You've been ready for Pitchfork ever since the lineup was announced, but what about the rest of the fest? The event's organizers have always taken enormous strides to bring you the music scene in its entirety—and it runs way deeper than what you see on the stages. What about the folks who put out the records, the artists printing up the posters and the always-adjacent DIY scene? We've scoured the booths of the fests-within-the-Fest for can't-miss Chicago vendors. Our picks:
The enormous open-air mall arranged by the American Poster Institute returns to the Pitchfork Fest with dozens of leading poster artists in tow. Now's the chance to nab those limited-edition prints you've had your eye on, chat up the best of the best for screen-printing tips and kick yourself for not recognizing posters as high art until now. Although the national concert-poster community has experienced a recent revival, Chicagoans still do it better, so don't miss these locals:
Jay Ryan, The Bird Machine
Jay Ryan's been in the poster game since 1995, honing his screen-printing chops by creating promotional masterpieces for his friends' gigs, and his own band, Dianogah. He started The Bird Machine in the basement of his apartment building and has since become one of the most prolific artists in the biz, having designed posters for just about every band, venue, publication and festival in town—including every Pitchfork incarnation.
Kathleen Judge, Judgeworks
A poster artist since 2000, Kathleen Judge uses an oddball technique to get her unique look: she first chisels her images onto scratchboard, which resembles a woodcut, and then she gets to screen-printing. The results are intricately detailed, gorgeously colored and chock-full of texture. You've seen her work on promotions for Schubas and the Hideout, not to mention on every Neko Case poster in the past few years.
Dan MacAdam, Crosshair
It's worth wandering past MacAdam's booth just to catch a glimpse of his breathtaking new Wilco series, but if you need more reasons, how about photo-realistic posters for Queens of the Stone Age, Daniel Johnston and The Gutter Twins? He's been in the game since '96, and his style is easy to spot; many of his pieces feature photos of industrial buildings against prairie landscapes, the show information cleverly peaking out from some graffitied wall.
Want more poster art? Check out "Busted Amp," which runs through July 23 at Columbia College's A + D Gallery
Ever wonder how Chicago's music scene got so big? Give thanks to your friendly neighborhood indie labels
; many will be manning booths at Chicago Independent Radio Project's Record Fair. This is your chance to buy hard-to-find albums, bump elbows with the folks who discovered your favorite bands, and get the inside scoop on what's coming up. You should have time to visit everyone, but don't forget to say hi to our faves:
Thrill Jockey may have started in Manhattan, but these music-savvy folks quickly moved to where the real music scene is: Chicago. They've been here since '95, and boy have they been busy: look for recent releases from Thalia Zedek, the Boredoms and Pontiak at their CHIRP booth. They'll also be hawking loads of label merch—from tote bags to t-shirts—and of course, plenty of goodies from their two festival bands, Extra Golden and High Places. Be sure to ask about the upcoming albums from the Fiery Furnaces, Angela Desveaux and Pit er Pat, as well as the awesome new split from Pontiak and Arbouretum.
Touch and Go
Founded during the heyday of hardcore, this Chicago label has been doling out influential alt-rock since the early '80s. Bands like Shellac, Slint, Dirty Three, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and !!! all grew up here, and recent releases aren't too shabby either: Look for new albums by Cocorosie, Dead Child and Peter Moren. If you're nice they might tell you all about the upcoming projects from Ugly Suit (August), Calexico (September) and the long-awaited new Black Heart Procession (early '09).
On the eve of its 20th birthday (in '09), this longtime Chicago imprint knows no genre lines; its artists range from nu-folkers like Joanna Newsom and Will Oldham to axe-wielding rockers like the Fucking Champs. At its CHIRP booth, be sure to nab a copy of the recently released Silver Jews (it's like nothing you've ever heard), as well as new stuff from Bonnie Prince Billy and the recently unearthed Children of the Sixth Root Race (aka The Source Family). Don't forget to chat about the goodies on the horizon; releases from Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh, The Red Krayola and Faun Fables are on the way.
For more info on these and other Chicago record labels, check out The Windy City on Wax.
The good folks at Pitchfork understand that music and DIY culture go hand-in-hand, so every year they clear a huge amount of real estate for the DEPART-ment craft fair to come and do their thing. From warped-record fruit bowls to cork-crate belt buckles, this all-volunteer bazaar has all the home-made sundries you can stand. When you need to catch some shade, head into the tent and check out this year's most exciting crafters:
Katie Johansson, Dollybird Designs
Johansson has been peddling her innovative baubles at every Pitchfork Music Festival to date. This Bucktown artist handcrafts metalsmith jewelry, like free-formed sterling flower rings, fossil pendants and cubed-Pyrite earrings. As beloved as she is in Chicago, she's even bigger in Japan; the popular Japanese magazine, flashfilm, recently ran a huge feature on Johansson's inventive wares, and now Dollybird trinkets are rather coveted overseas.
Scott Sullivan, Automatik Homegoods
Here's one Chicagoan who likes digging through the garbage. Not that we blame him—if we could have figured out a way to make a gorgeous lamp from re-purposed auto parts we'd head to the dump, too. Sullivan's interior-decor series includes lamps, bookends and furniture built from rusty transmissions, shift gears and used clutches. Industrial-chic and eco-savvy? It's no wonder the Wall Street Journal's Style section can't get enough of him. This will be his first booth at the Pitchfork Fest, so be nice!
Michelle Quick, Casual Service
This recent Art Institute grad has been on the DEPART-ment roster for awhile, so you've probably already swooned over her crocheted necklaces and zippered pouches, but this year she's got her foot in something new: um, shoes. Simple t-strap sandals in leather or vegan materials are almost too adorable. On the horizon for Quick and her company, Casual Service, which she runs with college roomie Dara Cahill: handmade Victorian-inspired boots.
Need a dose of craftiness, but can't wait until the next DEPART-ment event? Head to Renegade Handmade or the new Andersonville Galleria
Looking for more Pitchfork? Study up with our guides to the can't-miss bands and food booths, and get all the tips you need to survive the weekend.