Pitchfork 2013 survival guide

Ready for Pitchfork? Here's how to make the most of it.

July 18, 2013

This year's Pitchfork Music Festival kicks off tomorrow, meaning your chance to see your favorite indie artists perform in the flesh is just around the grassy, sun-drenched corner. 
 
But before you allow thoughts of the Breeders playing "Last Splash" or Bj√∂rk wearing Koosh ball headgear to completely occupy your mind for the next three days, remember that personal safety, sanity and some serious festival prep should always come first. 
 
Whether this is your debut venture, or what seems the billionth time you have attended the annual hipster mecca in Chicago's Union Park, here's what you need to know: 
 
Drink water.
 
With temperatures expected to peak at 80 and 90 degrees this weekend, remember that H2O is your friend. Bring a sealed, refillable water bottle with you to the park; and when Pitchfork staffers hand out free bottles around midday, know that pouring them over your head and lightly dousing others upon request is perfectly acceptable in a heat wave. Just make sure to recycle your empties. 
 

Wear sunscreen.

At the risk of sounding like your mother, slather on the SPF before you arrive and reapply every couple hours. This bothersome ritual may feel uncool, but you know what's even more uncool? Looking like a very sad and achy lobster the next day. 

Dress light. 

If you can avoid wearing black, the color that the sun loves the most, then please do. Also, Pitchfork is your chance to wear the teeny crop tops and high-waisted shorts that can be a tad too hipster-casual for the office, family gatherings and jaunts down Michigan Avenue. No worries: you'll fit right in here. 

Rock the fannypack. Seriously.

The fannypack has fallen out of favor since the 1980s, but in these circumstances, it couldn't be more appropriate. If you can fit your phone, keys, wallet, tiny packable rain poncho and mini-sunblock into a "vintage" bag directly strapped to your body, then the possibility of your personal items getting lost or stolen will go down significantly. And while we're on the subject...  

Keep your phone on lockdown.

If you take your phone out on the festival grounds, odds are good that you will: 

  • Lose it.
  • Drop it in the mud.
  • Drop it under a stampede of moshing feet.
  • Have a band member of Yo La Tengo give you the stink eye for taking photos during their set. 

The last possibility may sound exciting, but in order to keep all of the above from happening to you, keep your phone safely tucked away and out of sight. 

Use discretion when moshing.

Last year at Pitchfork, I was punched in the face during an impromptu mosh to AraabMuzik. The incident was purely accidental—too many fists and pointy elbows flying through the air. But since then, I have vowed to keep my skinny, fragile-boned body away from direct line of fire. The moral of the story: if you want to jostle around in the park with complete strangers who may weigh twice as much as you, be prepared to take a hit. 

Expect to come across these kinds of people:

  • The gaggle of friends pushing their way to the front of the crowd, who will provoke extreme annoyance and often vocal outrage from everyone around them – especially those who have been staked out stageside for more than three hours and do not appreciate these freeloaders one bit. 
  • The fence jumpers, who will eventually get tackled and dragged out in front of everyone.
  • The drunk/stoned/sexually liberated college kids, who will remove all of the clothes that they can legally get away with by mid-afternoon.
  • The highschoolers, who will make you feel very old.

What are your Pitchfork do's and dont's? 

Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer for WBEZ and co-host of Changing Channels, a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on TwitterFacebook and Tumblr