Oh how I love summer music festivals. And let me tell you, this summer, Chicago is chock full of them. This past weekend, I was able to go to my first Pitchfork festival ever. Pitchfork is a huge indie music fest that usually takes place in Union Park every July.
Now, even though I was only able to attend two of the three days (Friday and Saturday), Pitchfork was nothing I’ve ever experienced. You make think of Pitchfork as some ordinary music fest, but it is definitely in a league of its own. I’m going to reflect on my Friday experience, since it was a day where I really was able to just walk around the park and take everything in. So, it first hit me when I waited for a half an hour to get into the park Friday afternoon. The line went for blocks as it circled around the perimeter of the park. After the excrutiating wait in the scorching heat, I finally made it inside and tried to figure out what I wanted to do first. Pitchfork consisted of three stages that housed acts like Neko Case, Das Racist, James Blake, Animal Collective, and (my favorite) Battles. Ever since I found out that Battles, a outrageous math rock band from New York would be taking down the Green Stage, I knew that I had to be there. So, I made my way to their stage and waited it out. The trio hit the stage at 4:35pm and hammered out “Wall Street,” “Ice Cream,” “Sweetie & Shag,” “My Machines,” and a fan favorite “Atlas.” Talk about my mind being absolutely blown. Consider math rock my new favorite genre after witnessing such musical beauty. But once Battles ended, I had a good couple hours to scope out what the fest had to offer. And I was about to get the biggest surprise yet.
Like I previously mentioned, Pitchfork is definitely more than just a music fest. The festival comprised of a massive record sale, provided by Chirp, tents promoting not-for-profit organizations, a “Bike Village” where you can safely park your bike, and, my favorite part, a poster sale. But this wasn’t any normal poster sale.These were posters you would typically see at a concert; you know, those one’s where it’s a limited edition print that would only be available at THAT show? Yeah, those. And since I’m a huge collector of them (every show I go to, I have to buy a poster), I almost died and went to heaven. At this poster sale, you would be able to check out prints that promoted The National, Beirut, Neko Case, Blonde Redhead, The Clash at Demonhead (Scott Pilgrim, anyone?), and countless others. I realized then that Pitchfork was definitely more than just your typical Chicago music gathering.
As I reflect a week later, I’m still floored by what I experienced at Pitchfork. This fest had some great live musical talent that most might have not heard before, so it was a great way to encounter new indie artists as well as some of the classics. Not only was Pitchfork a music related event, but it also put a focus on the artists in the Chicago-land area. Union Park was a great place to hold the venue; there was a equal ratio of sun to shade and having our Chicago skyline as the backdrop was bittersweet. All I have to say is count me in for next year.