You wake up late, call the boss and say you aren’t going to make it today, there are better things to do. It’s summer in Chicago, festival season, and this three day weekend will be dominated by the annual Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park. This first day is the warm-up. The bands are tamer than the other days, better for unwinding after the working week. The headliner is Bjork, who gets raw, make no mistake, but not backflip off the stage into a crowd surf raw. Before her is Joanna Newsom, who’s one electric guitar away from the renaissance fair –not exactly head banger stuff. Except there is one notable outlier: Trash Talk of Sacramento plays Punk Rock the old-fashioned way – fast and hard. And Mac Demarco is going to keep it weird. If you’re here on the fifty-dollar one-day pass, then dance on that picnic table all night long, you’ll have Saturday to recoup since your boss probably won’t be having you back. But if you’re on the one-hundred-twenty-dollar, three-day endurance pass, you don’t want to burn out the first night. Pitchfork will run long hours over the weekend: wear comfortable shoes.
Get on the train early, gates open at 11AM, rain or shine. You’re at Pitchfork for the music firstly, that’s a given, but the bonus track is the various merch tents you can spend all your money in. The Chirp Record Fair is going to supply you with the necessary vinyl to give your record player a reason to spin (how you’re gonna carry it around while intoxicated is up to you). Then prepare to decorate your dorm room, bathroom, poster room with some wall hangings from Flatstock, a division of the American Poster Institute –for real. By this point Pissed Jeans will have started playing, so you better head to the Red stage to catch that. Before Merchandise’s set you’ll have time to get some gifts at the Coterie Craft Fair or, maybe, some light reading by the independent publishers at The Book Fort. Whatever you choose to buy, make it small and durable because the night’s going to end with a trio of bangers: The Breeders BANG, Solange BANG, and Belle and Sebastian BANG BANG BANG!
Wear your cool glasses today, by the evening it will be hard to see the stage when R. Kelly shuts the park down, what with the rain of panties blocking out the sky and all. This day will bump considerably harder than the other two with a more hip-hop, dance and electric oriented lineup. OG’s like Killer Mike and El-P give the dads something to groove to while new blood like Sky Ferreira keep it fresh for the rug rats. Before the aforementioned panty apocalypse, Yo La Tengo and MIA will have people climbing port-o-potties for a better view over what by then will be a solid mass of humanity from the main-stage to the center of the park. There is absolutely no reason to not go hog-wild this last day. Lollapalooza in August is the next closest thing to Pitchfork and it’ll cost you twice as much. If your -uhg- boss has a problem with you being late Monday morning, tell him to stick a pitchfork in it, you’re done.
Cover image courtesy of Pitchfork