Your 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival Survival Guide

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 18, 2013 3:00PM

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Don't try this particular maneuver at home, kids. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

We look forward to the weekend the Pitchfork Music Festival lands in Union Park every year. We love music festivals that are actually woven into the fabric of a Chicago neighborhood and Pitchfork does it so seamlessly that it feels absolutely natural that a band will be playing onstage a couple feet in front of you while little kids dance and swim in the park pool to the left of you. And since we've been there every year since the festival's inception we've picked up a few tips and tricks we'd like to share with you to ensure you have just as awesome a weekend as we will.

Water. Bring sealed bottles of the stuff. Of everything you need to make sure your weekend is a success, this is number one. You need to stay hydrated out there, and while the forecast for this weekend calls for largely pleasant weather you never know what will happen, and those wide open fields can turn into big reflector ovens pretty quickly. And I know plenty of you will be boozing it up so water is important in that equation too if you still want to be standing when the headliners take the stage(s). And keep those empties! You can refill them at a water station (though be prepared to wait in line for a while).

Plan your attack. While our crew run from stage to stage at the festival because it's our job, most folks seem to have the best time making choices and planning a home base. I recommend if you're sticking with the Red and Green stages and don't care about being up close and personal, set up camp between the two and then you need merely pivot a few degrees either way to catch the bands. If you're more a Blue stage person, get there early and set up since once that area starts to fill up it's impossible to get back in the open space that offers the best view and sound.

Ditch the car. This weekend the CTA is your friend. In fact there's almost nothing more amusing than watching the Ashland bus turn into a traveling hipster circus (more so than usual). However if you live within a mile or two of the festival, just walk. It's faster. Every bus that comes by you will be stuffed to the vents. The Green and Pink Line trains stop right at Union Park so that's the dreamiest way to go, if you can. And of course you can ride your bike and add it to the art installation that is the bike rack area. Leaving the fest with several thousand of your new best friends means it can take a while to get home, so if you're not wild about a headliner then leave early and beat the rush instead of sticking around and partying.

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The author surviving a previous Pitchfork Music Festival. Photo by Clayton Hauck
Dress for success. Get ridiculous. This is the one weekend where everyone is going to judge everyone else regardless of what they're wearing, so you may as well make it count. O.K., I admit you'll probably see me rolling my eyes frequently but I'm an old man and my opinion on what you're wearing really doesn't count. But if you truly want to dress for success make sure you have a poncho somewhere on your person. No matter how awesome you look, you will be absolutely miserable if you get drenched.

Wander. This is a fest with great food vendors, a huge record store and a section that serves mainly as a big ol' art gallery for you to peruse. Take advantage of this stuff if there's some downtime between the bands you want to see.

Put an app on it! The Pitchfork Music Festival has an app that can help you survive the weekend in style as well. Get it for iPhone or get it for Android.

Fun, fun, fun in the summer sun. Sunglasses. Sunblock. End of story.

Keep the party going. There is a ton of stuff to do after things wrap in Union Park each night and Do312 has done a nice job of trying to catalog them all. My personal favorite is Sailor Jerry's Cobrafest at Cobra Lounge because it combines my favorite things: booze, loud LOUD music (like The Bronx) and free tattoos. And it's right by Union Park and it's free with an RSVP so you can't really go wrong.

Say hi! If you see any of us Chicagoist folks there, come up and say hi! We don't bite. Usually.

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 Preview: Friday
Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 Preview: Saturday
Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 Preview: Sunday