Chew On This: Did Trident Revitalize Fans at Pitchfork Music Festival?

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Okay, now it’s time to share some more fan stories from Pitchfork Music Festival 2011! Check out the video above as we explored the Trident Vitality Lounge and had an ‘AWAKEN’ing session at the oxygen bar. Sorry for the shakiness of the video, I think they had the oxygen cranked up a bit to high while I was filming.

As you’ll see, we asked two fellow concert fans about how the oxygen bar session was impacting their Pitchfork experience.

And this was a great opportunity to continue our exploration of how our senses play a role during a concert, and how Wrigley’s 5 gum experience gave Coachella fans a chance to get interactive with their chewing gum.

And though it wasn’t nearly as digitally interactive at 5 Gum’s, Trident had a slightly similar angle at Pitchfork this year with their more physically and sensually-focused Vitality Lounge that offered fans free massages, relaxing couches to chill out on, and of course the oxygen bar.

What Was It Like?

Hanging out in the Trident Vitality Lounge was a very interesting and thought-provoking experience, so I dug a little deeper to find out more about oxygen bars and how they might impact our concert experiences, and if they really do have any medical benefits.

Did Trident Pass The Test?

And in this post we’ll also continue our experiments with brands who do or don’t engage concert fans.

That said, the minute I saw the booth at Pitchfork I was instantly curious to see if Trident was pushing the boundaries as a brand by making the concert experience more sensual and interactive for concert fans. And we’ll share our thoughts on that too.

What About Oxygen Bars?

First, let’s check out some info about medical benefits of oxygen bars.

According to this Askmen article, oxygen bars provide minimal benefits for fans and could actually do harm in some cases. The article does a solid job of explaining the facts and truth about oxygen bars and they sum it up by saying:

So the bottom line, according to the scientific data out there, is that though 20 minutes of pure oxygen isn’t likely to cause major damage, it won’t provide much good either. If anything, it will expose you to needless risks.

Oxygen bars have been around for awhile, so I took a look back in time to a 1997 CNN Health article that talks about the rise of oxygen bars and the growing trend of athletes using them and oxygen-enhanced bottled water.

The CNN article didn’t say anything about artists or fans using oxygen during a concert but imagine the effects would be the same.

You can learn more about the the company that makes the oxygen bars used at Pitchfork here, and read more about the history of oxygen bars here.

So Is Trident Pushing Boundaries?

Though it was a fun experience to try out the oxygen bar at Pitchfork, I don’t think Trident was exploring any new territory. And it didn’t help that the ladies working the booth didn’t know a whole bunch about the oxygen bars or the effects of them concert fans.

Yes, it was a nice thing to provide fans a place to relax and re-energize, but it would’ve been even better if Trident made a more personal connection between the live music experience and the Vitality Lounge.

And that’s one of the reasons why I asked Christia if she would have liked to try the oxygen bar out while she watched Battles play. By asking her that I was exploring the idea of Trident’s Vitality Lounge going beyond just being a service booth and evolving into a fully interactive concert experience that fans would appreciate and enjoy.

And that’s were Trident’s Vitality Lounge and most brand’s festival booths fall short. They either don’t make a lasting physical connection or they don’t focus too much on telling just the brand’s story, and not enough on telling or weaving in the fan story.

And that’s unfortunate because I chewed Trident’s Vitality gum all weekend long and loved it, just like Tune-Yards and TV on the Radio’s set.

But I can’t say the same for 5 Gum, which unfortunately loses it’s flavor pretty fast, like far too many of the sets at Pitchfork did this year.

It was also pretty annoying to keep getting asked by the AXE girls each time I passed by their big “Even Angels Will Fall” tent. It was funny though to see other Pitchfork fans playing games and using the Axe mini pump spray bottle to spray each other so many times that they reeked of AXE.

Why Don’t Brands Go Further?

But again, Trident, AXE and most brands I’ve seen at festivals unfortunately don’t make that personal connection. They don’t innovate in ways that matter emotionally. And they don’t make what their giving you — gum or deodorant samples — unique in any way.

Heck, it would’ve been interesting to see Trident or AXE create samples that had a unique Pitchfork logo or something that was sort of commemorative.

The One Thing Everyone Wants To Know

The last question, I’m still wondering about is whether or not fans who stopped by the Trident Vitality Lounge associated their memorable Pitchfork experience with their time in the Lounge?

And of course, the answer to that question is the ROI (Return On Investment) of why most brands spend the money to go to festivals.

And as it’s why, as Ad Age points out, Trident has a couple key objectives with their Vitality gum.

Also, the pellet-size gum, which comes in a box that “clicks” when opened or closed, is aimed at a slightly older demographic than 5, with the targeted audience being people in their 20s and 30s who are into wellness.

The message will focus “more on the experience associated with the gum,” said Mr. Maglaris, emphasizing that only one variety has the vitamin.

But will that experience be memorable for concert fans? Right now it’s not.

But it could have been if Trident, and AXE, focused more on telling a story and making a stronger emotional connection between their product and the concert fan experience.

There were over 18,000 concert fan stories that happened at Pitchfork 2011 and I didn’t see any brands making the most of the opportunity to connect their successful products in any memorable way.

Like I said, I love the Tune-Yards and TVOTR set, but when it comes down to it, I don’t associate my favorite Pitchfork musical experiences with Trident. The only connection that was memorable for me and Trident was talking with those two fans.  Beyond that what I was chewing was just something to keep my breath from smelling.

But enough about our experiences…

Were You There?

Were you at the Pitchfork Music festival to check out the Trident Vitality Lounge? We invite you to share your concert experiences in the comments below, so they can be included in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Concert Review: Was Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 A Success?

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tv on the radio Pitchfork festival 2011

Another Pitchfork Music Festival is in the books. So how did it stack up against previous years? Well, not so good, actually. It was an unbalanced mix of downers and highlights and we were there to cover it all.

Before we start sharing the fan stories from this year’s festival, here’s the full review that I wrote for published as Blogcritics.

As we shared with you in the preview, Pitchfork President Chris Kaskie was excited about this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival because it showcased the most diverse lineup to date. Unfortunately, when it was all said and done, the lineup’s diversity didn’t keep it from being an overall lackluster musical experience.

So why was the festival such a downer this year? Well, as I looked back on the weekend I realized the letdown stemmed from a few major things.

For starters, I tell you that one of the reasons I go to Pitchfork Music Festival is to experience emerging music, and to see if the buzz-bands that Pitchfork champions on their website are as good live as they are on record, which is always the true test of a great band.

That said, in the previous five years that I’ve gone to Pitchfork, the ratio of blah buzz bands to worthy buzz bands has always been less blah and more worthy. But this year, that ratio was other way around and there was a lot of mediocre sets to sit through.

The Hard Truth About Most Pitchfork Bands

And as the weekend rolled on, one thing became very obvious: playing live and doing it well is one of the hardest things a band (new or veteran) will ever attempt to do. And the fact is that some bands either have what it takes and they are instantly awesome live, while other bands take months or even years to develop their live show into an experience that demands our attention.

And historically, most Pitchfork bands are emerging bands that haven’t had a whole lot of live show experience yet, or they’re a band that are just better experienced on record or in a darkened club at night.

Which is why trying to rock a crowd with just a laptop and mic in the middle of the day doesn’t usually translate into a memorable show.

The Bands That Saved Pitchfork Music Festival

So here’s my very short list of three bands that defined my Pitchfork Festival experience and thankfully made me forget about the energy-sucking 98-degree heat: Tune-Yards, DJ Shadow and TV on the Radio. And then I’ll tell you why Odd Future relied way too much on cupcakes and controversy.

I still have visions of Tune-Yards’ set running through my heart and soul. The music that Merrill Garbus conjures on stage with her backing band is so sweet, seductive and immersing that you can’t help but be instantly pulled into her sonic portraits of love, joy, pleasure and pain.

Under the canopy of trees at the Blue Stage, Garbus came out for a quick sound check to tweak her snare drum, then came back with her band to dazzle us with deft live looping, masterful percussion work, and crooning that somehow simultaneously channels Prince, Sam Cooke and Captain Beefheart.

Start to finish, she sent surges and throbs through the communal heart and mind of the crowd. Fan faces flashed grins of pleasure, bodies swayed, shoulders and heads kicked back in oblivion. It was all proof that Garbus’ emotive incantations and beautiful afro-pop-meets-indie-rock-meets-soul ballads “Powa” and “Bizness” had us all in the palm of her hand tugging full force on our heart strings.

Next on my “Best of” list was Josh Davis (aka DJ Shadow). He started his Saturday night set with a gracious hello to fans and then set up shop inside in a giant rotating ball that was illuminated by two projectors on either side. Before he started, Davis admitted that it was a bit too light out still to really see the stunning visual spectacle he’s created for us.

I instantly agreed with him and started wishing that I could pull down the setting sun faster so I could enjoy the cinematic visuals along with Shadow’s masterful set mix of songs from his classic albums and new tracks from the forthcoming The Less You Know, The Better.

Knowing that he couldn’t overcome the sunlight, he eventually spun the ball around and continued playing so we could all watch him work his magic. As the creator of Endtroducing and other instrumental hip hop masterpieces, Davis is a true pioneer and legendary live performer and he deserved a better showing than this.

In hindsight, I’m not sure of the logistical decisions that might have caused Pitchfork to close with Fleet Foxes when DJ Shadow would’ve been a much better closer on Saturday night. Heck, DJ Shadow would’ve also been better than Friday night headliners Animal Collective, who unfortunately got invited back for a second time at Pitchfork to perform another scattered and snooze-inducing 60 minutes of live semi-melodic electro-muzak.

Animal Collective is definitely the poster child for bands that are releasing solid albums, but not delivering the same goods live. I’m still not sure why Pitchfork thinks that Animal Collective is worthy of being a headliner.

On record and even more so live, TV on the Radio is a palpable force of post-punk, rock and jazz to be reckoned with. And as they took us to the Pitchfork finale on Sunday night, I thought about how it’s been an emotional year for them too.

Earlier this year they announced that bassist Gerard Smith was battling lung cancer, and shortly after the band released their new album, Nine Types of Light, Smith lost his fight. TVOTR then took a short break from touring and then returned to the road.

And as they burned their way deeper into our hearts and minds I got the feeling that they were profoundly channeling their loss, grief, and mourning into the music. It was a non-stop emotional crescendo as the NY-based quintet brought Pitchfork to a glorious end with a revitalizing and fist-pumping cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room,” the always epic ballad “Young Liars,” and new gems “Repetition” and “No Future Shock.”

Cupcakes and Controversy

Odd Future Pitchfork 2011

Okay, now let’s wrap up this review and talk about cupcakes and controversy. In our Pitchfork Festival preview, I listed the controversial hip hop crew Odd Future as a top pick because they’ve been causing a raucous on the touring circuit, garnering praise in the minds of the young-folk, and receiving a host of mixed reviews from haters, doubters and championing critics. But for me, the jury was still out on whether or not these guys were worthy of all the attention they’ve been getting the New York Times and Pitchfork themselves.

Before their set, Odd Future brought cupcakes to the booth of the anti-violence group who was protesting their Pitchfork appearance. But that was the end of the Southern Cali hip-hop collective’s niceness.

Led by front-man and twenty-year-old rapper Tyler, The Creator, who was in crutches nursing a broken leg, Odd Future swaggered on stage flashing mischievous grins as Bob Marley’s “One Love” blasted from the speakers (another playful poke at the negative press they’ve been getting.)

But the love ended quickly and a current of nasty and ridiculous rhymes seething with stories of misogyny, rape, violence and juvenile deviance poured forth. Fans moshed and crowd-surfed, while others mouthed every lyric and bobbed their heads to every beat. And then there was another section of fans that just looked at the whole scene in complete confusion and utter disgust.

After experiencing Odd Future live for myself and talking with both supporting and skeptical fans, two things became very clear: 1) Odd Future is really nothing new, and 2) they really have nothing new to say. Eminem, D12 and other shock-rap and horror-rock groups have done this thing before, and they done it a whole lot better and more creatively for many years.

And when I look back at it, Odd Future’s live show amounted to nothing more than a mix of aimless punk rock stage-diving, pointless mic-stand-crushing antics and cliche call-and-response gimmicks.

In the end, the set left me empty and a bit sad too because judging by the electric and emotive response from several crowd-surfing and engaged fans during the show, Odd Future has clearly struck an emotional chord on some level with fans who identify with their music and goofy-meets-nihilistic message.

But Tyler and company don’t appear to have any plans to truly deliver a real message to their fans besides the lame anthem “Kill People, Burn Sh#t and F#ck School.” And worst of all, there’s little, if any, originality or relevancy to what they’re doing.

Believe me, I don’t like writing bad reviews about any band, especially hip hop groups, because I love hip hop. And I believe, as a genre and an revolutionary art form, hip hop has so much power and possibility to change lives and the world. And when I listen to Tyler, The Creator’s sophomore album Goblin, I hear a lot of promise and possibility trying to come out.

I hear a voice that could say something. I hear a voice that could tell a very important story to an emerging generation that wants their story told. But right now all I hear for the most part is just a mish-mosh of repetitive, trite, predictable and misogynistic lyrics.

And in tracks like “Goblin” and “Radical” Tyler makes it very clear that he doesn’t want to be a role model or an inspiration to his fans. And I think that’s a big cop-out. And by doing so he’s selling his fans short when he takes that easy Charles Barkley route. Again, it’s not the offensive content that urks me about Odd Future, it’s the lack of creativity and uniqueness in the storytelling.

Tyler’s tales start out interesting and bold but they quickly unravel because he doesn’t deliver or serve up any fresh creative spins or convince me that his take on a tired topic is truly unique.

Okay, that’s all I have to say about Odd Future for now. And I hope that next year, my and my fellow music writers will have more to write about than the fact that Odd Future handed out cupcakes and didn’t live up to all the hype.

What Should Happen Next Year?

In the end, I have no doubts that Pitchfork has got the logistical and pricing parts of the Festival down to a successful science. And they definitely know how to take care of fan’s physical needs as they gave out over 13,000 free bottles of water each day. And they also released one of the best music festival iPhone mobile apps I’ve ever used. I just hope that Pitchfork takes a longer look at the lineup for next year so they can give us a more inspiring and memorable musical experience.

For more Pitchfork coverage check out our review of Day One and Day Two.

Were You There?

Were you at the Pitchfork Music festival? We invite you to share your concert experiences in the comments below, so they can be included in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Pitchfork Festival Day Two (In Photos): DJ Shadow, Fleet Foxes, No Age, Woods

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Editorial Note: Article first published as Pitchfork Festival 2011 Day Two: Fleet Foxes, DJ Shadow, No Age Rock the Masses on Blogcritics.

From the first chest-rattling and thumping beats to the constant wave of crowd-surfers floating above the heads of their fellow concertgoers, it was obvious during Pitchfork Festival Day 2 that live music is a life-altering drug.

And when Saturday’s festivities officially sold out, Union Park was packed with fans who chilled-out on the lawn, danced blissfully into oblivion and experienced the raw emotional power of being captivated and swept up in the rock and fury of DJ Shadow, No Age, Woods, Crissy Murderbot and MC Zulu, Fleet Foxes, Radio Department.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s how it all went down as captured in photos and (a few) words.

What better than to start Saturday off with a fine mix of glitchy jungle beats of via Crissy Murderbot and the righteous dancehall call-and-responses of MC Zulu. Oh, and those plastic lip-shaped whistles were a very nice touch too.

 DJ Shadow Pitchfork Festival 2011

Josh Davis (aka DJ Shadow) says hello to fans and then sets up shop inside in a giant rotating ball that’s illuminated by two projectors on either side. Before he starts, Davis admits that it’s a bit to light out still to really see the stunning visual spectacle he’s created for us. I instantly again with him and start wishing that I could pull down the setting sun faster so I can enjoy the cinematic visuals along with Shadow’s deft set, a mix of his classic albums and new tracks from the forthcoming The Less You Know, The Better. Knowing that he can’t overcome the sunlight, he eventually spins the ball around to continue playing so we can all watch him work his magic.

Pitchfork music festival 2011

New York-based Woods starts out slow under the hot and heavy afternoon sun. Then they pick up speed taking us through a trippy adventure of experimental jams and other freaky, spooky and darker melodic joy-rides.

The Radio Department walks onto the Blue Stage flashing confident smiles and utters a brief “hello.” From there it’s all business and pleasure for the rock quartet as they roll through a snythy, slow-purring and glimmering set of melodic, mello and chillaxed tunes. Just what we needed on day such as this.

No Age’s formula is simple and very effective. Play hard, fast and loud. That’s what the fans want and that’s what the art-punk Los Angeles duo deliver for 45 minutes. Crowd-surfing. Sweat dripping from all pores. Faces filled with ecstasy.

pitchfork music festival fleet foxes

Coming back to Pitchfork for the second time, but now as the Saturday night headliner, Pacific Northwest indie-folkers Fleet Foxes glide into the moment cautiously gradually feeling out their songs and the crowd vibe. It was a solid set that had it’s harmonic flashes and flourishes.

But eventually I wish that one of two things would’ve happened instead. 1) Fleet Foxes switch headlining spots with DJ Shadow so we can get the full effect his illuminated projection ball and close the night with a bit more party-friendly thumps and rumble. Or 2) have a DJ Shadow vs. Fleet Foxes live mashup between the two stages. Pitchfork is an experimental and cutting-edge festival when it comes to the music, and I think they could experiment more with the performance options and try to make something like this happen next year.

Next Up for Day Three:

TV on the Radio, Odd Future, Toro Y Moi, and more. And who knows, maybe some we will see some stage-to-stage mashups?

If you’re looking for a great mobile guide to the festival, be sure to download the Pitchfork iPhone app. It rocked and it’s one of the best festival apps I’ve ever used!

Stay Tuned for More Pitchfork Fan Stories

We had the pleasure of talking with a lot of fans today, so stay tuned for more of their stories and experiences coming up this week.

Were you at Pitchfork yesterday? We invite you to share your Pitchfork concert experiences in the comments below, so they can be included in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Pitchfork Festival Day One: Tune-Yards, Animal Collective and Harry Potter

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Editorial Note: article first published as Music Review: Pitchfork Festival 2011 Day One – Righteous Tune-Yards, Animal Collective Deja-snoozes and Harry Potter Shout-outs on Blogcritics.

The first day of Pitchfork Festival 2011 might not have sold out with only 18,000 fans piling in to Union Park, a place that can hold around 20,000. But nonetheless the eager fans that did show up were treated to a worthy feast of indie rock, rap and electro-pop. Of the 11 eleven bands that played on three stages, those few bands that I expected to bring the goods did, for the most part. But there were a few that slowly evaporated like mist in the heat of the summer sun ultimately leaving me wanting more.

That said, when it was all said and done, these are the performances and fan moments that defined Day One.

Tune-Yards Plays with Pure Powa

First: the visions of Tune-Yards’ set. The music that Merrill Garbus conjures on stage with her backing band is so sweet, seductive and immersing that you can’t help but be instantly pulled into her sonic portraits of love, joy, pleasure and pain. Under the canopy of trees at the Blue Stage, Garbus came out for a quick sound check to tweak her snare drum them came back with her band to dazzle us with deft live looping, masterful percussion work, and crooning that somehow simultaneously channels Prince, Sam Cook and Captain Beefheart.

Start to finish, she sent surges and throbs through the communal heart and mind of the crowd. Fan faces flashed grins of pleasure, bodies swayed, shoulders and heads kicked back in oblivion. It was all proof that Garbus’ emotive incantations and beautiful afro-pop-meets-indie-rock-meets-soul ballads “Powa” and “Bizness” had us all in the palm of her hand tugging full force on our heart strings.

Then I voyaged over to the Green Stage to see what prog-rockers Battles was up to. But to my dismay, they were subpar and lacked the same driving power and tenacity that they unleashed during their 2008 Pitchfork set. Maybe it was the sound or where I was standing? Sound issues or not, a good band should be able to make you feel at least something with their set, no matter where you’re at or what technical problems they’re having. And I’m sorry to say that I left Battles after a few songs feeling nothing, and headed elsewhere to explore the grounds, chat with other fans and see what else was going on.

A Harry Potter Shout Out

Then a hour later, back at the Blue stage, an unexpected shout-out to Harry Potter erupted from the crowd as fans waited for hip hop jester trio Das Racist to start. One mischievous, albeit timely fan, led the charge screaming “I say Harry, you say Potter!” and all the other fans followed suit laughing as we all shouted back and forth.

As you see in the video above, the wizard-inspired call-and-response quickly morphed into a rowdy chant for water, and seemingly out of nowhere a security guard appeared in the pit and began handing out free bottles of water to the pinked-faced, mildly dehydrated and sweat-drenched fans in the front row.

Shortly after this strange series of events, Das Racist swaggered on the stage and sloshed their way through a zany set of songs filled with sly, semi-intelligent, joke-filled rhymes about money, race and wild parties from their forthcoming debut album Relax.

Deja-snoozing with Animal Collective

Wrapping the night up was electro-jam-rockers Animal Collective. And boy was it an odd a case of deja-snooze as I was shot back to 2009 when Animal Collective closed out Saturday night with a no-direction and overly insular set of synthy jams and mis-directed psychedelic ravy lightshow. So yet again, even though they are pretty amazing on album but not so good live, Animal Collective was given the honor of closing out the day.

And as I headed home I thought it would have been so much better to experience Tune-Yards taking us to the end of an otherwise solid start to the festivities.

Next Up for Day Two?

Fleet Foxes, DJ Shadow and who knows, maybe some more Harry Potter shout-outs? And if you’re looking for a great mobile guide to the festival, be sure to download the Pitchfork iPhone app. It rocked. And it’s one of the best festival apps I’ve ever used!

Were You There?

Were you at Pitchfork? We invite you to share your Pitchfork concert experiences in the comments below, so they can be included in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Top 5 Concert Fan Expectations, Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 Preview

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What do you expect to feel and experience at a concert? During this episode of Live Fix Radio we’ll answer that question as we explore the Top 5 Expectations of the live music xperience.

It’s also time for Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 this weekend in Chicago, so we’ll share our own high expectations, Top Picks and some cool new tunes from Pitchfork performing artists to get you ready for the show.

Subscribe via iTunes.

 

Show Notes:

 

Music from the podcast (all album links via iTunes)

“Powa” – Tune-Yards, Whokill (intro music and then we play the full song at the end of the show)

“Expectations” – Belle & Sebastian, Tigermilk

“Second Song” – TV On the Radio, Nine Types of Light

 

Live music news
During the live music news segment, we talked about Coheed and Cambria bassist Mike Todd and his pre-show pharmacy robbert, Dave Grohl’s reprimanding of a fan during iTunes Festival, How Lady Gaga saved HBO ratings, and you can read more about these stories in live concert news.

 

How to use Layar mobile app at Pitchfork

Continuing our exploration of mobile apps, we also shared info about our experiment with Layar Augmented Reality mobile app at Pitchfork last year. And stay tuned for more as we take this very cool mobile app for another spin during the show this weekend.

 

Step Up To The Mic

What do you think about concert fan expectations? Heading to Pitchfork? Got a question about something we talked about during the show? We invite you to share your concert experiences and thoughts about this podcast in the comments below, so they can be included in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Concert Preview: What Makes Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 Fan-centric and Unique?

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pitchfork festival 2011

 

One of the highlights of our summer music festival adventures is heading out to discover new bands and and hang out with fellow live music fans at Pitchfork Music Festival. So to get you ready for the show, here’s a preview I wrote for Blogcritics, plus a few extra goodies.

And be sure to stay tuned for a special bonus episode of Live Fix Radio as we explore Pitchfork past and present, share some music and examine the impact of concert fan expectations.

Editorial Note: Article first published as Concert Preview: Pitchfork Music Festival 2011 on Blogcritics.

Tomorrow Pitchfork Music Festival will once again rock Union Park in Chicago for the 6th straight year. Growing from an upstart hipster-friendly e-zine in the late nineties, Pitchfork has expanded its online taste-making influence into a successful destination summer music festival that has not only become the measuring stick for showcasing emerging independent music, but also served as the right of passage to the mainstream, as many acts that have played Pitchfork have gone on to play in front of thousands of fans at Lollapalooza the following year.

And this year Pitchfork boasts the most diverse and controversial lineup yet. To explain the back story and inspiration behind the 3-day celebration of taste-making mix of indie-rock, rap, electronic and pop music, we spoke with Pitchfork President Chris Kaskie to get his take on what’s most important to him and how they’ve been able to make the festival one of the most unique, community-based and fan-centric live music experiences around.

Q&A with Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork

LF: You guys have been putting on the festival since 2006. What do you guys love the most about putting it together. What are you most excited about this year?

CK: We’re excited about this year because it’s the most unique lineup we’ve ever had. There’s not one band on the bill that my mom would recognize. And that makes it more exciting than nerve-racking because that speaks to people’s desire to experience music that’s more left-of-center. We enjoyed creating that type of personal festival experience because it’s more like we created it ourselves, which makes it not like another festivals. That type of uniqueness also represents what we are as a magazine and what Pitchfork means to people.

You have experimented with specific features on Friday nights in previous years like bands playing their classic albums and fans picking the set list. But the last two years, and this year, you’ve chosen to just have bands play without any specific theme. Was there a reason behind that?

In past years, we’ve partnered with All Tomorrow’s Parties to celebrate other artists and their albums, but we decided to make the most of the festival time and showcase as many bands as possible, since that’s what we and the fans love and want the most.

What makes the festival unique beyond just the music experience?

Music is the most important thing to us and the next is the cost. We try very hard to keep our tickets affordable. We want to provide the best experience but not gouge fans beyond what is reasonable and the best value. Our goal is that when fans walk into the festival they don’t feel inundated with corporate sponsorship.

We try out best to integrate the sponsorship and keep it low key with the focus on the music. And we want fans to be able to come here and enjoy show without having to worry about buying an $8 bottle of water or a beer that’s too expensive. Celebrating the local artists with Flatstock and inviting arts and crafts groups is also a natural part of the festival. Like the picking the music, having those types of integrated experiences is something we work hard to do too.

We’ve all been to music festivals as fans ourselves and we pay close attention to what we enjoy and to what works. Buy going to festivals as fans you really get a good chance to see how the attendees and fans behave. And by watching them and listening very closely to what Pitchfork fans tell us, we make the necessary changes each year. Overall, we don’t really hear a lot of fans complaining about much, so for the most part, fans won’t notice the changes we make because they’re not that big or noticeable. And that’s part of the plan. We want to keep the experience just the way the fans like it and change the things they don’t.

You guys are expanding with a festival in Paris later this year. Are there plans to expand the Chicago festival next year?

What we’ve created in Chicago is something we love and don’t want to mess with. We wanted to do something international without recreating the Chicago experience so we decided to start a festival in Paris. Pitchfork Music Festival as an overarching entity can mean more than one thing, and whether that means Chicago grows or Paris grows, or it becomes another festival somewhere else. Either way we want to recreate the experiences in a way that people know what the Pitchfork Festivals are and will always be. We really enjoy putting on festivals and we feel that we do a good job. And, in the end, we’re only putting on festivals that we would want to go to.

How have some of your favorite concert experiences influenced the creation and evolution of Pitchfork?

I’ve had a lot of great memories at Pitchfork over the years. But one non-Pitchfork festival memory that I’ll always remember is watching fans freaking out the Primaveria Sound Festival in Barcelona. And besides that moment, I always love watching a band play Pitchfork and seeing them get so excited before, during and after their set. Seeing that all unfold from our perspective is really an awesome feeling.

 

Our Top Picks, Stay Tuned For More…

Over thirty bands will play Pitchfork this year, so here’s a quick rundown of some of our top picks for each day. And stay tuned for more updates during the weekend as we report on all the live music action and then wrap it all up with a full review next week.

Friday Top Picks

4:30 (BLUE) tUnE-yArDs – The music that Merrill Garbus creates with her band TuNeYards evokes a brilliant, seductive and immersing mix of love, joy, pleasure and pain. I love the surges and throbs that are induced as her emotive incantations and beautiful ballads flow through me. And I’m certain her sophomore album Whokill will be on my “Best Of” list in December. And with each passing performance, she’s demonstrating why her gorgeous and cunning blend of afro-pop, soul, funk, experimental rock, and luscious crooning — that somehow simultaneously channels Prince, Sam Cook and Captain Beefheart – is not to be missed live.

4:35 (GREEN) Battles – The stage is still rumbling from the last time Battles righteously prog-rocked the heck out of Pitchfork in 2008. Now it’s time for part deux with new tracks like “Wall Street” via their latest offering Gloss Drop. Cue the thunder. The lightning is about to strike again.

Saturday Top Picks

8:30 (GREEN) Fleet Foxes — Coming back for the second appearance at Pitchfork the Pacific Northwest indie-folk band of has a new batch of songs from Helplessness Blues with which to entrance ears and hearts. Union Park will never be so harmonious and lifted on a warm mid-summer night.

7:25 (RED) DJ Shadow – As one of the masterminds and pioneers of instrumental hip hop, Josh Davis (aka DJ Shadow) brings with him a whole crate of tricks and pleasures. His wizardry of mixing obscure samples and blending unexpected beats into groundbreaking, cinematic sonic portraits will culminate on Saturday evening as he dishes out fresh creations from his forthcoming album The Less You Know, The Better.

Sunday Top Picks

8:30 (GREEN) TV on the Radio – A magnificent melodic melee of palpable post-punk, electro-rock and experimental jazz is what this NY-based band specialty. And when they take the stage you can plan on strange and wondrous things happening all around you when the current of beautiful chaos begins to rush forth from the speakers on Sunday night. And don’t be surprised if you see fans hurled into glorious oblivion as they tear through tracks from their latest gem Nine Types of Light.

3:20 (RED) Odd Future – Expect a live shock-rap therapy session from this Southern Cali hip-hop crew. Led by the infamous rapper Tyler, The Creator, and a series of collective’s viral self-released mixtapes, they’re causing a raucous on the touring circuit, garnering praise in the minds of the young-folk, and receiving a host of mixed reviews from haters, doubters and championing critics. But don’t take their nasty rhymes that are filled with misogyny, rape, violence and juvenile deviance too seriously. They’re only playing a role and having fun mocking and mirroring society. None of it’s real they say. Oh, but we shall see…

Ticket Info: Sunday tickets are officially sold out; and the final batch of tickets for Friday and Saturday can be purchased here.

Watch It Online: Select sets will be available via the Pitchfork webcast.

Download the Pitchfork Mobile App: Yes, 2011 Pitchforkers are mobilized with the official Pitchfork Mobile App (iPhone only. Sorry no Android version this year). The app’s got all the social goodies and slick functionality you’ll need to navigate and keep tabs on the music all weekend. Go get it here.

Download eMusic free Pitchfork sampler.

Heading to the Show?

Heading to Pitchfork this year? Been there before? We invite you to share your Pitchfork concert experiences and in the comments below, so they can be included in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

 

2011 PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL SCHEDULE:

FRIDAY, JULY 15 – gates at 3pm
8:30 (GREEN) Animal Collective
7:30 (BLUE) James Blake
7:20 (RED) Neko Case
6:30 (BLUE) Das Racist
6:25 (GREEN) Guided By Voices
5:30 (BLUE) Curren$y
5:30 (RED) Thurston Moore
4:35 (GREEN) Battles
4:30 (BLUE) tUnE-yArDs
3:30 (RED) EMA
3:20 (BLUE) Gatekeeper

SATURDAY, JULY 16 – gates at 12pm
8:30 (GREEN) Fleet Foxes
7:40 (BLUE) Zola Jesus
7:25 (RED) DJ Shadow
6:45 (BLUE) Twin Shadow
6:15 (GREEN) The Dismemberment Plan
5:45 (BLUE) The Radio Dept.
5:15 (RED) Destroyer
4:45 (BLUE) OFF!
4:15 (GREEN) Gang Gang Dance
3:45 (BLUE) Wild Nothing
3:20 (RED) No Age
2:50 (BLUE) G-Side
2:30 (GREEN) Cold Cave
1:55 (BLUE) Sun Airway
1:45 (RED) Woods
1:00 (BLUE) Chrissy Murderbot Feat MC ZULU
1:00 (GREEN) Julianna Barwick

SUNDAY, JULY 17 – gates at 12pm
8:30 (GREEN) TV on the Radio
7:40 (BLUE) HEALTH
7:25 (RED) Cut Copy
6:45 (BLUE) Toro Y Moi
6:15 (GREEN) Deerhunter
5:45 (BLUE) Kylesa
5:15 (RED) Superchunk
4:45 (BLUE) Baths
4:15 (GREEN) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
3:45 (BLUE) Shabazz Palaces
3:20 (RED) OFWGKTA
2:50 (BLUE) Twin Sister
2:30 (GREEN) Kurt Vile & the Violators
1:55 (BLUE) How to Dress Well
1:45 (RED) Yuck
1:00 (BLUE) Darkstar
1:00 (GREEN) The Fresh & Onlys

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