Pitchfork Day 2: Through a Newb's Eyes
By Shannon in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 16, 2007 1:00PM
We have a confession to make: we've never been to Pitchfork before. Considering the festival's only been going on officially for two years, it's not all that surprising. Still, being music lovers, we wanted to shed the "Pitchfork virgin" connotation and take the plunge. The only other big music fest we've been party to was the Touch & Go 25th anniversary at Hideout last year, along with the occasional street fest. We picked Saturday for our coming-out, since we knew a whopping two bands on the bill that day. (We said we love music. We didn't say we were hip.)
Getting there wasn't so bad; our locale in Lakeview afforded us a trip entirely by train (well, a little on foot). Since we're the dorks we are and wanted to get there as early as possible, we showed right around noon. Staff was helpful and courteous while we waited for gates to open; one girl even comped us a water, as we were loathe to break the seal on the one we'd brought. As we trotted out onto the grounds, it looked as if Union Park had been carpet-bombed by Urban Outfitters and Threadless. We even spotted a Cameron Diaz-esque Chairman Mao messenger bag. Along with the prerequisite oversized plastic sunglasses and neckerchiefs, we couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a guy in either a band or ironic/nonsensical tee. Some of our favorites included "I listen to bands that don't even exist yet" and an iconic representation of the little dude from Katamari Damacy.
We caught the Twilight Sad on the Connector stage, since we're huge suckers for a Scottish accent. Yum. We came up for air during Voxtrot; their energetic machinations were pleasant enough on stage and for the growing crowd, but it wasn't the kind of thing we'd listen to at home. Knowing we had a long day ahead of us, we rested our aching legs for a bit, then checked out the WLUW/Depart-ment vendor sheds. Hipsters hunched over stacks and stacks of CDs and vinyl. After scoping some ugly-cute stuffed animals and just-ugly purses, we came upon a table selling fancied-up CTA signage. We liked the look of the 8"x10" signs until we saw the $40 price tag. Anyone tell this guy we can get the same real shit off the Illinois Railway Museum site for half that, at the most? Despite our disgust at most tables' markups, we came away with two CDs for ourselves and some gifts for friends.
After a stopover in sponsor Fuze's misting tent (which could have used more mist, IOHO), back into the throng we went to see Battles. Apparently we weren't the only ones, as quite the crowd had bled from the main stage over to the Connector side, along with new arrivals. Battles kicked furious ass; we were loving the live looping and the band's fiery attitude. Knob-twiddling never looked so fun. Rocking out left us with hunger pangs, so we ambled over to the ATM to replenish our cash flow. Oh, how we wish we hadn't blown our money on those CDs! The enormous line barely moved at all, it seemed. After half an hour, we finally got our money on; the culprit seemed to be the wireless connection, and the shoddiness of the machine in general. One would hope a major festival would be backed by a bank of some sort. Something to work on, to be sure. At the very least, another ATM was needed somewhere in the park. Thankfully a basketball game broke out while we were waiting, prompting one guy in line to shout, "Are they fucking playing knockout?!" to his companion, whom he then abandoned to assert his manhood.
Food lines were no better than the ATM. Connie's took the prize for length in our estimation, while Goose Island 312 booths were plentiful and quick-moving. We were suckered in by the promise of coconut shrimp at Suzie's Funnel Cake stand, waiting another 25 minutes for five shrimp at $7 a pop. OK shrimp, great orange sauce. Temptation's soy mint chocolate chip ice cream washed down our meal with efficacy, though we wondered what the vegan chips were made of. We hate to say it, but by the time we got our frosty treat we were done for the day, pretty much as our Chicagoist companion was just getting settled. Although we really wanted to see Girl Talk, we couldn't imagine standing around until 8:30 with our legs already threatening to give out from under us. If we'd known more bands it might have been a different story, but claustrophobia was also setting in, with waves upon waves of people everywhere we looked.
Our verdict? Unless we're familiar with a larger number of bands next time (we did some serious AMG research for Touch & Go and knew more of what to expect), we'll just stay home. While the one band we were dying to see delivered, by the time we left, we never wanted to see another feathered hairstyle or tweed hat again. Chicagoist's main Pfork account did nothing to make us wish we'd stayed longer, especially with Girl Talk ending up such a mess. We're glad we went, in an oblique, now-I-know-what-I'm-missing way. We'll give up our admission to someone else more deserving next year.
Make sure to check out all our photos from Pitchfork on Chicagoist's Flickr page.