July 19, 2008

Pitchfork Music Festival - Day One

Note: Lightning's Girl is on vacation so until she can come back and tell you about her trip, I'm filling in with my visit to the Pitchfork Music Festival - Derek Sunshine

A couple of months ago some DJs at the station asked if I wanted to go to the Pitchfork Music Festival. I hadn't really thought about going - I'm generally not a festival kind of guy. But I thought about it and now here I am in Chicago at the festival.

The venue

Union Park is a real city park. The main concerts are on three softball fields (the porta-johns are lined up against the backstops of two of them). The market appears to be set up on the basketball courts and the beverage tents are amidst the tree covered areas near the road. Except for the massive video screens near the stages, this could be an ethnic food festival or a large church fair.

Oh, and beverage prices are beyond reasonable - they may in fact be lower than the surrounding bars. A 16oz cup of micro-brew beer is $4 and bottled water is $2! Sparks is the most expensive offering at $6 a cup, but I suspect that the combination of caffeine, alcohol and heat makes for some ugly dehydration (and a killer hangover the next morning if you overindulge).

Mission Of Burma


Friday night is the "Don't Look Back" concerts: three acts playing entire albums of material from the the 80s. Mission of Burma kicked off the night with Vs.

To fill out the slot, they started with some early singles, including "Forget" (one of my favorite MoB songs), then tore through Vs. Hearing it live, two things struck me -

1. The music on Vs. is meant to be heard live. The record is dry, minimal and aggressive on record, a combination that works so much better live.

2. It's music that ages very well. It's so angry and so intelligent that it somehow seems more appropriate to be played by older musicians. It becomes a post-punk, Blakean epic about the fall from grace and the doubt of any clear path to redemption.

If the goal of the "Don't Look Back" night was to provide a once in a lifetime musical opportunity, Mission of Burma succeeded.

Sebadoh - Bubble and Scrape

Out of Sebadoh's prolific output, I never got Bubble and Scrape so this set was more of an education. Actually, for the start of it, we went back to the beverage tents as did much of the audience. Sebadoh suffered for being in between the better known albums, but they did put on a great set. The main drawback to their set was that sticking to the album continuity involved switching instruments a lot more than you'd normally do in a live show.

It takes a million nation.

The popular draw the the night was definitely PE. The Friday only tickets are pretty inexpensive, so the part filled up for Public Enemy; in fact, a lot of folks began staking out spots in front of PE's stage during the Sebadoh set.

It's an amazing album (though Flav can't seem to remember the name any more) and PE had the crowd rocking. They also went way over their time, playing all of It Takes a Nation Of Millions then going into what seems to be a regular PE concert. At that point, my gange of concert goers was too hungry, sweaty and tired so we grabbed the number 9 bus in search of pizza.

Overall, Friday night was worth the trip. I'm hoping today measures up. It's rainy this morning and it looks like scattered rain this afternoon.

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