5 Things You Need to Know About Pitchfork Music Festival From A Veteran

07/12/2012

Pitchfork Festival 2012 goes down this weekend. We here at SF Critic want to make sure you know how to prepare, and so we reached out to veteran Chicago blogger/Pitchfork attendee, Veronica Murtagh of Cream Team to help prepare you. Here’s her words of wisdom:

1) Save your appetite. 

Festival food, as a general rule, sucks. I can think of few things more nauseating than biting into a monster-sized slice of gooey deep dish pizza outdoors on a 90-degree afternoon. Fear not foodies (and vegans), Pitchfork’s particular brand of we’re-not-trying-too-hard-but-we’re-actually-trying-really-hard has trickled from their site pages to their festival food tents. If you’re not from Chicago, the festival provides the perfect opportunity to sample many of the city’s well-reviewed establishments in one convenient location. Amongst the highlights of this year’s lineup are Black Dog Gelato, Star Lounge, Chicago Diner, The Rice Table and Big Star. Don’t worry. If you find yourself nearing heatstroke with a wicked deep dish pizza craving, that’ll be there too. 

2) Don’t wear black jeans. 

Come over here and have a seat. I’m going to tell you a story about a girl who wore black jeans to Pitchfork. “But I wear black jeans everyday,” she said. “It’s not going to be thattttt hot. I’ll be fine.” Wrong. She was not fine. First, she sat in the shade for awhile. Before long she was too uncomfortable to even care about the music. Without saying goodbye to her friends she fled in the direction of the nearest bus stop and headed home, missing all the acts she’d most anticipated. When the afternoon temperature somehow peaks at 10 degrees hotter than anyone expected you don’t want to be the idiot who wore black jeans. Sincerely, the idiot who wore black jeans.

3) Bring lots of cash.

Pitchfork is one part music and one part go broke bazaar. You’ll want to bring (or buy) a tote bag for all the purchases you’ll be hauling home. Local independent radio station CHIRP sets up a record fair in the shade, Featherproof Books mans the Book Fort and Coterie Chicago brings together crafters. Flatstock, a traveling poster show featuring music and art prints from over 30 artists is not to be missed. Ask nicely and they’ll hold your purchases for pickup at the end of the day. If you’re festival bound on a strict budget, don’t avoid the tents entirely. Browse, grab some business cards and shop later from home. Most of the vendors do accept plastic, but I’d recommend keeping it simple with a stack of cash.

4) Set up a meeting point.

Any music festival can be summarized with the same four words: I lost my friends. Your phone is dead by early evening (if it even got service in the first place) and you’re left with an important choice: conduct a desperate search or give up and enjoy the music solo. But unlike the citywide sprawl of SXSW or the immovable crowds of Lollapalooza, Pitchfork is a pleasantly manageable festival. Spread across a city park, it’s more of a stroll than a marathon. Finding your lost friends isn’t a hopeless mission. Agree on a meeting point in advance and plan to walk past between sets. The baseball diamond, or one of the vendor areas make great meetup spots.

5) Make time for an unfamiliar act. 

Music festivals are great opportunities to discover your new favorite band, if you let yourself. It’s easy amidst the excitement of the festival atmosphere to fall into the trap of following your friends around and seeing the same five bands you’ve seen ten times before. Break away from the group and wander for an hour. Give someone new a chance. Make a promise to catch one act you’re unfamiliar with this weekend.