Make no mistake, it was quite hot at the Pitchfork Music Festival. The threat of heatstroke? High. But that wasn’t the most pressing danger of the weekend. Any time a field is flooded with indie music fans, there’s a pronounced risk of total irony overload.
See, what separates the roughly 18,000 kids that make up the Pitchfork crowd from the Woodstock and Monterey Pop hippies of yore is that style and conviction are different entities. When Grateful Dead fans have dreadlocks, they believe in them. But when indie kids wear flower-pattern rain boots and cereal-box-prize-style plastic sunglasses, they’re in on the joke.
That’s not to say that every man sporting tight jogging shorts and bangs is an overly self-aware jerk. But while A&E was at the festival, we did risk having our minds iron-ilated and we did our best to scan the entire spectrum of hip-strosity.
So don’t feel bad if you missed out on the festival, just put on a playlist that starts with some Dodos and ends with some Les Savy Fav, get yourself a dripping cone full of soy ice cream and pretend these characters are right next to you, getting loaded on Sparks alcoholic energy drinks.
The Free Spirit
Person: Emma Evanston
Vibe: creative, sans the BS that sometimes comes with identifying yourself as “away from the crowd”
What’s your style philosophy?
Whatever’s brightly colored – I like it.
What animal would you say most symbolizes your style?
(With no hesitation) A raccoon.
Where do you usually shop?
I’m a big fan of H&M.
Do you take economic ease into account when you shop?
Not too much.
What band did you come to Pitchfork for?
Cut Copy. Animal Collective has been the best so far.
The Wise World-Travelers
Even at a youth-oriented festival the likes of Pitchfork, there is undoubtedly going to be a worldly and aged hippie couple in attendance to study the “new breed” of festivals. He’ll be politically conscious – and vocal – and she’ll be the same. Both will have longwinded and charming stories of the festivals of yore and plenty of commentary on what the hip kids of today are doing. They’ll be two owls patiently watching over the new flock.
Transpose younger bodies into their dreads, tattered clothes and general bohemian getups, and you would hardly be able to tell the difference. But there is a difference, and that difference is the fact that they’ll be well-versed in what has lasting power and what doesn’t. That perspective makes them more valuable than your average Vampire Weekend fan – or the members of Vampire Weekend themselves, for that matter.
Drunken Crowd Surfers
These keg-racing, hops-loving party animals couldn’t care less which band is playing, they’re a bit distracted by the number of hands groping every part of their bodies and sending them forward to be delivered to the band, like some kind of trophy merited by how much they rule.
Usually, they’ll end up in a full nelson with the security guard, pleading that their forced exit happen the same way they came: crowd surfing.
The Insufferably Hip
The foot soldier of the Pitchfork attendee ranks is the private-college-educated, vintage-T-shirt-wearing and perpetually ironic male. They’ll spout off dismissive and irreverent critiques of mainstream culture and condescend from their oh-so-safe perch. Despite being a festival of exclusively independent bands, they’ll only vouch their allegiance to the lesser-knowns, giving them infinite credibility.
It’s a cyclical approach, because when a band like F–k Buttons gets too big, they’ll be hucked into the same pile as a David Letterman guest (The Hold Steady). But hey – they’re too gosh darn hip to care.
The “Accidentally Fashionable”
A sage, beehive-coifed man with a beer once said, “Kids these days go out of their way to look like nerds.”
Whether that’s true or not, there are always indie kids who follow a style creed along the lines of “to follow a style creed takes too much effort, so I go with my gut.” Usually, they end up getting a bit too nostalgic of clothes that remind them of Drew Barrymore circa the “E.T.” days, or hats that, ironically, make them look like truck drivers.
You might find this person wearing ruby-slipper-colored Doc Marten boots and mermaid dresses, no doubt typing on their Blackberry and smoking an American Spirit.
Mellow Security Guards
These guys sit around with free energy drinks and give a light to the occasional begging hipster who has just realized that cigarettes cannot achieve their purpose without at least a flick or two from a Bic.
Occasionally, they have to deal with a cocky person double fisting a set of beers who has decided that he or she deserves access to the photo pit.
Mostly, they are just the gods of tossing the occasional water bottle at a dehydrated-looking hipster.
The Good Samaritan
Person: Patrick Trap – Middle-aged guy who walks around at music festivals spraying hot concert-goers with a water bottle.
Vibe: Claims his day job as a psychotherapist lacks real, concrete validation. Misting, on the other hand, provides instant relief. A solid philosophy and a solid guy.
How has your career of spritzing people at festivals changed over time?
The first year there was nobody who got mad. I could put my squirter on the hardest setting and go up to the toughest-looking guy at a Rage Against the Machine show and squirt him right in the ear and at first he’d go “Uhh?” and then he’d go “Ahh.” Now people are more wary.
What acts are you excited about for Lollapalooza?
Obama might be there this year. Of course, I’m excited about Radiohead. I’m also excited about this new person I heard called Dr. Dog. I like The Kills, too.
Did you enjoy The Hold Steady’s show?
I don’t know if The Hold Steady comes across in a festival setting, because people don’t understand that the songs are mini-stories. Once you get into the stories, you hear the music differently.