Sunday, July 19, 2009


I wasn't even going to bother with Pitchfork until I happened into a free ticket yesterday and thought, 'Why not?'

I spent four hours wandering around Union Park, a typically calm patch of green space adjacent to a building where I worked 10 years ago and spent many a lunch hour in relative solitude. Not so this weekend. The place was teeming with kids looking for their marathon indie rock fix. And beer. Lots of beer. Me, not so much. I was hoping for just a little something that might make my ears perk up with attention. But there was such a continuity from band to band -- a kind of been-there/done-that quality that left me feeling hollow. The real action had apparently come the night before, when a quadruple bill that included Tortoise, Yo La Tengo, Jesus Lizard, and Built to Spill was billed anecdotally as the "old-timers' show." But the old timer in me had worked that night and was happily at home under the covers by 10.

The whole thing got me thinking about a festival we attended last Saturday -- one close enough to home that we could decide to break down our yard sale at 2, squirrel all the unsold merchandise and display tables away in the basement, and still make it to the festival site by 3.

The Tour de Fat (sponsored by Fat Tire beer) rolls into various towns throughout the summer and celebrates bicycle culture. While I'm not generally a fan of branded events, this one has a good mission and ended up raising over $20,000 for a local nonprofit that teaches disadvantaged kids to ride and fix bikes.

The festival also has a certain bacchanalian quality. When we arrived, a guy was being paraded through the crowd in a makeshift carriage hoisted on the shoulders of four men. Why? Because he'd agreed to trade in his car for a brand new bike, which was lowered down to him on pulleys from the top of the glittering stage.

From there, the amazing punk rock marching band Mucca Pazza stole the show. The entire thing was over by 4pm, and in my single hour, I had more lived experience than I did in four full hours at Pitchfork. I think it's because this particular festival was actually about something, and that's what this particular old-timer is looking for in a cultural occasion these days.


Christy said...

What I was looking for and didn't find at Pitchfork Saturday surfaced in spades on Sunday. Here's a splendid clip of Dianogah doing a tribute to Stephanie Morris, who the world lost too soon. Watch for cameos by the Spinanes Rebecca Gates, lovely visual artist (and birder) Diana Sudyka, most excellent film producer Xan Aranda, half-pint twins Arthur and Clive Harvey, and Nonagon's (and my very own) John Hastie:

Rosemary said...

I'm all for festivals that run from 2-4 p.m. Long enough to feel like you've had a good experience, but not so long that you wonder what else you might be doing that you'd enjoy more (like sleeping, for example).

O, how I miss New Belgium. Their brewery was just a short drive from my house in Colorado, and it was always fun to go over there to taste the weird in-house only beers they were brewing, and to pick up a growler of something tasty. And the fact that they're totally wind-powered was a plus. Glad to know they're making a foray east of the Mississippi now!

leslie said...

Fat Tire sponsored a "bike rodeo" at the Wakarusa Fest last year, with all kinds of weird, mutant bikes you could ride. It was gobs of fun. Pretty amazing stuff.

Berdawn said...

So sad that Columbus was not one of the cities for the Fat Tire event.

Berdawn said...

So sad that Columbus was not one of the cities for the Fat Tire event.

LazyMF said...

The Jesus Lizard is still performing? I saw them in Houston years ago. They walked on stage and stared at the audience. The lead singer hoiked up a giant loogi and lobbed it into the mosh pit area. When it hit the ground they started playing. Much more creative than a 1-2-3 on the drumsticks.