About This Festival
Pitchfork Music Festival began in 2006 as a two-day event that brought more than 30,000 people to Union Park to enjoy new, emerging & independent/alternative music. Its origins came with 2005’s Intonation Music Festival, a two-day event that brought 15,000 people in Chicago’s Union Park to see acts such as The Decemberists, the Go! Team and Broken Social Scene. Pitchfork is a festival where you’re likely to see and hear emerging bands and singers you may not have heard before, along with some indie favorites, and a few headliners guaranteed to get people through the gates.
The festival is a natural branding outgrowth of Pitchfork Media, the tastemaking online music magazine dedicated to new and independent music that began in 1995. Its reviews of bands such as Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and Bon Iver have helped those artists break through and become more successful. That inaugural year saw Band of Horses, Spoon, Os Mutatnes, the Silver Jews, Matmos, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, A-Trak, Flosstradamus, and more. In the past few years, Pitchfork has typically attracted about 50,0000 attendees and hosted about 40 or more bands across three stages simply named red, blue and green.
Pitchfork Music Festival is Affordable and Modern
Many things about Pitchfork remain unchanged since its first appearance in summer 2006. Pitchfork Media has worked with the same music production company, Mike Reed’s At Pluto, and has been held in July at Union Park in Chicago. To this day, one of Pitchfork’s calling cards has been its affordability, which it makes it approachable and a great bargain for attendees in comparison with some other large-scale music festivals. It’s also known to keep the music going until the wee hours by staging a few after parties/after shows at surrounding clubs after the festival wraps up, typically incorporating some of the acts from the festival along with DJs.
In 2007, Pitchfork's schedule expanded to three days, and did something a little different with the first day of entertainment. Partnering with the U.K.’s All Tomorrow’s Parties as part of its “Don’t Look Back Series,” it gave artists the opportunity to play their album in its entirety, creating unique experience for fans of, for example, Sonic Youth (Daydream Nation) and Slint (Spiderland). In spring 2008, Pitchfork expanded on its collaboration and curated half a bill of one of the U.K. company’s May festival weekends—making it the first Pitchfork related event outside the United States.
In 2011, Pitchfork launched an indoor overseas iteration in Paris, held in late October at La Grande Halle de la Villette, an indoor space at Parc de Villette, the city’s largest cultural park. The festival describes it as being “curated” by the moody falsetto crooner Bon Iver (a.k.a. Justin Vernon)—he both headlined the event and picked the artists in conjunction with Pitchfork.
It featured artists such as Animal Collective, Jessie Ware, M83, Grizzly Bear, Breton and more. The European incarnation now takes place every year.
Lean, Mean and Green
Pitchfork Music Festival is fueled by biodiesel, which is cleaner than regular diesel fuel. Compost containers can be found too, so that food scraps get recycled. Organizers encourage people to purchase carbon offsets to fund research that prevents climate change. Performers and personnel for the festival get shuttled around using hybrid cars via ZipCar throughout the weekend.
Pitchfork takes it a step further with something called Trashed Recycling, an incentive for you to pick up errant bottles and cans throughout the park. Take the recyclables to the stand and exchange them for concert merchandise, music, backpacks, and other swag. The progressive stance is carried through with the food, too—in a city that loves its food, it’s not uncommon to find vendors with vegan, gluten free and/or vegetarian-friendly fare.