Pitchfork survival guide: 5 tips for a successful festival

Never underestimate a collective of geeks working towards a seemingly unmarketable goal fueled by passion alone.   

A decade and a half ago in Minneapolis, a couple of them created the online only music review site Pitchfork Media. Back then, the Internet was still in its infancy, a disorganized, meme-less, and oh-so-painfully-slow universe inhabited mostly by nerds, entrepreneurs, and pornography enthusiasts alike.

It's important to note that when Pitchfork started the web was more of a concept than the "necessity" it is today -- no one, not even the creators themselves, could have foreseen that this website, dedicated mostly to the under-the-radar indie acts Rolling Stone didn't have time for, would become the behemoth it is today.

In 2010, and since relocating to Chicago, Pitchfork Media is big business. The kings of online music journalism in a sea of the stuff, Pitchfork's opinions on music are both held in the highest esteem and loathed by hipster haters around the world. They've managed to launch careers for artists making glo-fi in their bedrooms, while sending ordinary men and women into all-caps tirades over scathing reviews of their favorite bands, all the while taking their to-the-decimal-point checks to the bank.     

For all the griping about Pitchfork, for those of us who really care about music, they are indispensable. Not only does Pitchfork directly influence our listening habits with their thorough (that's the nice way to say it) news and reviews, they now present arguably the Midwest's finest and easily most economical big summer festival. Big name acts and smaller critical darlings take over Union Park in Chigo every July for the Pitchfork Music Festival. If you are a music lover with reliable transportation in the Twin Cities, it's not to be missed.

City Pages is heading down to Chicago for the 5th installment of the festival since it took over the smaller Intonation festival in 2005. We'll be shooting video and tweeting about it all weekend, right here on Gimme Noise. If you're making the trip down, here are 5 tips from a fan who's been there every year and plans to continue the annual summer journey indefinitly.

If you're not a die hard fan of the headliner, leave before their encore.
As soon as the festival gets out the bus and train stops become absolute chaos. It can take hours to go blocks in crowded buses and that's not until you squeeze your way onto them. This might be tough this year with LCD Soundsystem and the reunited Pavement.

If you're going with friends, designate a meeting place for when you inevitably lose each other.
It's a small park with tons of people, so it's easy to get lost. Making matters worse, with so many people in a small space, cell phone reception is either dismal or non-existent. This is especially true when the festival gets out.

Talk to the locals.
Without their knowledge of the scene and sense of direction you could end up missing an intimate house show by your favorite band. There are always afterparties, and every year there's one that ends up being legandary. A small piece of me dies every time I think about the Animal Collective basement show I heard about after the fact.

Keep a schedule with you at all times.
There will be tough decisions. It sort of goes with the territory at any festival but is definitly something to think about. Do you want to see Panda Bear or have a good spot for LCD Soundsystem? Pity this busy monster, manunkind.

Avoid a hangover at all costs.
The days are long and it's going to be hot with little shade for relief. If you knock back too many Goose Islands on Friday night, Saturday will be rough. It's a challenge with so many parties going on and with good-for-a-festival prices on beer, but a bad hangover can be a serious blow to an otherwise great weekend. If you need to get loose, save it for Sunday night. You'll be exhausted on Monday anyways.

For up-to-the minute Pitchfork Festival tweets, follow @GimmePitchfork on Twitter, and stay tuned to Gimme Noise for our complete coverage of the festival.

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