Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pitchfork Notes

Last year's Pitchfork had the narrowest demographics of any concert or public event I can remember. It seemed like the entire crowd was an army of 28-year-old baristas or vegan tattoo artists. Not only were Nan and I oddballs, but my daughters (aged 17 and 14 at the time) also missed the demographic ideal by more than a decade.

This year the crowd seemed more diverse. I saw some older folks, and some young parents brought their kids. One memorable sighting was a young dad carrying two beers while balancing a 15-month old on his arm. The kid was happily plunging his fist into one of the beers, then shaking his hand. Dad looked pained but resigned.

Later, during the middle of the set by Hold Steady, I feel a light pressure on the back on my legs. I turn around and there's a 312 beach ball wedged between my calves and the footrest of the guy's wheelchair behind me. I pick up the ball and it's vibrating. All kinds of ideas flit through my mind--the ball's deflating in a wobbly way; there's something electronic--or a bug??--inside the ball. My puzzlement must have been showing; this woman behind me puts her hand and on the ball. "It's a beach ball," she says in the kind of voice kindergarten teachers use for their behind-the-curve kids. "You throw it." She pantomimes throwing the ball in the air. Just when I decide that the ball is vibrating in response to the bass, she takes the ball from hands with an exasperated expression and slaps it into the air. She really wanted it to be a learning experience for me.

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