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The Reader's Guide to the Pitchfork Music Festival

Featuring Pavement, Big Boi, Freddie Gibbs, LCD Soundsystem, Robyn, the Smith Westerns, and more

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Friday | Saturday | Sunday

The 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival is the sixth big Chicago fest curated by the influential online music magazine and remains the banner event on its expanding calendar of IRL events, which includes a stage at Barcelona's Primavera Sound. The festival runs Friday, July 16, through Sunday, July 18, in Union Park, and this year its Friday schedule has expanded to a full day, adding several musical acts (for a total of 41) as well as sets from nonmainstream stand-up comics whose position in the comedy world is loosely analogous to the bands' position in the music business.

The music this year runs the gamut from buzzed-about newcomers like Sleigh Bells and Delorean to established veterans like Modest Mouse and Raekwon, playing everything from garage-inflected pop (Girls, Smith Westerns) to hip-hop (Big Boi, Freddie Gibbs) to dance music (Dam-Funk, LCD Soundsystem). Sunday night's main attraction is the temporarily reunited Pavement, avatars of the kind of indie rock Pitchfork is famous for championing—their best-of set Quarantine the Past got a perfect 10.0 from Pitchfork in March. The two main stages are Aluminum, in the northeast corner of the park, and Connector, to the northwest; the smaller Balance Stage is to the southwest.

Nonmusic attractions include the American Poster Institute's Flatstock show and sale—essentially a huge outdoor gallery of silk-screened gig posters—and the CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights, where a cut of the proceeds will benefit the Chicago Independent Radio Project. The craft and fashion bazaar Coterie will be stocked with "handmade goods created by a skilled artisan workforce," and there will also be a merch booth with artist-specific and festival-themed goods. Local music-education nonprofit Rock for Kids will host a weekend-long charity auction of items donated by Pitchfork artists. New this year are a photo booth, a silk-screening station, and an old-school video-game arcade, all sponsored by Toyota.

Union Park, at the intersection of Ashland and Lake, is accessible via the Ashland and Madison buses as well as Green Line and Pink Line trains, both of which stop right at the park. The Reader's Biker Village at Ashland and Warren will offer free secured bicycle parking, air for tires, lube for chains, water, hand-washing stations, and information from a dozen cycling-advocacy groups. The Standard Parking lot at 1640 W. Jackson, four blocks south and a bit west of the park, is giving discounts to festgoers.

Gates open at 3 PM on Friday and at noon on Saturday and Sunday; the festival ends each night at 10 PM. Multiday passes and single-day tickets for Saturday and Sunday have been sold out for some time, and Friday tickets will likely sell out before the fest begins. Unless you've had your tickets mailed to you, you'll need to pick them up at will call, near the box office on the Ashland side of the park; it opens at 1 PM on Friday and 11 AM on Saturday and Sunday. On Thursday between 11 AM and 6 PM, a limited number of single-day tickets for each day will be available for cash-only purchase ($40) on a first-come, first-served basis.

The festival is all-ages, and admission is free for children under ten accompanied by an adult. Reentry is prohibited, as are outside food and drink, professional-quality cameras, audio and video recording devices, tents, musical instruments, and pets. Cameras with nondetachable lenses are permitted, as are small or midsize backpacks and bags, sealed bottles of water, and folding chairs.

Pitchfork's recycling plan for the festival includes 80 single-stream recycling containers on the grounds as well as a recycling store, where festgoers can exchange certain recyclables for T-shirts, posters, and other swag. The three stages will be powered by biodiesel-burning generators, and official festival transportation will be provided by a fleet of hybrid Zipcars.

The festival reliably spawns a whole ecosystem of off-site events, only a few of which are formally sanctioned by Pitchfork. A free official pre-party Thursday night at Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake, features performances by Neon Indian and Dam-Funk and DJ sets by El-P and others (RSVP at uptheantics.com/pitchfork). Several more Pitchfork artists—Liars, Local Natives, Delorean, Best Coast, Real Estate—play club shows in town this weekend, and they're noted on the schedule that follows. Two Saturday shows by festival acts—Here We Go Magic and Sharon Van Etten at Schubas and Bear in Heaven at Lincoln Hall—are half-price with proof of Pitchfork admission, as is Lincoln Hall's Friday show with Ninjasonik.

Rory Lake's Karaoke Dreams at the Hideout on Saturday is free for festival attendees (and the hot dogs are free too). Just north of Union Park at Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland, local metal bands Czar and Mara play a free show on Friday night. The Abbey Pub's Saturday-night release party for the new Touch and Go book, with Tesco Vee's Hate Police (see the List), White Flag, and Das Kapital, is $10 instead of $14 for Pitchforkers, and the club's Sunday-night show, headlined by Cains and Abels, is half off if you're coming from the fest. Local mashup producers the Hood Internet headline a Friday event at the Darkroom, 2210 W. Chicago, that they're calling Dickfork. The Bitchpork festival at the Mortville space in Lawndale runs Friday through Sunday, with an ambitious three-stage lineup that features more acts than Pitchfork itself—among them Cacaw, Peaking Lights, John Bellows, Cheer-Accident, Psychedelic Horseshit, and White Mystery. (More info is available at the Bitchpork Last.fm page.) If past years are anything to go by, this is only a sampling of the afterfest action—keep your eyes peeled at Union Park and you're sure to see people promoting "secret shows" at all sorts of quasi-legal venues. —MR

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