Love it or hate it, Pitchfork has become a very influential critic in independent music today. A high grade on their notoriously arrogant we-are-better-at-listening-to-music-than-you 1-10 scale can make a band’s career out of thin air.
I’ve often mused about what it’s like at the mysterious Pitchfork headquarters. Is it a lofty Chicago apartment full of sassy decades-hipper-than-thou twenty somethings living off sushi and cigarettes? Or is it a network of failed musicians and has-beens living on their mom’s couches with a shifted life mission to damn up-and-coming bands to a hell similar to their own?
Whether you’re aware of it, you probably already know about Pitchfork, even if you’ve never been to their Web site. It’s like that friend of yours who’s a little too opinionated and is best taken in small doses, but everyone knows he has great parties …
The Pitchfork Music Festival begins Friday, July 18th and will feature many great bands that the ‘Fork arbitrarily chose to rave about in the last year or so. The first of the three days will feature artists (Mission of Burma, Sebadoh, and Public Enemy) each performing an album of theirs in its entirety — an idea that is consistent with their site’s holistic approach to album reviews. The other days, however, will be similar to other summer festivals: multiple stages, overlapping sets, hot weather — you get the picture. I was surprised to find it very sensibly priced and to hear that they put a ceiling on ticket sales at 18,000 (the maximum field capacity of the festival grounds is 30,000) to keep it comfortable for the attendees. I give that idea a 9.5.
Another commendable effort is their commitment to keep recycling a top priority during the weekend. All that Goose Island 312 you drink during the festival will be served in cups made from biodegradable corn-based material, not to mention all power generators used will run on bio-diesel fuel.
The truth is, music is a subjective art and Pitchfork’s 1-10 scale means about as much to me as it did when it was used on MTV’s Say What Karaoke. However, more often than not, the albums they hail as masterpieces really are just that. Come hear it all at the Pitchfork Festival, I guarantee it will be at least a 9. But, I recommend you tell your friends it was a 6.5 to sound extra elitist.

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