First Thoughts From Pfork Pfest
First, the obvious. In terms of attendance, this festival was a certifiable smash. By Friday, no tickets remained and by early Saturday, Union park was overflowing with hipsters. The southbound Ashland bus that I took at about 3 on Saturday was even teeming with hipsters, who judging from the exuberant conversation buzz I overheard, had all journeyed to Chicago from various other parts of the Midwest. I'm sure many indie rockers would argue that Pitchfork's line-up was far superior to last month's Intonation Fest, thus the sell-out crowd that seemed almost twice as large. However, I'd attribute the crowd surge to the vast reach of the trendsetting hype machine that is Pitchforkmedia.com. Intonation '06 probably retained the core local base of fans, while Pitchfork Music Fest '06 took that Chicago base and raised it with their legions of dedicated indie rockers from across the country. Sure, this year Intonation had Vice Magazine, which is hugely influential in its homebase of New York, as well as much of Europe. However, outside of Chicago, I'm guessing Vice's Midwest reach is pretty thin, while every 12-24 year-old music junkie from Keokuk to Kalamazoo is just a click away from reading about the next big 'Fork-sanctioned indie smash. If it wasn't obvious already, there's no doubt now that Pitchfork is no longer just a cult phenomenon. Pitchfork has now officially hit the mainstream. "Indie" is truly the new "alternative," and just as the likes of Lollapalooza, KROQ and MTV's Kennedy ushered in the flannel shirt era, Pitchfork has become the torch bearer of this generation's movement.