The seventh annual Pitchfork Music Festival descends upon the Windy City tonight, transforming Chicago’s Union Park into a brouhaha of jorts, matted down grass, industrial stink ovens and the occasional band or two. Tickets? Check. Sunblock? Check. Drinking canned beer from plastic cups over the last week to adequately increase your elbow dexterity? Check. Yet, what’s there to do in Chicago when you’re not hanging with hipsters in the park? We’ve crafted a list that will give you a stellar taste of the city without all the festival madness.
1. Get drunk like a local
There are only so many overpriced beers one can chug before total wallet implosion. Head out of the festival to local watering hole The Map Room, a bar decorated with old National Geographic magazines that features over 200 types of beer. In Wicker Park, you’ll find Rainbow Club, a go-to local dive bar known for cheap prices, good music and pinball machines. A bar you’ll never forget going to is The Violet Hour; it has a Prohibition Era vibe: no signage outside, no flatscreens or loud music inside, lots of curtains, tall furniture, and signature cocktails that will knock you flat on your ass.
2. Too hip for Pitchfork, too alt for a keyboard
If you need the best new music like a donut needs another hole, there are a couple of other festivals in town just for you. Bitchpork provides three evenings of energetic noise rock featuring underground local and national talent. Similarly, the Hood Internet are hosting Dickfork 3.0 Saturday night at the Darkroom. (Have fun Googling that one!)
3. Arts, Crafts and Artist’s Crafts
Pitchfork isn’t just about the music, but about the independent artist scene at large. Located on the tennis courts in Union Park, Coterie Chicago will set up shop featuring unique crafts – from jewelry to handmade soap – fashioned by Chicago’s finest local artisans. You can also support local (and national) indie record labels too, since the Chirp Record Fair will be around all weekend, shelling out delicious deals on vinyl and other swag.
4. Food tent fail, Chicago chow
Paying top dollar for carnival food probably isn’t your favorite pastime, so follow your nose to Chicago All Fired Up when you leave the festival grounds. Considered Chicago’s first food truck, Chicago All Fired Up will be around the Union Park area all weekend serving up some of the city’s best BBQ/rib combo around. There’s also the good ole country cookin’ of Feed around the corner, but be sure to come hungry and BYOB. No trip to Chicago is complete without grabbing a taco at Big Star. $3 whiskey shots, need we say more?
5. More Illinoise please
You don’t need a ticket to the festival to hear great new music, premiere Chicago venue Schuba’s has a terrific weekend schedule lined up including John Maus, Twin Sister, Yuck, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sun Airway, and PS I Love You. If you just wanna dance, hit up Beauty Bar for $5 on Saturday featuring DJ sets by Deerhunter, Ariel Pink and Twin Shadow.