Pitchfork’s Music Festival is back this summer, and the initial lineup has been announced, with headliners including Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, TV on the Radio and the reunited Dismemberment Plan.
PFMF (nobody calls it that, but I will) runs Jul 15-17 in Chicago’s Union Park, same as 2010. Tickets go on sale, well, now (1 p.m. EST) for three-day passes and single day, which fans should note: this puppy sold out FAST last year, and that was before event the full schedule was out.
Other acts include HitFix faves Cut Copy, Deerhunter, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Destroyer and all of indie’s favorite fellated object James Blake.
Out of morbid curiousity, I did some searches.
Animal Collective’s last three albums were given a 9.6, 9.3 and 9.0 on the site.
Fleet Foxes’ sole full-length Sub Pop release, the self-titled 2008 set, got a 9.0.
TV on the Radio: 9.2, 9.1 and 7.8 (!!). (The band’s most-superior EP “Young Liars” back in 2003 got a 8.9, phew.)
Dismemberment Plan’s “Emergency & I” reissue got a brain-melting 10.0, curiously after a reviewer famously issued a great big goose-egg to its frontman Travis Morrison’s solo effort in 2004.
By and large, the other acts that aren’t these headlining names have lower average scores on the whole.
I don’t think I have conclusions about this, though it does draw my attention back to an excellent interview Jim DeRogatis did with Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber, about the integrity of the site and music criticism in accordance with its entertainment offshoots.
Q. Wait a minute, Ryan: Pitchfork has gotten to a position over the last 12 years where it has a lot of power now; I think you’re aware of that, and you and I have talked about that before. If Pitchfork champions a band, that 9.4 rating means something -- it means a lot. Now, what band is going to deny you the right to videotape them and show that content for free on Pitchfork.tv if it’s worried about not getting a good review on the Web site? What band is going to say no to playing the festival, even if it has a better offer somewhere else, and what band is going to reject letting you include them on a videogame soundtrack?
A. I don’t know; I guess there are potential… You can see potential conflicts of interest in a lot of different things. Any time one kind of company starts another kind of company or something like that, there is always this sort of potential for it being a slippery slope. I mean, I have a lot of faith in our integrity to sort of not necessarily succumb to any of that kind of stuff. Like I always say, we’re very honest and straightforward about the way that we approach things, and we try to be very above the table about anything like that. I guess people can read into it… If you wanted to read into it like that, I supposed there are always things people could find…
Q. O.K. But what if Animal Collective was a headliner of the Pitchfork Music Festival, and they said, “No, we don’t want you to film any of our concerts.” And whoever was chosen to review their next EP gave it a 1 out of 10 on your rating scale. Would you have any problem with those three things overlapping?
A. I mean, they would have to be completely… Two of those things would never occur as a result of one or the other. You know? Because again, as I said, it’s very separate. People are always going to try and theorize about these things. But the fact is we do take these things into account and everything that is up on our site is very genuinely sincere. You can use the same argument for, “If X record label doesn’t advertise and suddenly you give their records a 0” -- that’s the same thing. It’s a matter of just defining things and separating things from one another so that they don’t interfere.
Organizers of the festival seem to maintain the event’s independence, and Pitchfork doesn’t exactly issue number ratings for live shows. Plus, availability factors in, and the fest is still curating to the site’s readers’ interest.
So maybe the fest curators have the same opinion of those artists as the site's curators do. And it could be that it’s a little bit of the kingmaking echo chamber, that the headlining bands are the best bands because their albums are better than others’ because we say so.
I haven’t been to Pitchfork yet, and I hear it’s a blast and somewhat up my alley. It will sell out, and the promise alone of Odd Future and Das Racist antics may be enough. With names still left to be revealed, I give it a
6.4 9.1 7.8.