Pitchfork Music Festival 2010 | You Can Go Back Home
Here’s the news: Chicago can be expensive. It can also be not-so expensive and still above excellent, if you’re willing to get out of your hotel, look around and avoid the obvious spots. It also helps if you’re not a total douchebag: if you’ve ever heard anyone rave about going to Pizza Rio Uno (it’s all about Lou Malnati’s) and, in the same breath, bitch about how much they hated the public transportation they had to take to get there, you know the kind of people I’m talking about. Ignore everything they tell you about their “trip to the city.”
I lived in Chicago for several years, as an “itinerant poet” and musician. I know my way around. I don’t usually care for music festivals (I’ve never been to Lollapalooza, for example), but when Pavement was announced as the headliner the Pitchfork Music Festival, I knew a pilgrimage was in order. Now, it’s been three years since I moved out of the city; three years since I last attended Pitchfork. This time, my girlfriend (who I met in Chicago) and I stayed way out on the northwest side of the city, close to O’Hare, right off the CTA Blue Line. And loved it. Now, Pitchfork was not always our first priority, but we feel like we covered our bases pretty well.
So, in the spirit of giving, I offer this rundown of our weekend back home, complete with links to places you want to visit, food you want to eat, and set reviews for every act we caught at the Pitchfork Music Festival this past weekend…
We found probably the only hotel in the O’Hare area with free Wi-Fi and free parking, and thanks to my diligence, we scored a bunch of other deals (like free CTA day passes) at the Holiday Inn off North Cumberland Ave., across the street from the CTA Blue Line (note: this is blocks away from where one John Wayne Gacy had his infamous residence; it’s been torn down and re-numbered, but it’s easy enough to find. Also nearby is the Northwood Lounge, a bar where Gacy used to drink with a unique décor—and cheap drinks).
We headed straight into the city, lucky enough to find a seat on the train during rush hour, which is always great people watching, especially taking note of people who don’t have their train legs. We got to Union Park, and just missed Wyatt Cenac performing on the Balance stage, the Festival’s last addition to the bill. We got an earful of Robyn, rockin’ the Swede pop like it was a dusty Stockholm on the main Aluminum Stage. But it wasn’t, and while she did her thing, we found sustenance. And what we had to eat turned out to be, for us, one of the stars of the festival: chicken dumplings. Or, as I wrote in my post-pot sticker stupor, “dumblings.” Respect = Star of Siam.
Then it was guitar time with Broken Social Scene. Sweet, sweet Canadian rock—a theme to be re-visited the next day. BSS broke out a solid mix of old & new, with cellist Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) and violinist Susan Voelz, both of Chicago, sitting in. Also sitting in was the mighty John McEntire, who produced their new Forgiveness Rock Record at his Soma Electronic Music Studios. Definitely a quality set, highlighted by “Stars and Sons” and “Cause=Time” off 2002’s You Forgot It In People.
Then we had to hustle to catch Eugene Mirman back at the Balance Stage, which was well worth the effort. Despite the fact that he felt like he was battling a “rock n’ roll spaceship” for much of his set, he killed. From Jewish board games to “grammatically ambiguous protest signs”, he managed to cram a lot of funny into a short set under distracting circumstances. Two of the best bits involved a “What I Like About You” cover/homage to Joe Piscopo, and the slogan, “Religion: it’s not a leap of faith, it’s high-functioning autism!”. Mirman was well worth missing the end of BSS’s set.
Modest Mouse was the headliner Friday, and while I’ve seen them seven or eight times now since 1997, my girlfriend had never seen them. It was probably the most polished I’ve heard them play, and I have to say I particularly loved the two-drummer line-up. They opened with “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and “Here It Comes”, which I found to be a nice surprise. While being more of a fan of their back catalog, I would have liked to see more of the old stuff (my personal favorite of this set was a gorgeous version of “Dramamine” into “Life Like Weeds”). The encores, “Gravity Rides Everything” and “Black Cadillac”, were an excellent close to Friday.
After the festival, we headed up north to Logan Square, where I discovered two old friends of ours are now roommates, and live across the alley from one of my old band’s practice spaces, circa 2006. O nostalgia! Their place is also near one of my favorite bars in Chicago: small Bar. While the kitchen was closed, this location is my favorite of the three for the atmosphere and the jukebox. And it’s just a couple blocks off the Belmont Blue Line stop…
A post by – rccola3