Monday, July 23, 2007

Pitchfork Music Fest - A Week Later

I haven’t unpacked my suitcase, but I’ve sorted my thoughts. Behold, the ramblings of a paranoid, self-deprecating mad woman at Pitchfork Music Festival 2007.

I Like My Space
Not MySpace, you zealots. My space. My protective bubble. Oh, girl on my right at the New Pornos, with your darkish clothes and blurrish face. You assaulted my periphery. Crushed my toes. Assailed my nostrils with your little old lady perfume. All in an attempt to inch past me in your stupid espadrilles, hoping to lock eyes with Neko Case when she stepped onstage. For that, if nothing else, I could accept her absence.

Despite my love of space, I am a Kansas hater. Bitch and moan, bitch and moan. I’m like the character Otis from the non-Will-Ferrell film Kicking and Screaming. When he whines about an errant cheese fry in his beer, his no-nonsense friend says, “Don’t complain if you’re not going to do anything about it.” That’s me, griping about Kansas, though you don’t see me scrambling to leave the state. That’s me, contentedly chugging my cheesy beer.

I’ve always loathed Kansas for its expansiveness. For being the calm little center of the country. For its hicks. At last, I thought, I was going to Chicago. A place where people were open-minded. Dressed better (see below). Above all, listened to good music. Maybe it was culture shock, lack of sleep, the drugs, but I quickly realized how much I had romanticized the big city. Don’t get me wrong, Chicago is incredible – I’m just realizing I could be miserable anywhere. Why not be miserable somewhere where I can hop in my Toyota and not miss the first half of the Twilight Sad’s set (if they ever played piddling Kansas)? Stupid trains.

I Am a Bastard
On our honeymoon, my husband and I constructed an elaborate sandcastle on the beach. In the distance a freckled, chubby brat salivated at the jowls, awaiting our departure so he could decimate our fragile creation. I’ve never abhorred anyone so intensely, nor felt so at peace about it.

I started thinking about this dumpy bastard the second day of the festival while listening to The Sea and Cake. By four on Sunday, I was losing steam faster than the third act of a Modest Mouse album. So we sat under a tree next to a group of gents digging in the dirt. The festival lineup was that good: droves of people with nothing better to do during The Sea and Cake than to play with sticks. Half an hour later, those sticks became an intricate miniature village inhabited by plastic dinosaurs. A crowd gathered; the builders committed the achievement to film. Moments later some poor lout bumbled along and trampled it. As he stumbled away, pink-cheeked, I thought, that kid is going to go kill himself. That was before Ben, Clint, and Trent rebuilt the structure and left for a bit, no doubt to congratulate one another over a beer, a funnel cake. That was before I was taking pictures for the blog and toppled it again.

So I felt a little like one of those no-good journalists who end up becoming the subjects of their stories, you know, like Watergate or something. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to tell good ole Ben, Clint, and Trent what I’d done. Instead I shook their hands and told them I loved their tiny dino city, and that I’d felt responsible for it in their absence. Minutes later my husband said to me, “What do you mean you felt like you had to protect it? You stepped on it.” You see, honey, that is precisely the reason I had to watch over it, because I had maimed it. This coming from a girl who still chastises herself for chipping her husband’s tooth on a beer bottle. (Maybe that was what he was so pissy about.)

Did I mention I’m a recovering Catholic? Perhaps that’s why I can’t let this go. Perhaps that’s why now, more than a week later, I’m compelled to confess. Ben, Clint, and Trent, it was me. The girl with the stupid camera. The stupid blog. I toppled your so-called “foundry.” I am your dumpy bastard.

I Am Not a Hipster
Indie music attracts an eclectic array of listeners. For the most part, hipsters. Admittedly, I am simultaneously enthralled and repelled by this culture. Allow me to explain.

My friend James said it best when, after arriving at Day One of the festival, he announced, "Everyone here is cooler than me." After studying mass quantities of hipsters at the festival, I have deduced there are two main varieties of hipster:

Hipster as a lifestyle choice: these folk embrace the mind-set they convey. Think unwashed hair, no makeup, drab/mismatched clothes assembled with their grandmother’s 1974 olive green Singer. Many of these hipsters are what I would call “beautifully ugly”: people so plain, pale, or odd they’re breathtaking. I can respect these people; I just don’t want to share a hairbrush with them.

Hipster by design: these folk want to dress like hipsters dress. They wear anything and everything hideous, as if to say, “Look at all this uncool shit I’m wearing, and yet consider how cool I end up looking.” I saw, in no particular order: gaggles of girls in gold sequined fanny packs, mullet-wearing men and women, a man with a paste-on gray beard, a man smoking out of an old timey tobaccy pipe. (Did I miss something, or is the grandpa look en vogue?) Two girls in particular baffled me – one wore a pair of bee antennae, the other a multi-colored strap-on umbrella (strapped to her head, pervs). They conversed as if these were perfectly normal objects to find affixed to one’s head. (Granted, at least the umbrella had a practical purpose at a sweltering music festival). “Posers” is a tough word for this type of hipsters, though this isn’t a far cry from people who buy $180 hole-punched denims.

I am perhaps the worst type of hipster, “the occasional hipster” – one too lazy to be a full-time hipster by design, not lazy enough to be a true hipster. I’m the type who’ll wear black tights and a hideous peach sweater to a show and worry about it matching. I love my thick, dramatic bangs, but haven’t the patience to style them – or for that matter, not to style them, and have them constantly catching my eyelashes. In the hipster culture, shouldn’t hairspray be beside the point?

This is perhaps my biggest criticism of the hipster culture: for a style that evokes a do-it-yourself, don’t-give-a-shit, I-rolled-out-of-bed-looking-like-this attitude, hipsters expend an incredible amount of effort trying to appear like they haven’t put forth any effort at all. In essence, hipsters must embrace filth – or worse, fiction.

So why do I so desperately want to be one?

Final Thoughts
I didn’t get any Neko. Or Kevin Barnes’ penis. I was made to bury romanticisms about the city of Chicago and its hipper-than-thou populace. But I did get the best festival lineup I’ve seen, and for a paltry fifty bucks. I also got some good pictures of the foundry before I demolished it, and of Kev in his bondage outfit. As you can see, I took them with my hipster camera. Just $1,000, and it makes everything grainy, achromatic, so beautifully ugly.

No comments: