My Four Favorite Things: Pitchfork Music Festival 2011

Just a few things that make Pitchfork my favorite music fest.

Union Park

“The green line you say?” Pitchfork is just one of the fests held at Union Park, whose West Loop location is a welcome change from your usual Mag Mile or neighborhood park staples. A more under the radar location in an eclectic neighborhood, Union Park lends itself to happily to the spirit of Pitchfork. Three stages are featured at the fest, but Union Park’s manageable size allows you to see more than one act during dueling set times. If you’re feeling chillwave, lounge under clusters of trees that stand near each stage – helpful in beating the intense July heat. You may want to avoid the baseball diamonds during DJ sets, however, lest you get covered in swirling dust as hipsters kick up their heels.

Fest Dress

Pitchfork’s less mainstream status typically offers indie fashion inspiration and more avant-garde ensembles, but I was admittedly underwhelmed by this year’s street style. While lacking in sartorial revelations there was still plenty to take in. Crop tops, denim, and maxi dresses were the standard along with feathered accessories and a liberal use of face paint. I spotted more than a few 90’s-style sunflower print baby doll dresses. Mid-ankle boots and colorful, strappy footwear made a statement – even Chacos were represented. The American flag speedo guy was just what everyone wanted to see cartwheeling, and props to the gentleman who braved the heat in a full skunk costume… he probably heard stripes are in.

Necessary Objects

Three days of standing in the sun can make you do strange things: sport hair feathers, share mysterious herbs with strangers, or spend way too much money. Luckily, Pitchfork offered more than bratwurst and band merch to distract you while taking shade. Flatstock 30 showcased dozens of gorgeous concert posters, and it was fun finding shows we had attended amid the colorful and creative illustrations. Coterie Chicago highlighted the craftiness of local artists; and I am currently enjoying scribbling in the recycled Chicago notebook I picked up. As always, the CHIRP Record Fair offered an enticing array of all music genres for devoted vinyl-philes.

Sunday’s Sounds

Sunday was scorching in terms of both mercury level and musical lineup. I started the day with Yuck and Kurt Vile, whose mellow sounds beat the heat while I sprawled in refuge under some trees. Ariel Pink’s set sounded like sun stroke and OFWGKTA were definitely spitting energy, if not brilliant rhymes. A soulful show by Deerhunter gladly brought me back to the fold after a less satisfying previous experience. Cut Copy reinvigorated a sun-addled fest and as the glare lessened later in the day, the entire crowd throbbed to their electric performance. “Let’s get crazy,” Dan Whitford commanded, and we did. Headliner TV on the Radio closed out the evening with a rousing performance that sounded nothing like listening to their albums…in a good way. They picked up the pace and intensity on old favorites, tracks from this year’s Nine Types of Light , and even a cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” The worst feeling in the world is coming down from a fest high at work on Monday, but I flowed right through it on the save of Sunday’s afterglow.

Honorable Mention

The $2 Arnold Palmer’s at Wishbone’s booth. A refreshing and frugal alternative to beer, and the perfect complement to a furtive flask of vodka…or two.

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