Notes on the Pitchfork Music Fest

July 22, 2008

Nick Zinner of !!!, doing what Nick Zinner does.

I’m currently working on my annual “trend spotting” type list of what I saw at this weekend’s festivities. (You can check out last year’s here.) If you are not aware, Pitchfork is a festival that brings local, national and international talent together, so they can all look at how each other are dressing. Oh yeah, there’s music there too.

It was a pretty good year, actually, but I was hoping for more in the “style” department, not sure why. It could be for anyone of these three reasons:

  1. As Pitchfork notoriety has grown in the last three years, perhaps the fest’s “edgy” feel has worn off a bit, and with that, it’s forward-dressing attendees have diluted.
  2. My disillusionment and unending distaste for anything new or old
  3. I am WAY ahead of all trends now.

Bradford James Cox of Deerhuner and Mark Sultan of King Kahn attempt to entertain impatient Cut Copy fans. “A” for effort.

The feast was actually really fun. !!! killed, which is no surprise. Les Savy Fav was awesome, also no surprises there. Biggest issue with the event was actually Cut Copy’s failure to make it from the airport in time for their closing set. Though that’s no fault of their own, it’s still supremely disappointing. In what allotted time was left, they made the most of it, banging out both crowd-bouncers “Light & Music”, and “Hearts on Fire” to an enthused (but obviously peeved) crowd. Those that stuck around to see the hyper-abbreviated set worked very hard for an encore which didn’t come — chanting “Five More Songs, Five More Songs” probably didn’t help.

Before I write about “trend spotting” thing, which I’ll post about tomorrow probably, I wanted to mention things I didn’t see but expected to…

  • Party-Rappers: I saw very few nu-rave/b-boy kids. There were a few zany fluorescent windbreakers in the crowd, but surprisingly few retina-burning limited-edition hightops, Kanye-esque Venitian blind sunglasses, and “crosscolor” wear.
  • American Apparel Smack Girls: Emaciated heroin-chic AmAp mannequins, looking like the Olsen twins on a budget, did not take over the fest. I’m not particularly against American Apparel at all, but sometimes their style and color-choices are very disturbing. Just because you bought your entire outfit at the same store does NOT mean that it will automatically go together. They should put that as a disclaimer on the bag.
  • The Unapologetic Prep: With XRT-approved artists Vampire Weekend and Spoon both playing, and with coverage from outlets like Chicago rag The Red Eye, I anticipated seeing a lot more Chad/Trixie presence. V.W. especially, whose style is particularly “high-prep” did not bring out the J. Crew slew. Surprisingly, the most evidence I saw of this was on Friday during Public Enemy!(?) Who woulda’ thunk it? While Chuck D was talking about war, racism, Darfur, etc., there was a dude next to us going on a tirade about Chicago’s 10.25% sales tax. When Chuck was talking about the drug trade and Big Pharm, this guy started screaming about how much money he lost with his Pfizer stock last week. I’m NOT making this up.
  • Mud People: I’m am SO impressed with the lack of Mud People over the weekend. The hippie count, though present at the fest, was still at very low levels. Very few idiots thought it a good idea to douse themselves completely in mud. Yes, L.S.V. did it, but they’re on a stage — you are not.

Check back soon for a quick overview of what was stylin’ this year, and what you will soon see in your local bar if your local bar has Yo La Tengo on the juke box.

Oh, and just to streamline the process, here’s all the missed connections posted from this weekend so far. You’re welcome:

Jul 21 – My new friend from the East Coast – w4m – 29 – (Pitchfork)

Jul 21 – Pitchfork — the draw of the music kept me from stopping to chat – m4w – 30 – (Pitchfork)

Jul 21 – Broken arm dude at pitchfork – w4m – 22 – (pitchfork)

Jul 21 – giant camera lense and gray cut off jeans boy – w4m –

Jul 21 – To all the beautiful women at pitchfork that I missed (and still miss) – m4w – 28 – (Union Park)

Jul 21 – I saw you yesterday, but we still haven’t seen Of Montreal – m4w – 22 – (pitchfork)

Jul 21 – you asked if i’d blow the next hit in your mouth – m4w – 25 – (pitchfork animal collective)

Jul 21 – Rae…Ghost…Empty Cups…Backpacks – m4w – (pitchfork)

Jul 21 – your friends called you caleb – 25 – (pitchfork)

Jul 21 – Pitchfork: owl belt buckle both days – m4w – 26 – (union park)

Jul 21 – To The Hula Hoop Chick From Pitchfork (Saturday Night) – m4w – (Pitchfork)

Jul 21 – Can I see you again? – m4w – 28 – (Pitchfork) pic

Jul 21 – Hey, another pitchfork post – m4w – 24 – (The pitch)

Jul 21 – pitchforked – m4w –

Jul 21 – Pitchfork’s No. 1 Boobs – m4w – 27 – (Pitchfork Music Fest)

Jul 21 – Pitchfork glance – m4w – 26 – (Pitchfork)

Jul 20 – pitchfork guy at cut copy – w4m – 21 – (pitchfork)

Jul 20 – pitchfork – w4m – 24 –

Jul 20 – Brad on the No. 9 to Pitchfork – w4m – 25 – (Ashland to Lake St.)

Jul 20 – tennessee and pitchfork boy – w4m –

Jul 20 – Cute girl at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Saturday – m4w – 26 – (Chicago)

Jul 20 – Pitchfork — Throwing up near the entrance – w4m – 21 – (Union Park)

Jul 20 – saw you at the art museum AND pitchfork –

Jul 19 – Katie, this is Alex from Pitchfork – m4w – 22 – (Union Park)

Jul 19 – Pitchfork–your friend asked to unzip my shirt – w4m – 25 –

Jul 19 – you were working by the jewlry – w4w – (pitchfork)

Jul 19 – pitchfork – (indielove)

Jul 19 – Pitchfork Fest – 25 – (Union Park)

Jul 19 – pitchfork girl with guy’s face tattooed on left arm – m4w – 27 – (grant park)

Jul 18 – Pitchfork Cutie – Blue Cubs Hat and Glasses – m4m – 33 – (Pitchfork)

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Rodrigo y Gabriela at The Hideout

January 28, 2007

Another random weekend night landed me in a hilariously long line outside one of my favorite spots: The Hideout. The bar is aptly named; hidden in an industrial area of town near North Ave and Elston and it’s not an easy find if you don’t know where you’re heading. Then again, judging by the queue, the place isn’t exactly “hush-hush”. Hideout has a stellar entertainment reputation (comedy, poetry, music, etc), a great low-key vibe and a line that stretched out the door and down the block.


(Images taken From http://www.RodGab.com)

My pal Kate had tipped me off to a free early show hosted by WXRT. It’d be fair to say that XRT is “slipping” a bit as far as being a relevant Chicago music resource goes (XRT listener pole, the loss of Sound Opinions), but they’re still an authority if they highlight fabulous musicians like Mexico-via-Dublin’s Rodrigo y Gabriela. Hell, before I even saw them I relished saying their names in a thick, fake, latin accent: “Rrrodureeego Eeee Gabreeeeyayla.”

While we’re trying to keep warm out on Wabansia, there’s terrific music floating out the windows of The H/O… more slackers (myself included) begin to line up outside, annoyed that we’re not being let in. While we’re standing, and shivering, and smoking, snippets of gorgeous guitar work emanated though the open window facing the front patio. Intrigued outsiders started taking turns peeking into front window in hopes of catching a glimpse.

Within 10 or so minutes the crowd thinned out and the kindly Hideout staff let us in, so long as we promised to stay at the front bar. All of us promised and about half of us complied. Being a good kid I took a seat at the front bar, ordered a round of Old Styles, and took it all in: The bar aglow with homemade paper snowflakes and Christmas lights, the mixed-bag crowd, and the gorgeous acoustic onslaught that was filtering in from the crowded room behind us.

Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I joined the dozen or so that opted to just stand on chairs and tables in the bar in hopes of seeing the stage. The backroom was packed with the exact type of people I picture listening to XRT and some terrible world music CDs. (Also, side note: RodGab would politely punch you in the gullet for saying they were “world music”). Peering over the adult-contempo crowd, I spotted two mild-mannered guitarists laying out beautiful, seemingly effortless classical guitar picking with a flair that married Latin and Led Zepplin.

When Rodrigo Sanchez would occasionally drop into complicated fretwork, the capacity crowd remained absolutely silent. At other times the sound assault was so dynamic you’d think there were more than a pair of acoustic guitars on stage. Part of that sound is Gabriela Quintero’s percussive style–occasionally punishing her guitar strings to create jagged rhythms and using the hollow body of her guitar in substitution of a proper drum kit. The combined effect of the duo was overwhelming–a full sound that belied the two dexterous and mild-mannered performers on stage.

The show ended (after a superb rendition of Stairway… NOT joking), and Gabriela graciously thanked the crowd in charming, broken English. A few minutes later, (and after a much-appreciated appearance by those Nomadic Tamale Guys) the pair waived goodbye to the handful of onlookers and hopped into a waiting cab.