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Pitchfork Music Festival 2017

12th Annual Chicago Gathering Features Eclectic Lineup

by Steve Horowitz

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A Tribe Called Quest plays July 15, 2017, at Pitchfork.

Pitchfork, the online music magazine that is the world's cultural arbiter of what is cool, hosts its annual festival at Union Park in Chicago for the twelfth time. Again, it features an eclectic lineup of musicians from a host of different genres. The July 14-16 event features artists as talented and diverse as the dance punk band LCD Soundsystem, experimental English rocker PJ Harvey, alternative hip hoppers A Tribe Called Quest, singer songwriter and actress Solange Knowles, jangle popsters The Feelies, and many, many more acts characterized by their talent and diversity. All of the featured performers have been hailed by critics as trailblazers who have carved out new genres of music and expanded the definition of just what rock is and can be.

For a full line-up of the over 40 bands and a schedule of times, go to http://pitchforkmusicfestival.com/. You can also purchase tickets there. Many of the names will be unfamiliar to Iowans as they have never played the Hawkeye state, such as Japanese American singer songwriter Mitski, the mysterious pop act Francis and the Lights, and jazz rappers Madlib. Others have performed here in various guises such as funkateer George Clinton, former lead member of The Walkmen Hamilton Leithauser, and noise rocker Thurston Moore, cofounder of the seminal band Sonic Youth.

Pitchfork expects more than 50,000 attendees from 45 states and 26 countries over the festival's three days. Tickets range from $75 for a day pass to $365 for a special weekend pass that includes curated meals, air conditioned bathrooms, and other amenities. This may not be Woodstock as the audience will have plenty of food and drink offered for sale and a lot of shaded areas to chill, but with three stages often rocking at the same time, it should be a mind-blowing experience for all involved.

Cosponsors of the event include local, regional, and national organizations such as Goose Island brewing, the Illinois Lottery, Deep Eddy Vodka, OKcupid, Yelp, Chirp radio, and others. Vendors include a range of epicurean delights like Robinson's Ribs, Dia de los Tamales, Wao Bao steamed buns, and the Billy Goat Tavern as well as retail and craft outlets Coco Loco Organic Jewelry, FUTUREGARB, and Ariel La Boutique. Nonprofit groups involved include the Chicago Area Peace Corps Association, the Chicago Women's Health Center, the Illinois Safe School Alliance, and Mercy for Animals. This year's fest is also partnering with Everytown for Gun Safety and Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK) to help make a difference in the Chicago community.

But the main draw for most attendees is the music. I personally can't wait to see Detroit rapper Danny Brown, whose Atrocity Exhibition was one of last year's best albums, and indie folk artist Angel Olsen, whose intimate recordings suggest a deep understanding of the relationship between oneself as a child and the adult one has become. However, part of the pleasure of attending the Pitchfork Music Festival is discovering new acts one has not heard before. Pitchfork enjoys a reputation for its discerning ability to find artists deserving of a wider audience and exposing them to the world. It's one thing to read about music on a website. Seeing and hearing it live promises to be an awesome experience.

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