July 25th, 2012
So what exactly are you to do when you’re at an outdoor music festival waiting for your favorite band — say Japandroids or Cults — to take the stage and it starts pouring rain? Why, you wait it out of course, because this show is exactly the moment you’ve been waiting for — torrential downpour be damned! That’s precisely what thousands of fans did a number of times at the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park for the three-day event that started on none other than Friday the 13th. In the end, though, the rain stopped, the sun shone, the mud dried and thousands went away happier to have withstood the elements.
Allotted a photo-pit press pass for the three days, I can emphatically say that I’m glad I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of some of those bands because, quite honestly, I might be a little too old for that shit. Of course, that’s said in hindsight after pouring (pun intended) through the thousands of images captured over the weekend. Had I been a diehard fan, maybe eating mud and feeling other people’s hipster sweaty bodies might have been more inviting.
So, what are my impressions from my very first indie music festival you ask? Well, for starters, the crowds were much, much kinder than any I encountered at old-school fests, such as the touring Lollapalooza or HFStival in Baltimore — two of my old favorites. Secondly, this generation of “rockers” amazes me in that they’re carrying the torch along as effectively as Led Zeppelin, Van Halen or Stone Temple Pilots ever did (even if in a less raucous way). Audiences will never change when they’re impassioned by a band or musician’s sonic weavings. To spend that moment with them playing and singing to you, for you, is all any fan really wants. The goosebumps and adrenaline rush of being a part of something special — that connectedness to the musicians and others — is really what it’s all about at the end of the day, and there was more than enough of that to go around at Pitchfork 2012. And that, my friends, is precisely the torch that’s getting carried along well into the twenty-first century.