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Preview: Pitchfork Music Festival ’11

For six years, Pitchfork Media has been throwing a mid-summer bash in their hometown of Chicago with the goal of making a comfortable and affordable party, while still offering the best summer festival line-up around. It sounds lofty, but they did it, and they have done it every year since. Striking a balance between just below the radar acts, the up and comers, the newly notable, and independent music royalty. And they do it all for the absolute bottom price. This festival shames its expensive, inconvenient colleagues. Annually.

Take the line-up on just the “Blue Stage” on the first day of this year’s festival, Friday, July 15th. Dark, electronic, duo Gatekeeper open things up, to be followed by the looping, ukulele folk-punk world-beat darling, tUnE-YarDs. Then, the stage shifts to Curren$y, of Lil Wayne’s YMCMB label, followed by Brooklyn joke-rappers turned still-funny but credible actual rappers Das Racist. The Blue stage caps the opening day off with British dub-step wonderboy, new indie royalty, James Blake, who’s haunting, futuristic balladry will cap this stage off strangely. And perfectly. And that’s just one of the secondary stages. The main stage will only see 3 acts the first night, but they are also quite varied, in status as well as sound. The proggy and raucous Battles, alt elder-statesmen Guided By Voices, and indie royalty Animal Collective will command the “Green” stage, the festival’s main platform.

The festival also welcomes other legends, including art-rock super-hero Thurston Moore (supporting his fantastic new Beck-produced solo album) as well as Washington D.C.’s The Dismemberment Plan, supporting the Barsuk reissue of their seminal masterpiece, Emergency & I. Prolific festival favorites Deerhunter will also be joining the pack, supporting their newest, the brilliant Halcyon Digest.

There are a great many artists on this year’s line-up who are new to the radar and/or new to indie’s elite. I am not going to name very many of them, but a few who I am particularly excited to see are…
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