Pitchfork to bring Midwinter music festival to The Art Institute of Chicago


Source: Pitch Perfect PR

Many of the Midwinter performances will take place on the Grand Staircase of The Art Institute of Chicago. Festival-goers can purchase add-on tickets to concerts in Griffin Court, Rubloff Auditorium, The Stock Exchange and Fullerton Hall.

Andrea Michelson, Arts and Entertainment Editor

For Northwestern students, the words “Pitchfork Music Festival” might bring to mind a laid-back weekend of indie music that provides an alternative to the rowdy crowds and pop headliners of Lollapalooza. This weekend, Pitchfork is providing a different type of oasis — an escape from the winter cold.

Pitchfork’s Midwinter will take place at The Art Institute of Chicago Friday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to midnight. Though Pitchfork has hosted concerts in past winters, Senior Director of Festivals and Activations Adam Krefman said this is the first time it has done a winter event of this scale.

Krefman said the event has a cap of 4,000 people per night, making it the company’s third largest annual event after Pitchfork Music Festival and Pitchfork Music Festival Paris. The festival will feature 29 live acts, including Slowdive, Kamasi Washington, Oneohtrix Point Never, Zola Jesus, Laurie Anderson and JPEGMAFIA.

Finding a space for a large crowd to congregate within the museum was far more difficult than planning the annual summer festival in Union Park, Krefman said.

“Midwinter is complicated,” Krefman said. “There aren’t many gigantic spaces in The Art Institute, so programming there while they’re open as an art museum during the day presents a unique set of challenges.”

Krefman said considering the layout of The Art Institute, it would be impossible to have a traditional main stage at Midwinter. To spread people out throughout the museum, he said the festival team designed a system of base tickets and add-on tickets.

According to the Pitchfork website, base tickets grant access to the museum, Grand Staircase and gallery performances and live Pitchfork Radio broadcasts. Festival-goers can purchase add-on tickets to up to eight additional shows per night, which will take place in various venues within the museum including Griffin Court, Rubloff Auditorium, The Stock Exchange and Fullerton Hall.

Another way Midwinter will encourage concert-goers to explore the museum space is the creation of original soundscapes to accompany art exhibits. Krefman said Pitchfork commissioned eight musicians to compose ambient soundscapes that will play for the duration of the six-hour event.

The soundscapes are commissioned specifically for The Art Institute’s galleries, Krefman said, so concert-goers can hear music composed in response to the artwork they’re looking at.

Communication junior Gibran Wirjawan said he purchased tickets for all three days and is looking forward to the event.

“It’s an amazing partnership (between Pitchfork and The Art Institute) and I’m excited about witnessing the first exhibition of this event,” Wirjawan said. “I’m anticipating a great blend of visual and auditory art that’ll separate this event from generic concerts.”

Krefman hinted that there may be some surprise concerts in the gallery space that will further incentivize Midwinter attendees to explore The Art Institute. He said he hopes people will “rediscover” the Institute at the festival, or even bring some concert-goers to the museum for the first time.

All things considered, Krefman said the boundless potential of combining music and art in a single event outweighs the challenges of adapting to the space.

“(The Art Institute) is an iconic institution in Chicago,” Krefman said. “The possibilities that it unlocks with music and art, it makes (Midwinter) very different from your average show.”

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