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July 15, 2008
Jon Burke: At last year's Pitchfork Music Festival I witnessed a pack of smelly Trustafarians playing hackysack during Mastadon's set of ear-bleeding metal. Later in the weekend I spotted Prince Paul talking to a vacuous sorority chick who clearly had no idea she was talking to a DJ, much less a music legend. I even saw Jamie Lidell, a thin white dude dressed in a toga and tinsel, perform a world class soul set with little more than a laptop, a mic and a gong. Although only in its third year, the Chicago festival has quickly grown to be one of the preeminent music events of the summer, and each successive year adds more layers of complexity to the proceedings. This year seems to be no different. The 2008 lineup consists of almost every "hot" indie band of the moment: The Ruby Suns, No Age, Titus Andronicus, Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend, HEALTH and Times New Viking - just to name a few. More established acts like Spoon, Ghostface Killah & Raekwon, Spiritualized, Animal Collective and The Hold Steady will also play coveted evening slots to larger crowds and cooler stages. The weekend will open with an awe inspiring group of acts - Public Enemy, Sebadoh and Mission of Burma kick off the festival on Friday night. Considering only the small cross-section of the lineup listed above, the batshit-crazy diversity of the musicians involved, when combined with the excessive number of tickets sold, seems to signal yet another weekend of fun, sun and ridiculousness in Union Park.

Anticipation:
1) Public Enemy - As much of a following as it has, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is still one of the most criminally underappreciated albums of all time. The production by Hank Shocklee and the work of Terminator X on the wheels of steel are only surpassed by Chuck D's indictment of the state of race in America circa 1988. Two decades after the seminal album's release, the group will be performing the entire album during tonight's festival opener. Though the message in the music will likely continue to fall on deaf ears, the album is such a stylistic milestone (combining the best elements of rap, rock and soul) and Chuck's rhymes so densely layered and insightful that it is sure to move the crowd.

2) Titus Andronicus - Combining the drunken swagger of the Sex Pistols with the thunderous musicality of The Clash and a glorious, Pogues-like, trad undercurrent, Titus Andronicus made arguably one of the best albums of 2008. If they are half as good live as their album indicates, their set will be hard to top.

3) People watching - Last year I saw everything from Prince Paul to hordes of douchebags wearing women's jeans. I also bore witness to several thousand of The Windy City's most beautiful ladies with impeccable music taste. It is sure to be another mildly intoxicating weekend of snobby hipsters, sexy audiophiles and musician sightings.

Not So Much:
1) Animal Collective - I know we're all supposed to adore these guys, but after taking in their set a year ago I was completely unimpressed. As we shuffled out of the ballroom afterward the crowd could be heard collectively ranting and raving about how amazing the set had been, leaving me little reason to hold out hope that the set I saw was a fluke. A group of dudes with little to no vocal talent, playing groove boxes and having ZERO stage presence does not a good show make. I am certain that Pitchfork's impressionable readers will, like last year, eat up Animal Collective's Saturday set, and in the event the group proves me wrong with a dazzling performance rest assured that I will apologize and stand corrected.

2) Unknown Bands - Seriously, who the fuck are some of these bands? The headline acts are mostly show-stoppers, but for a festival with the reputation that Pitchfork has garnered over the last three years one would think that there might be a few more A-List acts than the lineup contains. I look forward to being blown away by some of the lower level players.

3) Inclement Weather - Two years ago the Pitchfork Festival was a test of wills. Sunburns, dehydration and lethargy rolled in on a heat wave that bathed Union Park in temps so high that I was sweating in the shade. Although sweltering, the blazing sun proved to be a catalyst for bands like Art Brut, who seemed to channel the heat into their set and nearly burned down the stage with their fiery performance. This year though precipitation is in the forecast and I am uncertain that rain and thunderstorms will have the same energizing effect. Needless to say, I'm bringing an umbrella.

All of my bitching and moaning aside, the 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival is going to be a unique experience. The caliber of the top bands, the affordable tickets, the gorgeous women and amusing hipsters: all combine for a great experience. If you'll be in Union Park this weekend, come seek us out, LAS will be out in full force the entire weekend. We might even hook you up with some goodies…

See you at the Fest!

-- JB

Public Enemy


Josh Zanger: Like Burke, I really look forward to Pitchfork Fest because it's in my own city of residence and there are a ton of interesting things going, not to mention some killer new music and potent established acts. Unfortunately, this year, though, I'm not as familiar with as many of the participating acts as I have been in the past. Anticipation is a great tool when trying to enjoy two and a half days of live music performances. There are some acts that I'm really excited to see - Extra Golden, Caribou, Ghostface, Boris - but there are seem to be just as many acts that I could die happily without seeing. With so much potential hit-and-miss, this little list of anticipation will serve as my guiding light for the next few days. Maybe it'll help you too.

1) Public Enemy doing It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back - When PE does their thing, I think I'll feel both humored by the yuppie indie rockers trying to pretend like they've been down with PE forever, and hopefully awed by the music history lesson that will be put on as well. But seriously, this album came out in 1988… 20 years later, it's still highly regarded as a monumental hip-hop album.

2) From the photos I've seen taken at Caribou shows, this looks like a potentially intriguing set, mixing together glitchy sampling, live instrumentation, and a non-typical band stage setup. It should be interesting to see how these gents pull it off. Plus Andorra was pretty dang good too.

3) Extra Golden!!! I loved their first album so much. It was just one upbeat benga guitar dance tune after the next. The group's second album, Hera Ma Nono, isn't as good in my opinion, but after letting it grow on me for a while, it does qualify a much closer second. These guys sound awesome, both live and on record. Don't miss this.

4) Bon Iver - I'm ashamed that I haven't heard his newest album yet. I've heard a lot of people talk about how good it is, and how enjoyable he was at SXSW. Although I'd rather go into the performance knowing at least one or two songs, it also might be fun to be totally converted on first impression.

5) Occidental Brothers Dance Band International - I've read this group's name a couple times, but that's about it. The name alone elicits expectations of something exciting and visually/aurally pleasing. I'll make Burke dance too, and there will be pictures.

6) Will Animal Collective disappoint me again? I am up for the challenge. I was at the same show that Burke mentioned and, like him, I was very underwhelmed. I love their music, so hopefully a second chance on their performance will be well warranted.

7) Record fair and Flatstock poster fair. These are always a great respite from the non-stop heat, sun, and music. Flatstock is a good chance to pick up excellent show posters from some amazing artists, and the record fair will feature of ton of great, affordable music from a number of different labels and record shops.

-- JZ
---

The 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival kicks off tomorrow night when the Union Park gates open at 5pm for a three-band set: Public Enemy performing It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Sebadoh performing Bubble and Scrape, and Mission of Burma performing Vs. As of today there are still $30.00 tickets available for Friday only, with Saturday and Sunday having sold out.

SEE ALSO: www.pitchforkmusicfestival.com
SEE ALSO: www.pitchforkmedia.com

--
Josh Zanger and Jon Burke


See other articles by Josh Zanger and Jon Burke.

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