July 17-19 / Union Park, Chicago / Single Day Tickets ($65) Available here
Back in February, we shared the lineup for the tenth annual installment of Pitchfork Music Festival. The lineup reveal is a celebrated occasion here at Needle & Thread, and it once again didn’t disappoint. Every year, Pitchfork Fest brings some of the best up-and-coming independent artists to Chicago’s Union Park for three days of pure music festival heaven. Below, we take a look at what makes Pitchfork the best music festival, year in and year out, with 2015 being no exception to the rule.
NUMBER TEN: THE PRICE
At only $180 for a three-day festival pass, and $65 per day, Pitchfork Music Festival isn’t quite the most bang for your buck (see: Milwaukee’s grueling Summerfest), but it certainly is the best. In recent memory, P4K has brought LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, Grimes, A$AP Rocky, Feist, Kendrick Lamar, Björk, Belle & Sebastian, Neutral Milk Hotel, Beck, Beach House, Toro Y Moi, Solange, Real Estate and a swarm of other artists who have gone on to be some of indie music’s brightest stars.The price isn’t bad compared to other Chicago fests which can cost up to $400, or the other giant festivals that can sometimes run you upwards of a few thousand bucks. This year’s lineup is just as good as any year in its history, but we’ll touch on that later.
Three-day passes are sold out, but single day tickets are still available here.
NUMBER NINE: THE FREE STUFF
Yes, that’s right, tons of corporate partners are there to make sure you have a great time. H&M was on the grounds in 2013 to provide a lounge area that had plenty of photobooths, air conditioning, mirrors for touch-ups, suntan lotion, and comfortable couches. Last year, we helped ourselves to more lounge space provided by Chipotle, free refreshments from Kafir, and quick fill-ups from KIND Bars.
This year features sponsorships from TopMan, Ray-Ban (who in the past has offered free haircuts), Vans, Whole Foods, Perrier and Vita Coco, among others. Pitchfork Music Festival never crosses that line of overly-sponsored, and the partnerships help keep festival costs low for fans. Trust us, take advantage of all the free stuff you can.
NUMBER EIGHT: THE AMENITIES
Nothing is worse than going to a festival and being stuck with a phone with a dead battery by 4pm, and having to vacate your bladder in a disgusting Port-o-Potty after waiting for a half hour and missing that undercard artist everyone was talking about last night.
Pitchfork offers lockers available for rent at a reasonable price, which each feature outlets for plugging in your phone and protection from any of mother nature’s unplanned mishaps. There’s also plenty of Port-o-Potties to utilize, and if you’re sharp enough, you’ll use the first half hour of the fest to find the hidden ones, which rarely house any long lines.
NUMBER SEVEN: THE PEOPLE
Look at this guy. Look at how fucking happy he is. Front row for Sharon Van Etten last year, I couldn’t resist this guy’s smiling face.
You’ll find thousands of other people just like him every year at Pitchfork, primarily there for the musical events and to interact with the other thousands of people there for the same reason. I fucking love that guy in that picture and I’ve never met him. Shout out to that guy.
Shout out to the festival security too. Obviously there to make sure everyone is safely having a great time, I’ve never once heard a story of anyone being treated unfairly by a security guard at Pitchfork. In fact, just the opposite: the last two years that I’ve been to Pitchfork Fest, on dozens of occasions during the extremely hot days I can recall seeing members of the security handing out bottles of water. For free.
Be nice to those security guards and it’ll pay off in your favor.
NUMBER SIX: THE BEVERAGES
Local Chicago brewery Goose Island makes some damn good beer and are the chief beer sponsor for Pitchfork Music Festival. My recommendations: 312 Wheat for those that enjoy a lighter beer; 312 Green Line for a lighter IPA taste, and check out the smaller batch brews like the Sophie, Matilda (my personal favorite), and the hourly specials that are ONLY OFFERED THAT HOUR. Seriously, Pitchfork is heaven for beer and music lovers like myself.
Insider’s Tip: Just a heads up that you’ll need to purchase tickets to get beer. Separate lines for the Beverage Tickets seems like a hassle, but it keeps the lines moving much quicker than other fests. Don’t forget to tip too, once again, it’ll pay off in your favor.
NUMBER FIVE: THE FOOD
And you thought the beer was good? Try the food from the dozens of local restaurants, brewpubs, and grocers. One-third of these offer food for people with special dietary restrictions, from gluten-free to vegan.
My favorites? I thought you’d never ask: Chicago Diner for vegan goods, Chubby Wieners for the exact opposite, Porkchop or Wishbone for some BBQ, and newcomer Firecakes are looking like a must-visit for my sweet tooth. The best part is that you won’t break your wallet by visiting the food lines, most dishes cost under $10, and they’ll fill you up in case you’ve had too much *Reason Number Six*.
NUMBER FOUR: THE SHOPPING
I know what you’re thinking: “The shopping?! This is a music festival!”
Ye have little faith. Pitchfork can be a dangerous money pit if you’re a collector of vinyl, books, crafts or show posters. The festival offers a strip of the grounds dedicated to supporting local vendors, via the Chirp! Record Fair, Book Fort, Coterie Chicago Craft Fair, and my personal favorite/demise, Flatstock, which gives dummies like me the opportunity to shell out hard-earned money to concert poster artists for beautiful concert art.
But really, all of these are great causes: you’re giving your money directly to the people who deserve it, whether it’s the local record stores, local artists, and/or communities.
NUMBER THREE: THE GROUNDS
Union Park is absolutely remarkable. Its reasonable size for the three stages are absolutely perfect, saving you plenty of time (and foot aches) if you need to get from stage-to-stage to see your favorite bands. I’ve been stunned for the past three years as I’ve been able to get from the Red Stage to the Blue in no more than 5 minutes every time I’ve needed to… Five minutes. That’s imperative for some of the conflicts that can arise from a festival packed with so many glorious musical acts like this year’s lineup.
Another impeccable feat is how good the grounds look, day after day. Marvel on Saturday afternoon how great the grounds looked, after thousands of dads have dumped their beer cups on the ground during Wilco on Friday night.
NUMBER TWO: THE FASHION
Pitchfork Music Festival draws dozens of brands and fashion bloggers to capture some amazing acts of sartorial greatness. Blogs like Racked and Nylon and brands such as Free People and H&M stop innocent hipsters for momentary glory as they snap their picture. Leave your neon tanks and too-short shorts at home, people come to P4K dressed to impress.
This year, add Needle & Thread to that list of sartorial cameras. We’ll be snapping photos of some of our favorite looks from the festival. Stay tuned to our Instagram for daily updates!
NUMBER ONE: THE MUSIC
Duh. The music has to be number one at a music festival. As I stated before, the best part about Pitchfork is that the vast majority of the crowd are there for the music. We posted the schedule last week, but here’s another look, with our game plan highlighted in bold. You’ll note, that occasionally, we run in to some conflicts, with some amazing sets just 10-15 minutes apart from each other. That’s where we’ll be utilizing the relatively small grounds, and praying we don’t get caught in foot traffic.
We’ll also be posting our Top Ten Artists to watch leading up to the festival dates, so check back often for that.
8:30pm – (Green) Wilco
8:15pm – (Blue) Ought
7:20pm – (Red) Chvrches
7:15pm – (Blue) Iceage
6:25pm – (Green) Panda Bear
6:15pm – (Blue) Tobias Jesso Jr.
5:30pm – (Red) Mac DeMarco
5:15pm – (Blue) Steve Gunn
4:35pm – (Green) iLoveMakonnen
4:15pm – (Blue) Jessica Pratt
3:30pm – (Red) Natalie Prass
3:20pm – (Blue) Ryley Walker
8:30pm – (Green) Sleater-Kinney
8:45pm – (Blue) Vic Mensa
7:45pm – (Blue) Sophie
7:25pm – (Red) Future Islands
6:45pm – (Blue) Shamir
6:15pm – (Green) The New Pornographers
5:45pm – (Blue) A$AP Ferg
5:15pm – (Red) Parquet Courts
4:45pm – (Blue) Ariel Pink
4:15pm – (Green) Kurt Vile
3:45pm – (Blue) Vince Staples
3:20pm – (Red) Ex Hex
2:50pm – (Blue) Mr. Twin Sister
2:30pm – (Green) Future Brown
1:55pm – (Blue) Bully
1:45pm – (Red) Protomartyr
1:00pm – (Green) Jimmy Whispers
8:30pm – (Green) Chance The Rapper
7:45pm – (Blue) Todd Terje & The Olsens
7:25pm – (Red) Run The Jewels
6:45pm – (Blue) A. G. Cook
6:15pm – (Green) Caribou
5:45pm – (Blue) Clark
5:15pm – (Red) Jamie xx
4:45pm – (Blue) How To Dress Well
4:15pm – (Green) Courtney Barnett
3:45pm – (Blue) Perfume Genius
3:20pm – (Red) Madlib & Freddie Gibbs
2:50pm – (Blue) The Julie Ruin
2:30pm – (Green) Waxahatchee
1:55pm – (Blue) Mourn
1:45pm – (Red) Viet Cong
1:00pm – (Blue) Single Mothers
1:00pm – (Green) Bitchin Bajas