This year, the prime time slots go to the new elder statesmen of indie rock
Pavement at Pitchfork 2010 / Flickr user weeklydig
At 16 years of age, Pitchfork, the loved-and-loathed icon of new-millennium online music culture, is nearly all grown up. The reviews website launched out of editor Ryan Schreiber’s parents’ house back in 1995, and this weekend (starting this afternoon), the Chicago music festival it spawned in 2006 celebrates its fifth anniversary.
For a sign of the maturing nature of both Pitchfork and the culture it spawned, look no further than its festival’s lineup. As always, the bill is diverse, juxtaposing mid-level indie hit makers like Cut Copy, Destroyer, and Das Racist with brand-newcomers like Yuck, Toro Y Moi, and EMA. But the headliners—Animal Collective, TV on the Radio, and Fleet Foxes—suggest a different Festival than the one we’ve grown up with: one with less of a nostalgic tint, that can rely almost entirely on acts whose fame has been created and cultivated by Pitchfork itself.
In independent music, where followings are by definition relatively small, the idea of a headliner act is tricky. Who should be the final artist to play each night? Should it be the coolest band of this calendar year? Last? The band with the best-reviewed album? The one that most people know? The one that the fewest people know? The skinniest? The youngest? With an undercard as packed with artists of various obscurity levels, the headlining slots seem like they should be reserved for bands that everyone can agree on—as if such bands exist.