If you’re an audiophile like myself, you associate summer (and as much of the fall season as you can) with music festival season. There are a few major festivals that might be on your bucket list such as Coachella, Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza. Though these festivals offer a special experience glittering with massive headliners and a lineup poster reminiscent of the Star Wars opening crawl, there can be more to music festivals than that. For those of you who are not keen on spending a weekend racing through a sea of people from one stage to the next and racking in 20+ miles per day on your FitBit, we have the festival for you.
Pitchfork Music Festival takes place every year in Union Park in Chicago. In its 13th year, the festival has a great understanding of what its audience wants and how to organize a nearly flawless weekend of music, food, kids, activations and more. Though the fest is much smaller than it’s neighboring fest–and overall festival veteran–at Grant Park, Lollapalooza, Pitchfork has made a distinct name for itself. With only three stages, a smaller lineup and a killer VIP offering, the festival is more of a weekend getaway than a musical workout. With Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett and Lauryn Hill headlining, there’s even more of a reason to attend. See below for our top five (of many) reasons why to check out Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago this year.
1. Size and Location
Chicago is one of the most culturally diverse cities, filled with a rich history and really, something for everyone. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can find upscale cocktail lounges or dimly lit dive bars. Located in Union Park, Pitchfork Festival is walking distance to a ton of great restaurants, bars and markets. Plus, the festival features only three stages, making it super manageable. There is nothing better than going to a show and being able to watch the actual artist on stage rather than a screen projecting their face over the thousands of people in the audience. Great views and less crowds means there will be no ungodly flood of festival-goers leaving the park after the headliners each day.
Sometimes with concerts or festivals, you splurge for an upgrade so you can enjoy a moment away from the chaos. But, if the festival is large enough, VIP can feel just as cramped as general admission. At Pitchfork, the +PLUS experience offers a true escape from any crowd you might find, with only a limited number of tickets sold. With air conditioned restrooms, elevated culinary offerings and a shaded seating area, it’s everything you want in an upgrade. Plus, you’ll be given a complimentary tote bag with festival accessories, cellphone charging stations and prime viewing platform.
3. Food and Drink
If you’ve never been to Chicago, you’re in for a treat. An actual treat. Because Chicago has some really great food offerings throughout the city. Pitchfork is unique in that they utilize all local restaurants and breweries, creating a community-driven atmosphere before you even arrive at the festival. Incorporating outposts such as The Chicago Diner and Billy Goat Tavern allows you to get a taste of a staple of Chicago from within Union Park and then perhaps try out the full experience at the actual restaurant. This year the food lineup also features Black Dog Gelato, Fat Rice and Wow Bao.
One of the best parts of any festival is the atmosphere. My heart flutters thinking about the overall vibe of a good fest. From people sharing sunscreen to simple high-fives between strangers on their way to opposite stages; festivals breed positivity and glow with a shared love of music between attendees. Depending on a festival’s location and lineup, you might be able to spot some differences in the average age of an audience. At Pitchfork, you’ll find a more mature audience during the day including families with children, making the festival feel safe and comfortable. As the sun lowers, the families will disperse and the park will fill up with an older crowd but nonetheless, there is a respectful vibe throughout the day.
Pitchfork prides itself on expanding your musical catalog by featuring newer artists and some undiscovered bands. As a brand, Pitchfork strives to introduce new artists into the festival scene, along with spotlighting some unexpected headliners. You won’t see the Pitchfork lineup anywhere else; there will be no overlap, which makes it a truly special experience. This year, we’re excited about Japandroids, Ravyn Lenae, Courtney Barnett, Lucy Dacus and of course, Tame Impala.
Main image credit: Dexter Navy