Have Your Best Fest: Tips We Learned at Pitchfork Music Festival

We’re halfway through summer, and that means we’ve reached the midpoint of the many, many music festivals across the world. WeArePressPlay went to Chicago staple Pitchfork Music Festival, and came up with this handy guide of festival best practices. Read on for tips on how to get maximum enjoyment out of your upcoming events, as observed during our experience at PMF.



Stars of the Show:  Carly Rae Jepsen; The Range

Dos and Don’ts of the Day:

  • DO: Get outside of your comfort zone. There were several bands playing that I didn’t know as well as others, but their performances ended up being highlights of the day. Acts like Whitney, Moses Sumney, and The Range performed on the intimate Blue Stage, giving new fans like myself a sampler of their intricate and exciting sounds.
  • DO: Chat with the sponsors. Not only can you rack up the freebies, but you can take part in the fun non-fest activities too. At Pitchfork, I grabbed an assortment of snacks and gifts, and played “STD Roulette” – which was informative and not as scary as it sounds – at a Chicago-based sexual health education booth.
  • DON’T: Forget a jacket. Day one of Pitchfork started off damp and drizzling, but luckily unprepared guests could saunter over to Dark Horse Wines‘ modern saloon-inspired bar for plastic rain ponchos and complimentary glasses of their fantastic rose, merlot, or chardonnay.
  • DON’T: Overdo it on the first day of a festival. Pitchfork’s location in Union Park provided lots of shady areas to rest in, perfect for the many families (or tired old people like me) in attendance to take a break when you hit that pre-headliner slump.


Stars of the Show: Anderson .Paak; Holly Herndon

Dos and Don’ts of the Day:

  • DOMake new friends! Hitting the fest solo, I found that the best conversation starter was asking what bands someone was excited about seeing. The friendly, positive energy of Pitchfork Music Festival was conducive to befriending lots of other music lovers around me – that, and the fact that I was wearing a Robesman Season 6 shirt (shoutout to the B666/Robesman/NONSTOPPOP tees I saw at Pitchfork).
  • DO: Get familiar with your surroundings. I grabbed a map and scoped out all that Pitchfork had to offer, from the CHIRP Radio record fair, Book Fort, and the artists’ booths in the back corner of the park. My favorite spot was the centrally located CLIF Bar pop-up recycled record pressing station and activity center – as the festival’s Sustainability Partner, CLIF asked six artists to create postcards based around the phrase “leave a mark, not a trace”. Pitchfork festival attendees could color in the artists’ designs, then mail them to friends courtesy of CLIF. After traipsing around Union Park, I stopped at CLIF’s station, grabbed some gel pens and doodled while listening to Brian Wilson midday. Side note: Brian Wilson’s music is ideal to color to.
  • DON’T: Forget to eat and hydrate. While the array of alcohol selections was by far the best I’d ever seen at a festival, with specialty brewed beers co-created by Chicago band Twin Peaks, along with wine, cider, and craft cocktails, Pitchfork was smart to make sure their patrons had plenty of water stations near all of the food stations and bars. Along with that, the festival hosted a number of restaurants and food trucks that catered to special dietary needs.


Stars of the Show: Miguel; FKA Twigs

Dos and Don’ts of the Day:

  • DO: Stop by and show some love to Flatstock’s alley of poster art of all your favorite artists of the weekend or on your music-streaming playlists outside the festival. The artists there also do vend other goods like shirts, hats, and other miscellaneous accessories you’ll most likely broaden your festival budget for: plenty leftover for the last day of the festival. And don’t be worrying about the burden or potential harm of carrying. Pitchfork offers lockers to protect and relieve your purchases, bags, and worries.
  • DO: Make friends with the security around the festival. For the most part, if you’re not a drunk nuisance or constantly asking your friend or stranger to get on their shoulders, the relationship between you and security practically is Facebook-worthy. For front-row stalwarts, security deals with unwanted and disruptive fans in the crowd you don’t want around, caters to your needs such as carry above the barrier for whenever and whatever you want out, and offers free water bottles to make ensure you’re at your well-hydrated best. Definitely the type you take back to your Mom and Pops.
  • DON’T: Be afraid to let loose and bust a move from wherever you’re enjoying the music. Even with dedicated fan bases fighting for closer views of their favorite artist and countless loungers with their portable chairs, blankets, and other belongings watching the acts in comfort, there’s still plenty of room to move about and dance however you want. Whether you’re a two-stepper, an arm-waver, or a fan of the mosh pit variety, all are welcome by the laid-back, fellow concertgoers.

Words: Staley Sharples and William Cua

Images: Pitchfork

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