Pitchfork Music Festival 2011: What to Expect, What to See and More

Jul 6, 2011 at 10:17 am

Sometimes the Iternets can put on one helluva flesh-and-blood show. Pitchfork Music Festival is run by the music blog of the same name, which just announced it's expanding to Paris this fall with an overseas version of the festival to be curated by (Everybody Loves) Bon Iver.

The American branch claims to focus on affordability and comfort, while bringing together more than 40 blog-annointed indie bands (Animal Collective, anyone?) in Chicago's urban Union Park. Most of the featured bands - though they range from rock and hip hop to acoustic and electronica - are on the rise and have garnered Best New Music nods from the website's reviewers, so we've included the artists' latest Pitchfork 10.0-scale ratings below. (Y'know, if you're into that kind of thing.) So will the blog's seventh festival year live up to the hype?

Pitchfork Music Festival July 15-17 Chicago, Illinois

Distance from St. Louis: 300 miles -- 5 hours driving (longer if you're taking Megabus or Amtrak)

Location: Union Park, Chicago (1501 West Randolph, corner of Ashland and Lake)

Cost: Single-day passes are still available at $45. (Multiply by three...carry the one...equals $135 for three days.)

Lodging: If you live in St. Louis, you probably have a buddy who resides in Chicago, or as we like to call it, baseball purgatory. Stay with your friends, if you want to do things on the cheap and you haven't puked on their couch recently. If that's not possible, your pricier option is a hotel. The Pitchfork website helpfully offers links to hotels and a couple of Chicago hostels, but those $20 dorm beds have long since sold out.

Know This: No re-entry! Once you've entered Union Park, there you shall remain, so settle in.

Key Acts: Find the full schedule here. But in our humble opinion... If you can only attend one of the festival's three days, we recommend going Sunday, when the bands are most exciting to our fluttering hearts and fickle ears. Catch Yuck (8.1), the best band of '90s revivalists who were born in the '90s, then brace yourself for a more disturbing crew of teenagers: OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All), the L.A. hip hop collective (currently minus Earl Sweatshirt) on its breakneck trajectory to domination of a nightmarish new rap world. Sunday evening rushes into night with Superchunk, Deerhunter (8.9, 9.2), HEALTH (7.8, 7.4) and TV On The Radio (9.2, 7.7). If you make it for the weekend, don't miss Battles (9.1), tUnE-yArDs (6.8, 8.8), and Fleet Foxes (9.0, 8.8), which is apparently a big deal. Check the full schedule for a complete list of bands.

Pack: We're sure you've already donned your fake Ray Bans and your one-size-too-small straw fedora. But don't forget your "medium-sized backpack" full of "sealed bottled water" (taken from the festival's list of "Non-prohibited items"). Last year, the Windy City got steamy, and though the festival made hydration a priority (slashing prices of bottled water, security dousing the front rows with a steady stream), standing in line to refill your water could mean missing some even hotter acts.

Aftershows: Each night of the festival ends at 10 p.m., which makes finding an aftershow absolutely necessary. P4K has a list of after-parties and other weekend shows here. We're most tempted by the Hood Internet show at Darkroom, which costs $12 at the door with a Pitchfork Festival wristband or ticket stub.

St. Louis Connection: Fleet Foxes will play the Pageant just two days after Pitchfork. TV on the Radio, Deerhunter and Das Racist (8.7) will all make appearances at Loufest in August.

Lesser-known Julianna Barwick, whose sound Diplo described as "carebears making love," writes music influenced by growing up in Springfield, Missouri. She plays the green stage on Saturday at 1 p.m. Local music blog Music of the Hour posted an interview with Barwick in February.

Worth It? Absolutely. It's affordable and is one of the Midwest's only chances to catch these bands - many still up-and-coming or big-on-the-coasts - corralled in Chicago's friendlier confines.