage. There’s great stuff on the main stages throughout (particularly Sunday’s flashback motherlode), but there are also a lot of fat-faced indie once-beens. (Apologies to the dozens who actually enjoy Forgiveness Rock Record. Seriously, I’m so sorry for you.) The solution, as usual: keep an eye on that B stage to the side, which year-in-year-out hosts the most interesting acts of the weekend. Last year saw the Very Best upstage the Flaming Lips entirely. This year, look for Michael Showalter to engage more than BSS’s B.S. and future-of-rap bruiser Freddie Gibbs to lead a party way hotter than LCDSS’ shimmy-along electro-piffles.

3. Hydrate. Just kidding—get fucked up! Lord knows we plan to.

4. Tweet prodigiously. Can’t bring yourself to write full posts as it happens, but want to justify your blog’s hard-earned press pass? Tweet! Maybe Ryan Schreiber will DM you (don’t worry, that’s not a sex move). Here, you can have this one for free: “Waiting 4 Real Estate to take the stage … it’s hot! #P4K”

5. Actually go to that Real Estate show. Along with Surfer Blood, they’re your indie rock bands to believe in this year—excellent songwriters with the sort of affectation-free live shows that thrive here.

6. Argue with a Cokemachineglow staff member. We’ve normally got logo-emblazoned t-shirts on, but if you can’t find one of those, just look for Dom. He has a beard. He’ll be the one with the beard standing around watching bands. Easy-peasy!

7. Go to an aftershow-show. Headliners may have non-competes in place—someone look into this!—but most daytime bands end up at venues around the city for more personal sets throughout the weekend, sometimes with discounts for those wearing P4K wristbands. Anybody who got flattened by Fucked Up at Subterranean last year knows what I’m talking about. Look for Liars at Bottom Lounge, Titus Andronicus at Subterranean or (pro-tip) Yelawolf at Darkroom. The existence of this last show alone guarantees a cameo with Big Boi on Sunday, wethinks.

8. Don’t go. Skip a day! Who gives a shit, right? You were too hungover from that Yelawolf show. Or 8a) Go, but claim you sneaked in through the vendor’s entrance because you “didn’t really give a shit about the lineup this year.” Instant cred!

9. Wear something kooky. We want to see thigh-hair crawling from the bottom of your cut-offs. We want facepaint. Striped tank-tops don’t count, you just look like a pirate. Mesh tank-tops totally count, though. Zany hats, big or otherwise, count—biker caps and headbands do not. Be creative! This is your time to truly “go with the flow.”

10. Last and most importantly, have fun! We’re only young once, and seriously our knees are starting to get too brittle for these fucking weekend-long things and also there is pretty much nothing on the planet creepier than a parent who brings their kid to a music festival (“Does Jayden like weed?”). Death, after all, awaits us, and these halcyon sun-cooked moments in the twilight of our youths remind us of our fleeting cultural relevance but moreover of the brevity of our conscious time within this great unfeeling universe. To dust we must return. Despite all the riotous sound we bathe in at Pitchfork one tone rings louder than any other, and that is the reverberating infinite blankness of death’s toll, clanging back at us through time, waiting—ever waiting.

See you there!