Every experience is an opportunity to learn lessons. Sunday, the last day of the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival, was overflowing with lessons about life, appearances and, most important, the significance of indie rock (slight). Here's the schooling that Chicago's own Pitchfork Media put on a sold-out crowd in Union Park on the city's near west side:
Just because you use a wall of vocal reverb on your album doesn't mean you can't actually sing. This was the case with Best Coast singer Bethany Cosentino, whose lack of vocal effects during her set made it sound better than the recorded "lo-fi" songs on her album.
The best way to induce groans and alienate all of the people standing around you is by making stupid puns about bands' names. For example: "I hope it doesn't rain today. The festival could get 'Washed Out.' We'd have to stand on the 'Pavement' so our shoes won't get dirty. I hope we don't get struck by a 'Lightning Bolt.'"
Speaking of Washed Out, if you're charming enough, like singer Ernest Greene, you can skip playing your minor hit "Feel it All Around" and people will still leave your set satisfied.
Just because your band is "new" in the indie-rock world and you're relegated to the small stage at the festival doesn't mean your crowd is going to be tiny. Ask Local Natives, for one; having a small stage overflowing with people is better than having a big stage that's only about 20 percent full.
Sometimes, people just need to hear something angry and ear-piercing. While a little out of their element, Lightning Bolt captured the hearts of many who felt the urge to rock as opposed to listening to quiet, pretty music.
Pitchfork is different from many music festivals, because many bands on the lineup don't fit the archetype of "festival band." So, when you get that festival-ready band, it becomes that much better. Major Lazer stole the hearts of everyone in attendance, and it became clear that sweaty mobs of people just want to dance, put their hands in the air like they just don't care, and watch performers perform acrobatic feats of dry humping. It's the truth.
As a vetaren artist going it a new direction, it's never good to forget your past. Good thing Big Boi didn't, playing Outkast standards like "So Fresh and So Clean," "Ms. Jackson" and "B.O.B." much to the crowd's delight.
Finally, you really can't teach an old dog new tricks, especially if that dog is Pavement. Characterized early in their career as pop geniuses who hadn't quite mastered their respective instruments, two decades later the band still plays with the trademark slop that endeared its fan base to them to begin with.
Say what you want about the negative side of Pitchfork Music Festival, but here's what makes it great. It's cheap, intimate and fun, which for pretentious music aficionados or simply music geeks is all they really ask for. That and all the songs Pavement couldn't fit into their hour and a half of stage time.