Pitchfork Festival Injects Democracy Into Live Set Lists

On March 6th, Pitchfork Festival announced part of their headlining lineup, and a very interesting fan voting systemm, too.

They’re allowing fans who purchase tickets during a specific time frame the ability to:

Starting on Friday night, we’re kicking off a new series called “Write the Night: Set Lists by Request.” You, the audience, vote on which songs all four bands– Built to Spill, the Jesus Lizard, Yo La Tengo, and Tortoise– will play. It’ll work like this: When you buy your ticket, you’ll get a confirmation email. That confirmation email will include a link to a page where you can vote on which songs from each band you want to hear. The bands will tailor their set lists accordingly. Oh, and did we mention this is the Jesus Lizard’s first American show in a decade? Righteous, yes?

Now I know, at first, this seems like a fun thing for fans to do. And a creative way to generate excitement for the festival. But does this leave any room for the surprise factor?

Does this make the live music experience more like a call-in radio show? Does this remove any creative control for the band and eliminate any sort of spontaneity to the performance? Is it good to inject the democratic process into the live concert experience? Isn’t a bit of set list anarchy and unpredictability why we love live music so much?

Do we want the show to be more like our ipod play lists and less like a moment of pleasurable anxiety and compelling uncertainty? If we know what songs their going to play, how much does it take away from the purpose of a live show? Does it turn the band into human jukeboxes, or does it just cut to the chase and give into our consuming behavior to hear songs that match our emotions in that moment?

And what if fans choose songs that are reflections of the emotional moment during the voting process and are actually not the best choice for a live show? Will Pitchfork give fans the option to tweet new songs suggestions, if they realize their choices are not what they really want?

Lots of questions. I know. But it should be interesting to see how the voting turns out and if it really does translate to a great live show experience. I know I’m looking forward to it!

What do you think?

Is this good, bad, or somewhere in between?

Let’s decide.

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