I Hated Pitchfork Fest And It Was Perfect


First off, the title above is intentionally misleading because the point I want to make with this piece is that hate or disagreement in art can sometimes be positive.  Unlike many large music festivals around the world, Pitchfork Fest constantly takes a unique leap in building lineups that challenge their audiences and as a result cause their crowd to explore a range of critical emotions that closely mimics experiencing music on a everyday basis.  I found myself constantly loving, hating, or being indifferent to band after band at Pitchfork Fest.  In that, when concluding my thoughts on Pitchfork Fest, I came to the realization that the festival offers the unique experience of forcing their attendees to experience a range of music across multiple genres, decades, and maybe, just maybe, cause them to think outside of their own comfort zone of listening habits.

I know this is true because I was forced to consider the music ranging from Lil B to Swans.  I watched the faces of die-hard fans for both of these acts and allowed myself to see the show through their love and perspective for the music being presented.  It was in this that my own personal taste was challenged, not to change, but to see music from all angles.  When a musician sits down to create art, an infinite amount of paths to a final document present themselves.  As I walked from stage to stage and experienced a wealth of different sounds and musical personalities, I realized what I spectacular job Pitchfork did recreating and illuminating the artists journey through these unknown paths of creation.  That’s why, even when I was seething about Savages or confused by Lil B, the festival couldn’t have been more perfect in the fact that enjoyment in music is unique to the individual person, but the festival itself was a challenge to each person to grow, consider, and most importantly connect with the simple fact that music is a complicated beast that requires an open mind.

The festival also provided many opportunities where my common negative attitude was washed away.  Seeing the up and coming Angel Olsen play in front of such a large crowd was an exciting celebration of talent on stage without any gimmicks.  The respectfully quiet crowd for Joanna Newsom gave me hope for the ability of people to momentarily allow the artist to be the center of their world rather than idle chatter and the checking of their phones.  Killer Mike and El-P shined as a benchmark for hip-hop acting as moral voices who can have fun but still deliver a deep and sincere message through their art.  Wire, Swans, The Breeders, and Bjork acted as a visual and audible history lesson of how music has developed over decades and regardless of taste, how these bands shaped sound forever.

Pitchfork Music Festival was also the smoothest run large music festival I’ve ever been to.  What other music festivals can learn from Pitchfork is that the little things can make a huge difference.  Examples of this are the security staff handing out free water at the front of the stage, free sun block being offered at first aid stands, an ease of the festival grounds layout, on time scheduling, tons of activities for music fans including a poster row, vinyl shopping provided by great labels and record stores, and a book/zine tent that featured readings by some of the current top music writers.  It was these small efforts to ensure no crowd member was irrationally uncomfortable that lead to a visual response from one of the happiest and respectable festival crowds I’ve seen in some time. 

I apologize for misleading you with the title that "I Hated Pitchfork Fest", it’s actually quite the opposite.  The biggest takeaway from Pitchfork Fest 2013 was that we as music lovers must demand that other festivals show the guts that Pitchfork has since the creation of their festival.  I’m sick of the same old lineup with identical bands/artists repeated over and over.  I much rather witness a few bands that I dislike to be rewarded with the experience more similar with the personal exploration of music than seeing mediocre band after another with no apparent desire to challenge the audience.

If you’re looking for other music festivals that offer this same experience, I suggest looking into Hopscotch and Cropped Out.