Matt Forney
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To Live and Get High at Pitchfork

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I am officially cooler than you. On Friday, I ambled over to Union Park, site of the annual Pitchfork Music Festival, America’s premiere indie music event (exempting SXSW). I spent all day sipping overpriced Heinekens, rifling through boxes of vinyl LPs, and watching performances by acts you’ve never even heard of with thousands of other indie kids. How can you possibly top that? You can’t.

Bow down to your new Lord of Hipness.

In all seriousness, I went mainly because there were two acts performing on Friday I really wanted to see: Feist and the Olivia Tremor Control. I’d have stuck around for Saturday, but Chicago—and Pitchfork in particular—would have bankrupted me if I hung around any longer. If you’ve ever wondered whether you should take a weekend off to wander around a public park getting stoned to obscure noise rock bands, wonder no more and fucking do it!

Poster row. You could get a poster of just about any friggin’ band in the world here.

Don’t mind the fatties: the talent on display was mostly above average (if frustratingly taken).

Concession stands. For the price of your firstborn, you could partake in everything from gyros to vegan sloppy joes to Heineken. Yep, Heineken: due to a sponsorship deal, they were the only beer available. When I found out, this is exactly what went through my mind. Not that I don’t like Heineken or anything, but come on!

Hipster heaven: a gigantic tent full of vinyl retailers. You name it, they had an LP of it, with prices that were sometimes reasonable ($1 per record). Also there were a variety of clothes, soap and tchotchke hockers, where I picked up a new hat.

Sadly, this was as nice as the weather got; it rained about half the time and the temperature cracked 90 degrees. I could feel beads of sweat running down my legs.

Lower Dens, the first band I saw. They weren’t bad, but I honestly couldn’t tell whether their lead singer was a man or woman; I had to Google it to find out (she’s a woman). I seriously thought she was a tranny at one point.

The Olivia Tremor Control, the best nineties indie band you never heard of. Despite Pitchfork’s policy against drugs, their security staff didn’t do a particularly thorough job of searching anyone, because it seemed like half the audience was toking. By the time the band finished their set, the pot smoke was thick enough to get a contact high. Also take note of the band’s bassist, the only minority within a three-block radius (not counting the security staff).

Japandroids, an okay Dinosaur Jr. knockoff. This was as close as I could get, because the stage was absolutely packed and it’d been raining, so umbrellas were out blocking my view. Technical problems delayed the start of their set, not that it mattered much seeing as all their songs sound the same after a while: screeching guitar solos and loud-as-fuck drums. Of all the shows I saw, this was the only one that had people crowdsurfing.

There was another good band playing that night called Dirty Projectors: I could only watch them on the giant flat screen showing Pitchfork’s webcast of the festival, because I rushed to get a front-row spot for Feist’s performance. Smart move on my part, as I ended up within spitting distance of the barrier separating the crowd from the stage.

And the headlining act herself, Feist. She turned out the biggest crowd by far, being the only performer that non-hipsters actually know about.

More Feist. Of all the acts I saw that night, she was by far the one who engaged the audience the most, leading us in call and responses and even having us act as a makeshift chorus at one point (necessitated by the morons on the next stage over drowning her out). By the third song, couples around me were spontaneously making out.

Even more Feist. I particularly like the getups her backup singers were wearing.

Not Pitchfork, but a shot of downtown Chicago I got while heading to the bus station. Pitchfork kicked ass and Chicago is a great town, but I had to leave.

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