Seasoned Pitchfork Music Festival-goer shares his best tips

Enhance your Pitchfork experience with valuable tips, like finding your new favorite artist at the Blue Stage.

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A festival goer smiles as Ric Wilson performs on the first day of Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park in the Near West Side, Friday, July 21, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

As thousands of music enthusiasts gear up for the 17th annual Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park, we sat down with Jim Montes, a festival regular, to get the inside scoop on what attendees can expect — plus some valuable tips for new festival-goers.

Jim Montes is a devoted Pitchfork festival-goer, and has attended almost every festival since 2006, totaling 15.

For Montes, the Pitchfork Music Festival is a cherished yearly pilgrimage that he said introduces him to new artists and fuels his passion for music discovery, making it an unmissable event on his calendar.

“I would say it’s generally a positive vibe. You know, it’s crowded, it’s hot, but it’s a positive,” Montes said.

For those new to the festival scene, Montes emphasized the importance of staying hydrated, eating, and taking breaks to rest.

He stressed the significance of listening to your body — the festival’s excitement can lead to long periods of standing and dancing, so it’s important to pace yourself and use water refill stations to combat the hot weather.

Montes’ veteran tip is to explore the lesser-known attractions within the festival grounds, including the Blue Stage.

“There’s two large main stages, I believe it’s the Green and the Red Stage,” Montes said. “But over to the side there’s a smaller area which is the Blue Stage and that’s often where I discover stuff that I might not have heard of.”

While the Green Stage and Red Stage host more prominent names, the Blue Stage features more experimental and lesser-known acts.

Choosing which bands to see can be daunting, given the diverse lineup. Montes suggested researching beforehand, listening to sample tracks, and listing must-see acts.

He also emphasized the beauty of discovery, taking the time to check out unknown bands and experiencing their music with an open mind.

As for avoiding long lines, Montes advised arriving early to secure a good spot for performances and to beat the rush for things like water refill stations. He also emphasized being considerate of others in the crowd and respecting personal space to maintain a positive festival experience for everyone.

With phone signal congestion common at large festivals, Montes advises using pre-planning meeting spots with friends to stay connected and keeping an open mind when access to the internet becomes limited. The focus should be on the music and the immersive experience rather than relying solely on mobile devices.

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