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For Pitchfork Music Festival’s best views, fans waited for hours

Girl Band performs Saturday at the Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Station. | Talia Beechick / Sun-Times

For Tina Klementzos of Oak Park, seeing Sufjan Stevens perform at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival Saturday was going to be deeply personal experience.

Tina Klementzos enjoying the Pitchfork Music Festival Saturday at Union Park. | Talia Beechick / Sun-Times
Tina Klementzos enjoying the Pitchfork Music Festival Saturday at Union Park. | Talia Beechick / Sun-Times

“My grandma passed away, and his album really hit me,,” Klementzos, 28, said of the indie-folk musician’s “Seven Swans.” “It really helped me. He’s amazing. He’s going through similar stuff, too.”

Klementzos, 28, was one of the first to enter Union Park when the gates opened at noon Saturday, ready to spend the rest of the day perched at the edge of the festival’s green stage in anticipation of Stevens’ 8:30 p.m. performance.

She was one of many who played the waiting game at Pitchfork’s three stages to make sure they had the best view for a favorite performer. It was tough, though, for Klementzos not to see British indie-electronic musician Dev Hynes, also known as Blood Orange, who performed Saturday on the festival’s red stage. But she wasn’t budging.

“I’m parking it,” Klementzos said, laughing. “I’m not moving anywhere. I had a couple of protein bars before this. I’m set.”

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Now in its 11th year, Pitchfork opened Friday and runs through Sunday, featuring more than 40 bands.

But the only one Nicole Reyes, 19, and Sylvester Tran, 20, had to see was Blood Orange.

“I ate a big salad from Panera,” said Tran, who attends Purdue University’s pharmacy school and arrived at noon to snag a front-row view.

It was Reyes’ and Tran’s first music festival and also their first time seeing Blood Orange — well, beside his brief surprise appearance with pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen at Pitchfork the night before.

How would they last more than five hours in the summer heat without relinquishing their prime spot?

“Hydrate,” Reyes said, motioning to the three bottles of water beside her. “I ate a big breakfast — waffles and eggs.”

To get a front-row perch, Nicole Reyes, 19, and Sylvester Tran, 20, were prepared to wait more than five hours to see Blood Orange perform at Pitchfork. | Talia Beechick / Sun-Times
To get a front-row perch, Nicole Reyes, 19, and Sylvester Tran, 20, were prepared to wait more than five hours to see Blood Orange perform at Pitchfork. | Talia Beechick / Sun-Times

For Michelle Rentauskas, 18, waiting more than eight hours for Stevens to perform was a small price. The University of Illinois freshman was planning on skipping her high school prom to see him perform at Metro before a friend asked her to the dance.

“He’s a really good family friend, so I couldn’t say no to him,” Rentauskas said. “So I went to prom with this boy, but the whole time I was, like, ‘I wish I was seeing Sufjan Stevens.’ It was awful!”

Rentauskas has been a fan for years, favoring Stevens’ 2005 “Illinois” album and, in particular, the song “Casimir Pulaski Day.”

Still, she was thinking about getting up to get a bite to eat.

Klementzos, though, was adamant she was going to sit tight and keep her front-row view no matter the cost.

“I have water here, too,” Klementzos said. “I don’t want to be one of those people who faints before the show.”