Given, I was only there for one day. But for a variety of reasons, the Touch and Go 25th anniversary slash Hideout Block Party was the most satisfying festival experience I had this year, in a city suddenly overflowing with them. Why?
1) Older people rule! I had forgotten that people 30 and over still like rock music, especially after drowning in a sea of emo teens and college kids at Pitchfork, Intonation and Lollapalooza. Accordingly, there were refreshingly few trends to be spotted.
2) Identity. While having a festival with a hodepodge of musical styles can be cool--see Woodstock, Wattstax, not to mention the original Lollapaloozas--I found the "anything goes" booking policies of most of this year's fests to be more divisive than democratic. The hip-hop people went for the hip-hop, the rock people went for the rock, etc. I blame our endlessly niched culture for that. Touch and Go, on the other hand, was a simple independent rock festival. Just about every one of the 60 or so bands carried the same traits: Self-taught music geeks who loved sarcasm, humor, noisy guitars, rattling basses, and praising Corey Rusk, the T&G founder and owner.
3)Tim Tutten and the Hideout. Tutten was his usual self, introducing bands with bombastic monologues concerning rock history and the state of the world. Usually, I'm grateful for Tutten's MCing at various Hideout shows (and at Pitchfork) but in an ironic sort of way. This time, his grandiose soap-boxing felt entirely appropriate.