The rise of drunken fights and bad behavior. Don’t know why it happened to pick up on the day without the Jesus Lizard, Fucked Up, or Black Lips, but there were more than a few drunken fights in between serious and sarcastic that did nothing but interrupt the fans who actually cared.
Fashion tend of the day:
Clearly the ironic wear was saved for Sunday along with the best bands. Webcomic t-shirts, Cowboys and Indians costumes, and giant Bunny heads were all too present.
WTF Moment of the night:
After the show, fans were rubbernecking to the street while piling on the Ashland-Lake CTA line. If there had been some sort of accident or weird occurrence, I’d understand. This just seemed like people watching and the most inappropriate time and place imaginable.
Best in Show:
The Thermals win here, mainly because they made grunge feel vital again without catering to nostalgia. Blitzen Trapper, The Very Best and Japandroids were close runners-up, and each trumped anything on Saturday.
Worst in Show:
Grizzly Bear. In a weekend that featured many yawners, this was the most egregious. Some were understandable. This one, the penultimate set in the main space, was inexcusable.
In its fourth year as the Pitchfork Music Festival (fifth if you include the ___), the fest became has become more of an establishment than Pitchfork’s top operators would feel comfortable admitting. There were certainly many problems: some bands were emphasized a lot more, some more established bands were disrespected, and some bands with just months under their belt were given far more attention than they deserved. Nonetheless, I can’t say the festival wasn’t enjoyable. Nor can I say I didn’t feel at home in the fest; it felt like the generational class of music I most belonged to, even if it jerked my tastes and emotions around frequently and violently.
With all the Woodstock nostalgia emerging on the 40th anniversary of the festival, it wouldn’t be all that preposterous to compare Woodstock in 1969 to Pitchfork in 2009. There was no brown acid at Pitchfork, and the crowd was better behaved and less based on revolutionary goals. That made the experience more enjoyable, but it also meant that the bands weren’t as good as they were at Woodstock, even using the standards within both time frames. What did stand out about Pitchfork was the influence punk has had on the last 30 years of music. Whether it was electronica, post-rock, soulful hip hop, crazy dance rock, folk, or simply pure rock ‘n’ roll, just about every band had a sense of independence, humbleness, and freewheeling nature that almost no band in 1969 had. The bands of this decade could work off their own terms and ambitions better than any previous decade of rock n roll, which made it a difficult time to built consensus, but a time that one day we’ll see as a rather astounding period of creativity, artistic freedom, and inclusiveness.