On Wednesday morning, July 15th, after more than three months of preparation for Incase’s activities at the Pitchfork Music Festival, I boarded a flight to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Apart from the Glastonbury & Reading Festivals in the UK, Pitchfork is arguably the most anticipated independent music festival of the summer season. With more than 55,000 attendees across three days, Incase’s sponsorship of the fest gave us the opportunity to work with many of our friends and favorite bands from around the US and Europe. Coming into the festival, our hope was to give fans and performers carrying solutions for their music & technology products; relevant tools they could really use, whether in a van on tour or heading across town to work or school.
With this idea in mind, we positioned four freestanding stations around the festival grounds, using our grabbelton bins to give away roughly 6,000 Slider Cases for iPhone & iPod, (as well as kazoos, rubber balls, and water balloons). Each time Leslie and Hannah (our staffers/Chicago & NYC pals) went around refilling the bins, they found themselves swarmed, knocked over and pushed out of the way as rabid crowds rushed in, hoping to find the exact case(s) they were looking for. The reaction was hilarious, wild fun. In the VIP area we gifted artists specialized product requests like nylon backpacks, skate messenger bags and 2-in-1 Wall & Car Chargers; and at the Pitchfork Recycling Store hustlers won neoprene sleeves and notebook hardshell cases in exchange for turning in plastic bottles, cups and other recyclable goods.
Like the festival itself, our Incase presence and sponsorship approach was relaxed. No lame pitches, no corny outfits or weird hoops to jump through. We put the products out there in an open and organic way, and for three days straight we received beaming smiles and genuine words of thanks in return.
As for the music, the festival’s promoters once again got it all right, excellently pairing established independent artists like Yeasayer, F*cked Up, Beirut, The Thermals, DJ/Rupture and Grizzly Bear with underdogs like Disappears, Waaves (“Psyche!”), The Very Best, and Frightened Rabbit. During Opening Night’s pitch perfect “Write The Night” sets, people went predictably bananas for indie rock legends Built To Spill and Yo La Tengo. BTS’ Doug Martsch (and his beard) has come a long way from his formative years fronting the frenetic Treepeople. Total 90’s nostalgia was in full swing.
Pitchfork’s greatest stroke of genius, however, came in booking hometown heroes The Jesus Lizard. David Yow and company absolutely owned this year’s festival, proving 10-years after their breakup why they remain the most entertaining band of outsiders on earth.
All in all, last weekend’s Pitchfork Music Festival turned out to be a real blog-slog down memory lane. Between all the friends, fans and bands, we must’ve run into two hundred people spanning the last fifteen years of our collective lives. Everywhere we turned it was one wonderful run-in after another, friends, food and weirdness galore.
And last (but definitely not least), I haven’t said anything yet about the night we found ourselves all of a sudden (4:30 AM) at a dance party on the Southside of Chicago with Drill Team’s Brooke Morris and Yeasayer’s Jay Tram. Walking in, we bumped into twin brothers/DJs Greg & Darin Bresnitz from Brooklyn’s Finger On The Pulse. Of course. In unison, they said, “Dude, have you been to the basement yet?” I replied, “No, why?” They replied, again in unison, “Dude, just do it. Go down there right now.”
So we walked downstairs to discover—NO JOKE—full blown, raging cage-match boxing action. I’m talking about rugged, brrrrrrutal, Fight Club-style pummeling…in a cage. Close your eyes. Picture a low ceiling covered in peeling lead paint, cig smoke so hectic you feel like you’re inhaling a thousand dirty mattresses, hundreds of crushed PBR cans, a dim lamp shade made out of a white plastic bucket and a raw 100 watt bulb, more crushed PBR cans, half a dozen crumpled couches and busted chairs, and a cage full of men and women annihilating one another while crazy bad G ‘n’ R and Rage Against The Machine jams blare through a crappy soundsystem…
Basically, I stumbled upon someone’s version of perfection—my version. Chicago + Pitchfork Music Festival + Southside Dance Party + Random Basement Rage Cage = AWESOME.
From the many great performances to the exceptional food vendors, (indeed, everything from the finest gourmet cuisines to the whackest, most delicious death lards), to the speakeasy run by the karaoke singing, WWII vet/bartender (what? yeah), to the $19.99 blowup pools and Scarface & Tweedy Bird beach towels to just the city itself—Chicago is a fantastic town full of interesting history, beautiful neighborhoods and smart, funny people.
Chicago thanks for showing us a supremely good time. We’ll see you at the Pitchfork Music Festival again next year.
We added some photos from San Francisco to the Bicycle Film Festival set on Flickr.
BFF is visiting Portland this weekend. Make sure to see some of the movies that are being shown. Specially the portrait of the legendary Italian Frame Builder Giovanni Pelizzoli aka “Ciocc”. Amazing film.
Some photos by Amelia Shaw from last week’s Bicycle Film Festival in New York.
Issue no 51 of Arkitip features Shepard Fairey. Incase designed a custom box for this issue.
Thrasher Magazine organized the last ever Wallenberg contest last weekend. I got there a little bit late, so was unable to get a good spot up front. I still shot a few photos. And good thing Thrasher posted a video with all the action. Lizard King is my new favorite skater.