"Pitchfork...never heard of it. I like gangsta rap, cop killing gangsta rap. Alright... have a good time" with this uncomfortable admission from the buzz cut sportin', power hugging customs officer, myself, some peeps and our weapon of transport merge onto I-94 glaciering towards Chicago.
Hopping fancy along the aforementioned cities acquiesce architecture, feeling jazzed about VIP tickets to snag, adrenalin is stalled embracing the caterpillar envious shoelaced formation at the gate. With the talkie-talkies blarin, comedic relief summons as judging marshals organically decipher (in what is now the festival's ummth edition) that extra gate assistance and some fresh guest list prints may be yesterday wise. Impatience aside, we puddle through and find ourselves grasping weekend long complimentary 'Sparks' (dream of red bull spun thickly in vodka and orange crush) -$7 wallet pain at concessions- to accompany the less enticing 'Old Goose' sewer beer -$6 in festival grounds-.
How long to drive from Montreal to Chi-town...14 hours, how long till domesticated at the Pitchfork festival...1 minute. Now I like me a stand tall, independant festival headquartered by sonic bliss, but I also like a little internal audible signaled distraction to sidekick. Attractive as standing strong for six simultaneous hours of tunes appeals, it doesn't. Need to sway the goers off the diamond in the middle grounds, throw a bat, ball and some gloves out; initiate the alt-entertainment. Mind me, there stood a music orientated world record hub (be it most drum sticks held in one hand, most MJ tunes titled in 30 ticks while thrashing about on a pogo stick), years of show posters, and an army of arts n crafts. Yet, how quaint a distraction a mascot makes, an initiative or a scenic stroll. Rather, the grounds were tight, not a shadow formed of stuffed animals on polls, all in attendance seemed fashionably fair and porta potties hogged as popular booths. Credit where due, the eats menu salivated curiousity (Po' boy Catfish), the acts hit their marked set tick tocks quite accurately and stage transitions were flawless.
Now, now, an extremely pertinent aspect (stretching years above the mentioned) to consider in hosting a mammoth music fest...ensure quality sound. If you puddled away from the secluded third stage motioning forward to the bigger billed, you addled until sight oodling proximity whether anyone graced the mics. And if they did, you questioned who they were.
For all the snobbery the company offends on the www. the mystery lurks how the petty draw to close out the nights entailed: The National and The Flaming Lips. A colleague drilled a triple acknowledging the former verged winding into U2 hits with the riffs opening their ballads. While the Lips honed in old act they've been buffing what seems decades on, someday sound shall draw merit over trying antics.
The talent bored via: grizzly bear, final fantasy and beirut, neither seems equipped to translate well on a large platform. Other overrated hype: Yeasayer, Black Lips & M83 brought winners and losers, but mostly put me to sleep. Shutting my trap, much applause was felt for Built to Spill, The Very Best, Matt & Kim, Japandroids, slaving more sweat than the weekends clouds dispersed.
By not flaunting their title at site gates coupled with vacant stage hovering posts, Pitchfork warranted respect...not shoving business down fans throats, keeping attention on target. Yet, it's the lack of an appealing target that implies those fest adverting banners might have remained scarce on another take: embarrassment.