2011 Summer Music Festival Preview

Pitchfork Music Festival

Photo by Christopher Alvarez

July 15-17
Chicago, IL

Lineup: Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, TV on the Radio, OFWGKTA, Destroyer, Deerhunter, Cut Copy, Superchunk, James Blake, Thurston Moore

Tickets: http://www.ticketweb.com/snl/EventListings.action?orgId=57762&REFID=fest

A Few Words: While Pitchfork’s festival, held in Chicago’s beautiful Union Park, is among the younger festivals on the Summer-weekend-away scene, the event suffers little “new kid” syndrome, and succeeds on a marriage of well-conceived organization and super-solid booking. With a shorter and more selective lineup list than many of the other premier fests, Pitchfork can strike many as something of an eyebrow raiser. Here the top-billed act isn’t Eminem or Foo Fighters, acts that cast their print as artists with a sensibility infectious enough to inspire crossover, a simultaneous originality and accessibility, but rather the internet-darling, radio-impossible Animal Collective. Maybe Pitchfork is claiming its turf here, Granddaddy-New-Rock-Crit, but more likely they’re casting glances from the perspective of a growing population of listeners invested in their heroes, willing to lionize when the accomplishment is visceral. And, hell, there’s nothing wrong with that.

This is not to say that Pitchfork is in any way limiting or deliberately restrictive, the festival offers some of the most exciting acts available this summer: Battles, Gang Gang Dance, James Blake, Odd Future, and a set from Fleet Foxes, whose new album has achieve near-universal acclaim (look no further than Philip’s article here) in sunny Chicago is doubtlessly thrilling. Throw in Guided By Voices (yes!), Superchunk and (goddamn) Dismemberment Plan, not to mention Thurston Moore of… what band was it again? Pitchfork weds the buzzed and the legendary with rancor and deliberation: with only two stages playing at a given moment, all within a moment’s walk, you’re unlikely to miss anybody you want to watch (with careful planning!). I’m personally thrilled to see newbies Yuck, who I recently saw open for Tame Impala, snag a well-deserved slot here – and I’m jealous of everyone who is around to see HEALTH slay shit to pieces.

That said, Pitchfork can feel thin. What are we supposed to Dance Ourselves Clean to, P4K? The immortal DJ Shadow is here, sure, but what am I supposed to wiggle myself sober to after you stop selling beer at 9:30? Even hip-hop feels ill-represented: Das Racist, Curren$y and Odd Future are excellent but alternative tastes – last year you gave us Big Boi and Raekwon, it’s okay to go big! These complaints are of course, minor in the grand scheme. You’ll have a great time at the festival. The atmosphere is united and accepting (I’ve heard rumors of Pokemon card games going down?) and the location is tough to beat. Yeah, it sucks that you can’t camp out, but with so many festival-goers flooding the city… that hostel is likely to be better than any frat house you ever blew people’s minds out with Girl Talk in.

FM Stringer


ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror curated by Portishead

July 23-24
London, England

Lineup: Portishead, Grinderman, DOOM, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Caribou, PJ Harvey, Beach House, Swans, Company Flow

Tickets: http://www.atpfestival.com/events/ibymportishead/tickets.php

A Few Words: People who’ve been to Alexandra Palace for a show probably aren’t too fond of the place. The giant concert hall (formerly an ice rink) is prone to echoes and is not the most hospitable-looking of rooms. However, if that’s where one must go to see rarely touring acts like Portishead, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and MF Doom all in one place then I’m sure you can put your misgivings behind you. Additionally, if there are any bands who are well equipped to fill a space of that size it’s the loud-as-fuck likes of Swans, Liars and particularly the eight-strong Godspeed, whose mesmerising clips will be visible to those even right at the back thanks to Alexandra Palace’s big screens. The curators, Portishead, are playing on home soil for the first time in years, and they will perform both nights, meaning more than one chance to catch one Britain’s most beloved pioneering groups. With new material surely being their priority at these performances, the double-billing will at least give them the opportunity to air as much as they want, and the time to give the fans all the old favourites that they crave.

Indoors may not be where you want to be on a weekend in July, but this is England: it’ll probably be raining. This is the inaugural year of the festival, so many variables are yet to be determined: how will the transport work? (Alexandra Palace is not easy to reach) What will the additional stages be like? How much will drinks cost? One thing that can be certain is that it will be well run, as ATP have been putting on festivals either side of the Atlantic for a decade now, anyone who has been to any of their events can tell you that they put the music fan first.

Rob Hakimian



Photo by Max Blau

August 5-7
Chicago, IL

Lineup: Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Muse, My Morning Jacket, The Cars, Bright Eyes, Arctic Monkeys, Death From Above 1979, Explosions in the Sky

Tickets: http://www.lollapalooza.com/tickets/

A Few Words: There are several of misconceptions about this year’s Lollapalooza. While it still leans on 90’s stalwarts such as headliners Foo Fighters, it isn’t the alternative celebration it was in past decades, nor has it completely gravitated towards mainstream radio rock, though it does feature the likes of Coldplay and Muse. What Lollapalooza is in 2011 is a festival without a single overarching directive. It neither aims to appease Generation X-ers or appeal to this past decade’s indie-kids. The best way to approach this festival is to consider it a giant music-appetizer sampler. This set up allows for music fans to simply go stage to stage and try finding something new, or discover something old. Younger fans can partake in a reunited Big Audio Dynamite and Deftones while older festival veterans can take in newer groups like Portugal. The Man and the Drums.

Chicago’s Grant Park, home of Lollapalooza since 2005, is pretty decent place for a music festival of this size. Most of its problems come from transportation to and from the festival. The use of public transportation is a must. The audio systems allow for a surprisingly good sound so long as you’re not terribly off to the right or left of the stage, and are about as good as you can expect for non-permanent outdoor sound configurations.

Jason Hirschhorn



August 6
Los Angeles, CA

Lineup: Duck Sauce, Ratatat, Odd Future, Chromeo, Boys Noize, Skrillex, James Murphy & Pat Mahoney, Digitalism, Holy Ghost!, Shit Robot

Tickets: http://www.hardfest.com/tickets/

A Few Words: Electronic music festivals in the United States are always a divisive matter, but for a place that’s only recently adopted a love for all things techno, Los Angeles has become the go-to spot for glorified dance parties. Second only to Electric Daisy Carnival, Hard Summer is year over year one of the most enjoyable and talent filled festivals featuring electronic music exclusively. Taking place in Los Angeles’ State Historic Park, Hard Summer is the anchor for Hard’s continually growing lineup of year long and traveling showcases, curating bands as diverse as their crowds.

Especially this year, as house party DJs Duck Sauce and raver extraordinares Boys Noize headline the day-long festival. But if you’re more into thrashing during a hip-hop set than dancing a hole into your shoes, L.A. rap collective Odd Future will be performing to the furry-booted and glow stick throwing crowd. And even though LCD Soundystem are done, frontman James Murphy is staying busy during Hard Summer with this year’s DFA Records tent. Featuring Murphy and LCD drummer Pat Mahoney DJing under their rarely used Special Disco Version moniker, Shit Robot, Holy Ghost!, Juan Maclean, and Still Going will also be there to represent the New York disco label. Hard Summer caters to all dance music aficionados, and that’s what makes it impressive. And although it’s usually and young and raucous crowd, police and festival patrol have done a great job in recent years of keeping trouble to a minimum. Whether you’re on team Ed Banger or side with the DFA squad, there’s something for every synth loving, block rocking partier at Hard Summer, making it a premier festival destination.

Erik Burg


Way Out West

August 11-13
Goteborg, Sweden

Lineup: Kanye West, Pulp, Fleet Foxes, James Blake, Robyn, Santigold, Janelle Monae, Robyn, Explosions in the Sky, Q-Tip

Tickets: http://www.wayoutwest.se/english

A Few Words: Swedish festival Way Out West is celebrating its five-year anniversary this year, and they’re planning on doing it with style. Since it’s named after Big Star’s classic Radio City cut you should have a pretty good idea about what to expect on their line-up – it’s the type of music you’d read about here on One Thirty BPM; indie rock, electronic, hip-hop etc. The original Way Out West festival took place in 2007 and started out strong, but has been growing since and it’s now one of the most reliable and popular festivals in Sweden.

The three-day festival takes place in the Slottskogen park in central Gothenburg, Sweden’s second biggest city with around 500,000 inhabitants located on the Swedish west coast, and it’s been marketed as a festival for the more mature festival attendee. There are no tents, minimum amount of mud – none of the classic festival signs, instead they’ve focused on the music and the service with regularly excellent line-ups and far better food and drink choices than you’d expect at a regular festival.

The festival gigs in Slottskogen are only half of the festival though, after the day ends the night begins with the Stay Out West club program where your festival ticket will allow you entrance to several clubs around Gothenburg where more bands will be playing. Be warned though, there’s 25 000 people with a ticket and not nearly enough space to fit everyone in the clubs so be prepared to wait in line for quite some time unless you leave the festival area early. The festival area is open on Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th but the club program opens on Thursday night to get the festival going.

The main part of a festival is of course the line-up and they begun heavy with Kanye West headlining the first year, and they’ve since had bands and artists such as Neil Young, Sigur Rós, Sonic Youth, Arctic Monkeys, My Bloody Valentine, Pavement, LCD Soundsystem and Wu-Tang Clan among their headliners. This year’s line-up is looking very good, despite not nearly being filled yet, with Kanye West returning to headline and Fleet Foxes, Robyn, Pulp, Janelle Monáe, Q-Tip and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti playing the festival area.

The club program contains among others Yuck, Jamie Woon, Destroyer, The Jayhawks, Low and Warpaint, with British wunderkind James Blake being booked to a club gig due to only being available on the first day. Blake’s concert will most likely be a reprise of The Tallest Man On Earth’s similarly placed gig last year, where people waited in line for several hours without getting into the venue.

Johan Alm

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