Festival season is in full swing in Chicago. Every weekend in the summer, there are multiple food, music, and art festivals all over the city. Each one is crafted and curated to be unique. Whether it is being solely devoted to one type of food (Rib Fest, Burger Fest, Vegan Fest), a type of music (Square Roots Folk Festival), or just serving as a cultural neighborhood institution (Do Division Fest), there is something for everybody.
Frankly, I used to enjoy street festivals. This is probably because, prior to Chicago, I didn’t live in areas with an overabundance of street festivals. However, I don’t enjoy them so much now. Over the years, I have found that they are all really the same. If I’m with friends, I’ll go. Never would I go by myself unless I’m there for a specific purpose. For example, this past weekend, I was at Square Roots in Lincoln Square. I enjoy it because it is in my neighborhood, relatively small, and the crowd is great because it isn’t filled with drunk jackasses.
I think my increasing disinterest in street festivals has grown from my dislike of music festivals. Since college, I’ve never found myself interested in spending three or four days in a field surrounded by thousands of people barely watching a band the size of ants from my viewpoint. While everyone made plans to go to Bonnaroo, I stayed behind and enjoyed the quiet. Those kinds of things just aren’t my scene. And since moving to Chicago, even the logistical differences haven’t changed my outlook on festivals. Unlike Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza doesn’t require you to stay on their grounds the entire time. You can leave at the end of the day and sleep in a bed. Plus, you don’t have to sit in standstill traffic because an overcrowded train can take you to Lolla.
Despite my complaints about festivals, the only one that gets a pass from me is Pitchfork. I actually really enjoy Pitchfork. There’s a decent number of bands I actually know and would like to see, it isn’t overwhelmingly crowded, and there are other things that keep me interested in between bands. It is by no means a small, local festival. It is a large one that garners international attention and visitors. It is a large festival, but still small enough to where I don’t feel smothered.
This year’s Pitchfork lineup is really great. I’m eager to see George Clinton, the Feelies, A Tribe Called Quest, and PJ Harvey. However, the one act that has everyone buzzing is LCD Soundsystem.
I discovered LCD Soundsystem for myself while volunteering for college radio. Their 2010 studio release This Is Happening was put into rotation and I enjoyed the album thoroughly. While that album isn’t as good or revered as 2007’s Sound of Silver, This Is Happening is my favorite because it was the album that got me into the group. So, you can imagine my disappointment when, the next year, the band would breakup. I was just getting into them and eager to see where they were going!
Since I got into LCD Soundsystem a little later, I never got a chance to see them live. And I had heard they put on a great show. The closest I ever got was when I went to the theater to see their concert documentary film Shut Up and Play the Hits. Screened nationally for one night only on July 18, 2012, this was a look into the band’s final performance at Madison Square Garden. Since then, I just had to deal with the fact that the band existed within a certain time and space. After all, we all have shelf lives.
I’m always annoyed by bands were constantly break-up and the reunite. Or the bands who make a big deal about going on their farewell tour, but come back together a few years later as part of their comeback. It all just reeks of marketing cashing in. I just have a tough time taking an artist or group seriously after so much fuss is made about ending just to have them resurface. And I felt the same away about LCD Soundsystem. When they got back together and it was announced they would be headlining Pitchfork, I wasn’t that excited. All my friends were. They had either seen them live before and knew how great they performed or, like me, didn’t have a chance to see them before and now this was the time. However, I’m sitting on the sidelines being cynical. I paid money to see Shut Up and Play the Hits and got emotionally invested in their departure. And now they’ve come around and expect me to take them back into open arms? This back and forth relationship can’t go on. You have to stay or go.
Obviously, I’m having some fun at the band’s expense. Of course, I’m excited to see them perform at Pitchfork. I just had to get through a couple of eyerolls at this reuniting trend. Considering that a lot of acts go through that cycle to generate buzz and ticket sales, it can be hard to take them seriously. Once out of my system, I’m just as excited as everyone.
In fact, it was recently reported in Rolling Stone that David Bowie convinced James Murphy to reunite LCD Soundsystem (even in death, Bowie still influences our lives). In the article, Murphy talked about how uncomfortable it would be to get the band together and Bowie insisted that he should feel that way. The right decisions aren’t always the easiest. Murphy was going through an identity crisis and figuring out what he wanted to do. I get that. You should do what makes you happy. So, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on the guy for reuniting his band.
The show is Friday and I know it will be an amazing show. Despite my previous cynicism, I’m fully prepped and ready to have a great time seeing a great band with great friends. Going through changes or cycles is all part of living. My connection with them from a distance as a college radio DJ feels like ages ago. Now, I’ll be close to the action sharing an intimate concert experience. That’s worth something.
“Drunk Girls” was the song that introduced me to the band. It is a short, stupid song. However, it is fun and catchy. Even Murphy thinks the song is dumb and states that he “like[s] short, dumb stuff.” It serves its purpose by living in the moment and just having a good time. And that is what I plan to do Friday at my first, and probably last, LCD Soundystem show.