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Pitchfork Music Festival

Can the premiere indie fest still keep its charm?

July 28, 2010
By Ben H. Moffat

It had all the making of an independent music festival. Previous years had featured local food (check), artists selling their art (check), lots of very friendly event staff (check), local beer (uncheck).

What happened?! I travel a very long distance to basically get a slap in the face because in addition to a local beer not being present there was an import! Heineken. I mean at least make it American, we’re living in a goddamn recession! Have you checked out the trade deficit lately? Well, in addition to China, add Holland to that as well.

While I have absolutely no problem with Heineken, don’t try and sell me on the being friendly to local businesses and then sell Heineken. Toyota was also featured prominently, in addition to a barrel full of iPhone cases, and that’s when I almost had, as my mother would say, “a fit and fall in it.”

I have to repeat the fact that I have absolutely no problem with any of these elements but I guess I just expected a little too much of Pitchfork. I expected eco-friendly plastic cups and a bigger place to fill up your water bottle. Now, I know these things aren’t standard at festivals but if you introduce it previously and then scale it back, don’t pretend like people won’t remember!

But kind of like politicians will eventually become corrupt, Pitchfork is eventually going to be a soulless festival. It’s going to happen.  

But enough of that, onto the details from what I can piece together:

The crowd was overwhelming. In order to get anywhere close to the stage you had to make some enemies, get some funny looks and generally say “excuse me, sorry, excuse me, sorry” 20 times in order to move 50 feet.  But the music was fantastic overall. Here are some highlights:

The best of the festival had to be LCD Soundsystem. James Murphy put on a hell of a show and managed to keep his sense of humor even as the sound technicians did an absolutely terrible job (they did an awful job the entire festival).  Titus Andronicus was amazing. They played for about 30 minutes but managed to make it seem much longer and not for the worse. Opening with “A More Perfect Union,” made the crowd so happy that Titus could’ve played Springsteen covers the rest of the set. Nevertheless, Springsteen covers were not in the cards and they amazed the audience with one of the tightest and gutsiest sets of the festival.

I made it to Lightning Bolt a little late but didn’t miss much in terms of the spectacle. At one point they asked if someone was OK near the front of the stage and then said they had time for one more and rocked the steeple off the church across the street. By far the loudest thing I have EVER heard; I may never play the piano again.

Honorable mention for great sets: Raekwon, Broken Social Scene, Major Lazer.

As I traveled back from Chicago it looked like it was going to rain and then my flight got delayed and then we got on the plane and waited an hour and a half.  The Pitchfork Music Festival may be getting too big for its britches, it may have long lines, bad sound crew, and changed face a little, but in the end they still managed, against all my naysaying and critical quips to throw together a great festival.

In the words of the most famous Chicagoan, Ferris Bueller,  “It is so choice, if you have the means, I highly recommend (going).”

 
 

 

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