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Pitchfork Festival 2011: HuffPost Chicago's Guide (VIDEOS)

Huffington Post     First Posted: 07/14/11 04:20 PM ET   Updated: 09/13/11 06:12 AM ET

Well, Chicago music obsessors, that time of year has come again as the seventh annual Pitchfork Music Festival kicks off Friday afternoon at Union Park.

Celebrated since its inaugural endeavor as a more affordable, smaller, less fratboy-packed alternative to the city's gargantuan music party, which we'll leave unnamed, held a few weeks later each year in Grant Park, the Pitchfork festival has managed to walk a careful line between consistently improving its lineups' reach, while keeping crowds manageable and ticket prices relatively reasonable.

This year's lineup is no exception and, perhaps due to some complaints of certain indie darlings (see: Panda Bear, the Tallest Man on Earth) delivering slightly snoozy live shows at least year's festival, it is apparent that the Pitchfork crew has curated a crew of musical talents that skews toward the energetic or enigmatic.

And that excitement factor has contributed to perhaps the closest thing to a crisis that the festival organizers' public relations team has encountered in its history: Their booking of controversial hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) was the catalyst for a coalition of anti-violence, women's and LGBT groups to organize an advocacy campaign around the festival. As of last week, festival organizers partnered with the coalition and granted them space on the festival grounds to distribute hand fans as well as free ad space on their website.

Despite the attention the Odd Future booking flap has received in recent weeks, it is doubtful the issue will be on the minds of many music fans on the grounds this weekend. The festival's evening-closing headliners -- Animal Collective (Friday), Fleet Foxes (Saturday) and TV on the Radio (Sunday) -- are sure to attract their respective followings, and rightfully so: This writer vividly recalls the trippy scene the last time AnCo graced Pitchfork with their trademark jungle-psych-trip-pop. It's definitely an experience worthy of anyone's bucket list.

The three bands ending each nights' festivities hold the unique advantage of playing the majority of their set without other artists playing concurrently on other stages. The rest of the 40+ bands taking to the stage this weekend don't share that privilege. Since we can only be in one place at one time, HuffPost Chicago wanted to follow up on our previous festival preview to lay out our analysis of five of the most perplexing artist showdowns.

Be sure to let us know who you're looking forward to seeing yourselves and keep an eye on HuffPost Chicago for daily Pitchfork updates. You can also follow @robojojo on Twitter for festival updates throughout the weekend.

And, finally, if you're attending the festival, send your photos to chicago@huffingtonpost.com and we will add them to our Pitchfork slideshow. Be sure to include your name and personal website so we can link back. Tickets for the festival are still available for Friday and Saturday, though you'll have to look to Craigslist or elsewhere to nab sold-out three-day passes or Sunday tickets.

EMA vs. Gatekeeper
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The showdowns begin right off the bat, as half-local electronic duo Gatekeeper (one of the few Chicago-based musicians playing this year's fest) begin their set on the side Blue stage at 3:20 p.m. Friday, a mere ten minutes before the Patti Smith or Kate Bush-styled drone-fuzz performer Erika M. Anderson ("EMA") takes to the Red stage. Both acts promise to kick the festival off in a far less sleepy manner than last year's edition, and we're pumped to see both acts. Gatekeeper's music recalls the ominous and haunting scores of classic horror cinema, while EMA's tunes, like the anthemic "California," are shiver-inducing, in a good way.
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