Out of Town Pitchfork Music Festival: Liquid Swords, Daydream Nation
posted by July 14 at 1:49 PMon
Reported by Mairead Case. Photo of GZA by soundfromwayout.
The Pitchfork Music Festival happens in Union Park, which is donut-shaped, the hole being a lake, with ducks. Day One (of three) started at 5 pm, and three bands played three albums in full: Slint did Spiderland; GZA Liquid Swords; and Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation. Union Park sort of fingers off downtown’s fist, so the El there was half Young Urban Professional, half sad-eyed showgoers with curly hair and post-ironic owl sweaters. “I am so, so excited for the Sonic Youth reunion,” said the boy behind me. “But dude, they never broke up,” said the girl he was with, and this was so happiness-making that they kissed.
“Our hope is to distinguish the event as more than just music,” reads the Pitchfork brochure. It uses words like “comfortable,” “friendly,” “cultural institutions” and “not-for-profit organizations.” This is an important hope, stemming from Pitchfork’s snarky reputation and Chicago’s block party culture, but I’m still waiting to see if the word’ll become flesh. That says nothing about Pitchfork, everything about how the summer festival de rigeur is now beer without the pong, consumer activism, and girls wearing eighty-dollar “recycled D.I.Y.” pillowcase dresses. That’s cool—I like beer—but still the guys at the Obama ’08 table, and the Campaign for Better Health Care one, and even the two NPO tents: They all looked lonely. Maybe that’ll change on Saturday.
Completely appalled by my crabby parental mindset, I grabbed a Goose Island (beer’s cheap at Chicago festivals, and water, too) and moved up front. Slint Spiderlanded like putting a needle to the record, which I suppose is important when you’re still geling with a new bandmember (as they are), but it did take some fire out of the show. Liquid Swords fireworked and got the crowd neck-snapping, but when Sonic Youth came out it was like the park turned gold, and green. The quartet climbed into the album and busted it a new skylight, Kim dancing like a windmill dervish and skinny white Thurston not caring about the hair in his eyes. They are so cool you want them to be your best friends, so you use first names and it feels like they might be.
Afterwards, the fans biked off but the bands stood on the sidewalk, waiting for cabs to the afterparty. “If we were in Brooklyn,” said one guy, “we’d’ve found one already.” “And if we were in Austin,” said his buddy, “we’d just walk.” By now it was midnight. Sorry, guys.