Final (sweartagod) Thoughts on Pitchfork
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 17, 2007 8:05PM
O.K., given the coverage we've already lavished on the little indie fest that could, we're going to keep this brief. Overall we would rate the entire experience a good one, but we agreed with one of our colleagues when he said, "there was a sense ... that the fest was starting to experience growing pains." We don't know if this is because indie rock has become so fully integrated into the mainstream that this third festival curated by Pitchfork seemed different than the first two, or if it's just that the natural progression of things is to grow larger each year. Either way we admit to being a little confused since last year's fest was also sold out, yet none of the things that created hitches last weekend (well, almost none) were a problem before.
The biggest problem was with the sound. Sound checks would erupt in the middle of other band's sets, and the volumes were disappointingly low for many of the acts. This was a problem on the main stages, but it all but paralyzed the effectiveness of the side stage. And speaking of the side stage, this was a problem last year, but it was REALLY a problem this year ... it is terribly placed. The narrow alley can't hold the thousands of kids trying to funnel through. Pitchfork could utilize the space to book more avant garde acts that might not have a huge following built in, since it would be a nice area to be exposed to new music, but for acts that already have a large following, it's just untenable.
In the area of minor inconveniences, we noticed folks irked for long lines to beer tents and bathrooms. We're assuming that the two go hand in hand, but it's worth noting that this wasn't an issue last year. Was this because of the shifting demographic of attendees more interested in booze than hydration (none of the long water lines of last year were visible)? We did notice that these two were larger issues Friday and Saturday, but not so inconvenient Sunday. It would be interesting to see if, even though the show was technically sold-out, attendance was down on the last day.
The biggest complaint we heard from festival-goers, though, was the rule against re-entry. Personally we remember the bad ol' days of the original Lollapalooza when there was no re-entry, and beer / food prices were astronomical, but in today's climate, most folks expect to be able to leave and return to an outdoor festival at their leisure. pampered kids. We kid, of course, and come down on the side of allowing re-entry. It'd be better for the bands to have refreshed fans, better for nearby businesses who would benefit from the revenue, and better for organizers since the bathroom lines might be slightly alleviated by folks taking a breather off the grounds.
On the plus side, the music was pretty great, the security guards more pleasant than usual, everyone seemed ready with an "excuse me" as they made their way through the crowd, and the volunteers and other folks working the festival grounds were friendly and readily forthcoming with information whenever we asked. The festival as a whole is a can't-beat-it value for the amount of entertainment you get for your buck, but Pitchfork is going to have to make a few adjustments to regain the heights they experienced their first two years as far as the total experience is concerned. We suppose that's inevitable as you grow in popularity.