At around 4 PM yesterday, Reader staff writer Leor Galil informed the rest of the office that Pitchfork Music Festival was going to announce the first third of the lineup at 10:30 this morning.
“They’re going to paint the names on the mural outside of the Violet Hour. We need an intern to cover it,” he said, eyes gleaming with a combination of enthusiasm and relief that he wouldn’t have to do it this year. The painting for last year’s lineup took an hour and a half—but it’s not Pitchfork unless it goes to extraordinary lengths to be cool, like when a white person gives their dog an Instagram account and a “persona.”
The staff began throwing ideas around about how to cover it. Some (like camping outside for 24 hours) were discarded, much to my relief. Then, after nearly half an hour, it was finally settled: I would head over to Wicker Park at 10 AM and start live-tweeting the announcements. I didn’t know what to expect. Would there be a crowd? How big was the mural? How long would it take? Would there be a place for me to pee? Would the painter be wearing overalls and call me “champ”?
Like the good punctual nerd I am, I got off the Damen stop at 10 AM and walked toward the Violet Hour. I found three people standing around in front of a mural. One of them was the painter, Chicago artist Shelby Rodeffer of Finer Signs, and the other two were also part of the Pitchfork crew. Of the roughly 12 people who stuck around for longer than five minutes that morning, I would say ten of them worked for or with Pitchfork. The other two . . . well, one of them was me. The other was a guy named Horatio, who said he worked nearby and was hoping the lineup would include Cupcakke. (Spoiler: it did not.)
I had expected a whole production, because it’s Pitchfork after all. If it’s not the music authority, it’s at least the authority figure’s younger brother, Dustin, who went to Oberlin and has mutual friends with Rex Orange County. The behind-the-scenes action was definitely cool, and the Camilo Medina-designed mural was rad, but the whole event had a very plucky college-play vibe. Someone from the production company taking video of the painting dropped his iPad, causing part of the screen to shatter. The live Facebook feed went out at one point. Also, there was a back door that people kept walking in and out of, occasionally almost hitting the painter.
The most enjoyable part of the experience was seeing the reactions of people online. Most of them didn’t share my editors’ and my cynicism about this whole to-do and were excited to watch paint dry (literally) in real time. Someone replied with not one, not two, but five “omg”s to my reveal that Tame Impala was one of the headliners.
Omg omg omg omg omg! https://t.co/0uhlIoDv9O
— Adamantium (@Arocka120) February 27, 2018
Another person tweeted that she was “shaking and crying” about the Ravyn Lenae announcement. I have never been that enthusiastic about anything in my life. (Can someone check up on her? I’m concerned.)
~shaking and crying~ https://t.co/1N9NZqWLef
— T'Xica (@xicacha) February 27, 2018
I did get excited, though, during the race to decipher who “THI NO HEAT” could possibly mean and tweet updates in an engaging way before another outlet could. It turned out to be the band This Is Not This Heat.
Let’s face it: It’s Pitchfork’s world, and we’re all just livin’ in it. The announcement took two hours. It was a game that was fun for maybe 35 music fans and an intern who was happy she got some Twitter followers from this (hi, Horatio!), although I presume they expect more concert lineup coverage in the future. They will be sorely disappointed.