Pitchfork lesson: Indie is not dead

The summer’s largest independent music festival rocked, rolled and answered a lot of questions surrounding the state of those two words.

Mark Brenden

In addition to reaffirming the flourishing state of independent music, Pitchfork 2010 displayed a movement finally comfortable in its own skin. The decade in which being labeled a âÄúhipsterâÄù was enough to make someone take a shower, wear contacts and profess oneâÄôs earnestness has passed. On the newly added comedy stage, hipster stereotyping jokes yielded eye rolls rather than self-conscious laughs. On stage, Best Coast and St. Vincent sported their trendy summer shades and tank tops proudly, as did the thousands of shameless imitators in the crowd. Of course, there were some stragglers. One fest-goer donned a shirt reading âÄúIndie is dead.âÄù If thatâÄôs true, then who are all these people? Who are these fifty-plus bands? Why do they look so excited? ShouldnâÄôt they be grieving? Wolf Parade drummer Arlen Thompson dismissed the very term âÄúindie.âÄù âÄúTo me, weâÄôre just a rock band; I donâÄôt even know if the term âÄòindie rockâÄô fits us anymore,âÄù Thompson said. âÄúI guess âÄòindieâÄô became a thing, but the whole concept of indie bands is so nebulous,âÄù he added. âÄúItâÄôs kind of a just a catchall category.âÄù Other artists were more flattered to be playing at what âÄúRolling Stone MagazineâÄù called âÄúthe indie rock mecca ,âÄù and itâÄôs no coincidence that they are younger than the Wolf Parade vets. Take, for example, young indie folkster Sharon Van Etten , who said being invited to the festival is like âÄúfinally being invited to the party.âÄù Or Bethany Cosentino of L.A. surf-sap sensations Best Coast, who gushed over being able to play in the same park as her childhood obsession, indie pioneers Pavement. âÄúItâÄôs exciting. I feel insanely lucky to be playing the same day as Pavement because they have been one of my favorite bands since I was in like eighth grade,âÄù Cosentino said. Paul Sprangers, frontman of feel-good, indie power-pop group Free Energy , responded to the sentiment that this kind of music is on its way out the door with an impassioned wave of the hand. âÄúPeople still love to make music, and people still love to listen to music, so whatâÄôs the [expletive] problem? If this old fossilized system is decaying, it means itâÄôs not necessary anymore. ThereâÄôs gonna be some other system that adapts and survives.âÄù If our T-shirted cynic is accurate in his observation, if the biggest counter-cultural movement of our time is indeed on its deathbed, then âÄî with thousands of people celebrating its livelihood in Union Park last weekend serving as a testimony âÄî it sure seems to already be rising from its own ashes. Acts we loved Modest Mouse Best Coast Titus Andronicus Free Energy Wolf Parade Big Boi Acts we love but were disappointing Girls Beach House Pavement Broken Social Scene Michael Showalter Acts that we didnâÄôt love CAVE El-P