While you're reading this, I'm en route to Chicago, where I'll take a long hard look at 2010's indie-rock zeitgeist at the annual Pitchfork Music Festival. Because I'm traveling by motor vehicle, it should be known to any artist performing before 6 p.m. that my eight-hour drive will likely thwart any attempt I may make to catch you doing whatever it is you do. That said, after spending hours of my life that I will never get back traversing the beautiful, burgeoning, state of Indiana, I'm gonna be in the mood for some goddamn entertainment. Pitchfork artists, if you disappoint me, I'll be very, very liberal in how I dole out ego-blows and take-downs in my post-festival report. Don't rest on your laurels of being Pitchfork-approved artists. Don't make me have to show you the meaning of pain. Let's make a deal: If you rock hard, I'll rock out. Let's do this!
Allow me to address some of you individually:
Michael Showalter: You've split my sides with your bon mots for 16 years now. If we'd had a child together, he/she'd be breaking our hearts by wrapping their starter car around a tree, trying meth for the first time and running away from home by now. I can't think of anything funnier than that, but I bet you can. Hopefully I'll make it there in time to see you.
Broken Social Scene: There was this one time, in college, when you almost got me laid. How 'bout givin' it a second shot?
Modest Mouse: You've never been the greatest live band, but you were always a pretty good live band. In 1999 I had few prized possessions. Among them were all your albums and a bong. Today, I still own all the albums, but I no longer own the bong. So I guess that proves I just can't let you go. We've stayed together this long. Show me there's still magic between us.
El-P: You make great records, but you're a hip-hop artist, and that makes me worry that your stage show will be unfocused, disjointed and disappointing. Please, don't let that be the case if you can help it. (Hint: You can help it.) Capitalize on the lowered expectations brought to me courtesy of your predecessors.
Liars: I'd like to see you guys today, I really would, but you're playing at Exit/In next week, and that's closer to my house than Chicago is. Please excuse me if I don't risk life and limb on the interstate to get there in time to make your set. Break a leg, though.
Real Estate: My energy was pretty well spent by the time I saw you guys on the final night of SXSW, so I'm pretty excited to see you while I'm more aware. The more I listen to your self-titled debut the the more I like it. It's not as good as Springsteen's first record, or the Misfits' first record, but since — like them — you're from New Jersey, I'm optimistic you'll reach even greater heights in the years to come. I also won't hold it against you that Bon Jovi is from New Jersey. I've seen Bon Jovi now, and I'm just about convinced that band is from hell.
Kurt Vile: You're the act I'm most curious to check out this weekend, and I really hope that makes you feel special. Special enough to bring it fucking hard. Should I dose before you play? Or will it be too much to handle? Because every time I spin your record Childish Prodigy, it's like I'm iDosing. You're the only "freak folk" artist who actually freaks me out when I listen to you. Sorry about all that guilt-by-association talk that follows you around — you don't sound like Fleet Foxes. That band sat down while they played Pitchfork in '08, so why don't you stand up and show me what you're made of?
Raekwon: You kinda screwed the pooch when I saw you at Pitchfork '08, so if you're blowing it by the second song, I'm off to the other stages.
John Spencer Blues Explosion: Hey guys, it's been a minute, hasn't it? What would a Saturday at a music festival be without a little nostalgia? Sure, I'll let you back into my life for another hour. But only as long as you promise to play "Bell Bottoms" — because you guys go on a 5:15 p.m. and I'll DEFINITELY be drunk enough to air-drum by then.
Wolf Parade: Of all the wolf bands, I think I might like you best. It's time to the seal the deal.
Bear in Heaven: Grizzly Bear are bigger band than you, but are they better? Consider that a challenge. Actually, I think you guys are playing at the same as Panda Bear. If so, I'll be watching that instead. Sorry guys, but in today's indie-rock hierarchy, a dude who's actually in Animal Collective trumps any artist with an animal in their band name. It's the rules. My hands are tied.
Panda Bear: You're not out of the woods yet. You could very easily lose me half way in and send me packing to go over and check out Bear in Heaven. Even if they're done by then, I'd bet the farm on the odds that another band with an animal in their name is playing on a side stage somewhere. The whippersnappers are hot on your tail. Now is your time to defend the throne, because next thing you know, Plants and Animals will become as big as Alicia Keys and you'll be standin' there, holding the bag and lamenting how critics are calling you the Lauryn Hill of indie rock.
LCD Soundsystem: You guys really made the molly kick in at Bonnaroo last month. Whatever it was you were doing, just do it again, but more, and harder, and you'll have me for life. What's that you say? This is your last tour? Well, I did hear talk that you might stop and see me in NASHVILLE before you ride off into the sunset. Hopefully, that'll be the NEXT time I see you, and oh, what be a BIG deal it'll be.
Pavement: I'm sure you guys are reading this right now. From me, this weekend is basically a Pavement concert with three days worth of opening acts. Thanks for tappin' the hot talent, bra-hams. Do you remember when you met me in 1997? I was the dork wearing the Pavement shirt. I was acting like a dork and talking about Pavement. You signed my ticket- tub and gave me some fudge-covered potato chips outside The Hollywood Palace. I said, "Good show" and you said, "Thanks." I remember that like it was yesterday, so I'm sure you must remember it too, right? I mean, my memory is kind of good, but you guys are perfect. You're a perfect band, who made perfect music and a perfect decision to reunite. So don't be shy and forget to say "hi" to me. I'll be one of the people in the audience. Sure, it ain't The 5 Spot, but my odds of getting to hear you play "Kentucky Cocktail" or "Give It a Day," or any of your original compositions, are a little better this time around.
Sleigh Bells: Instead of seeing your show in Nashville last week as I was lying in bed, watching Fatal Attraction (edited for television) while fighting off a head cold that was more aggressive than Mel Gibson on a late-night phone call. My head felt like it was in a vice and my NyQuil hallucinations were more terrifying than the series finale of Twin Peaks. If watching your live show is a better experience than that, then we're in business.
Beach House: I like your music. A lot. It makes me kind of sad though. If you play it really, really well, then I might cry. And that will me make happy. Give me some of that emotional catharsis, Beach House.
Here We Go Magic: I didn't pay close enough attention to you when I saw you open for the Walkmen last year. That was a huge, huge fuck-up on my part, because now I've heard both your records, and they rule. Since it remains to be seen, whether or not I will end up on weird psychotropic drugs while you play, do your part to hypnotize me with your ethereal sonic landscapes and toe-tappin' melodies.
St. Vincent: I think we had a few classes together at Berklee. I was probably the dude you had a massive crush on. I like the way you sing and play guitar and stuff. If you see me, it won't make me feel awkward if you wanna come up and say "hi."
Neon Indian: For whatever reason, your music reminds me of Vince Clarke-era Depeche Mode. I think you should ask Martin Gore to join you in writing songs. Great things could happen. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing what I missed at Bonnaroo.
Lightning Bolt: I've never actually you play on a stage. I'm not really sure I want to see you play on a stage. How am I gonna bleed on you that way?
Surfer Blood: You guys are young AND you're from Florida. Yet, you sound nothing like Limp Bizkit, Creed, LFO, Saigon Kick or any combination thereof. I think that's utterly astounding. You guys dodge bullets better than Bob Marley. I'm giving you a handicap.
Big Boi: I'm almost ashamed to say it, but save for the single, I haven't yet heard you're hot new release that dropped last week. The way I figure, if it's really as good as people are saying it is, I'll be hearing it everywhere I go for the next year or so, but I'll pop my cherry on it a P4K, so make it sound goooooooood.
To all you other bands playing, I'll simply reiterate: Rock hard, and I'll rock out! Now let's drink some Old Style!