Monday, April 7, 2008

Live music: Chicago summer festivals

Somehow in the past five years, Chicago has become a hotspot for prominent music festivals. Here’s how I would spend my time at Pitchfork Fest and Lollapalooza if I decide to go.

Pitchfork Fest is from July 18-20 at Grant Park. On Friday night, three seminal bands (Public Enemy, Mission of Burma, +1 TBA) take the stage to perform classic albums. This year’s lineup is weak compared to last year, when GZA spit out Liquid Swords and Sonic Youth ripped through Daydream Nation. I wasn’t there, but I heard it ruled!

On Saturday, I would start by seeing Animal Collective. I don’t even like them, but I do love Panda Bear, and the potential to see a song off Person Pitch would be too great to ignore. If anything, I could catch a few tracks off their lukewarm release, Strawberry Jam (best song: ‘Chores’). I would then follow the footprints of boat shoes and the smell of sea air over to the Vampire Weekend stage. I am interested to see if they’re good live and how the crowd will react. Diego doesn’t like them. If I had to fill time, I’d do it by catching Fleet Foxes’ set, The Ruby Suns’ set, or by eating overpriced concessions.

On Sunday, the festival really heats up. I hope Dinosaur Jr. plays a set late in the day so I can preserve my eardrums. What better way to start a Sunday than by dancing to the jams of El Guincho? Alegranza totally rules! Next, I would position myself as close as possible to the Boris stage. If they play ‘Farewell’, I will leave the weekend a happy man. Finally, Spiritualized is sure to be awesome. In my spare time, I would go see Raekwon, Pretty Toney, and M. Ward.

Lollapalooza. August 1-3. Grant Park. Is it better than Pitchfork? Maybe. Not sure how I feel yet. I’d be down for a set from NiN, but I would rather not watch Radiohead. I’d be down for a set from Rage, but I’d prefer the grooves of Kanye. Wilco? I’ll pass. The most important part of Lolla is the National. If you don’t know, or don’t care, you lose out. I would also check out Brand New’s set, Lupe Fiasco (awesome live), Explosions in the Sky, Girl Talk, Battles, and the Weakerthans. As much as Pitchfork gets criticized for being a hype machine, Lollapalooza is buying right into it. Good work booking MGMT guys!

Wow, that was a lot of typing. Pitchfork will be better because the lineup is better and because it’s cheaper. Lollapalooza will be better if you want to hear a sweeping rendition of “Fake Plastic Trees” or “Crazy”. I’ll probably go to both. See ya there!

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