Greetings 2016 Pitchfork Music Festival artists, and welcome to our beautiful, encased-meat-laden city by the lake! Or should I say “Welcome back”? After a quick perusal of the lineup card, I can see that this isn’t the first trip to the salad bar for many of you—by my count, 13 acts are making their second, third, or even fourth Pitchfork appearance this year, with some having played as recently as 2014. As an unofficial coach and official gossip columnist for Chicago’s music scene, I’ve seen a lot of local artists grow stale by refusing to switch things up and challenge their fans with aggressively pointless stylistic swerves. So boring! The festival stage is a perfect venue to escape such a quagmire! Do you know what French critic and theorist Roland Barthes said about all this? “The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition.” While I’m not entirely sure what that means—I don’t speak French!—it helps me feel entitled to advise a few of you on possible new avenues.
Alcala’s Western Wear (1733 W. Chicago) is less than a mile from Union Park, and country music is less than a millimeter from my heart. That’s close! Dev Hynes, I implore you to go honky-tonk. Your ace songwriting and silky, superbly orchestrated blend of pop, rock, and R&B are just a steel guitar and a ten-gallon Stetson away from dominating country radio. You know how Brad Paisley pretends to be “country for smart people”? You could really do it!
Aren’t you just about tired of being the most sharply dressed and surefire best postpunk band on the planet? Your show at Metro in April was transcendent, and excellence is a terrible look. Costumes are much better! Ever heard Green Jellÿ? They stormed the charts with dumb Gwar-style outfits and grotesque video imagery ripped off from fairy tales. Jehnny Beth, have you ever wondered what it’d be like to perform in a giant peanut costume? Let the folks at Portage Park weirdo hub Fantasy Costumes (4065 N. Milwaukee) make your fantasy—well, mine, actually—a reality!
Broken Social Scene
Because I suffer from Broken Social Misophonia—aka the hatred of sounds related to your music—I’d like to encourage you to play a silent set this year. No plugging in. You can move around, though!
Boys, your debut set in 2014—where guitarist Cadien Lake James performed in a dirty-ass leg cast and a wheelchair on account of a busted ankle—worked out pretty well. This year you might want to “Segway” into a new stage gimmick: Everyone in the band has their own wheels! Bumper cars? Radio Flyer wagons? You guys are on a roll! Keep it up! v