Drunk teenagers pass each other pills and fix up Swishers next to couples giving each other deep-tissue tongue massages. Yuppies with VIP wristbands bop along to the music, splashing their beer on nearby feet. And it’s all really loud. On three stages, bands pump out blaring waves of noise.
The Pitchfork Music Festival doesn’t seem like the best place in the world to bring a baby. But that didn’t stop scores of chill parents from toting their tykes to Chicago’s Union Park, where kids under 10 years old got in for free.
“My husband’s in the music industry, and we’ve been huge music fans since our teenage years. We want music to be a part of our kids’ lives,” said Andrea Peterson, who came to the festival with her two toddlers, Lloyd and Edith.
Like most of the parents at the fest, Peterson had headphones for her little ones.
But there was one infant at the loud Thee Oh Sees set who wasn’t wearing the big earmuffs — Arthur Roe, 2 months old, whose parents have been playing in bands since before he and his sister Ronnie, age 3, were born.
“We were still playing when I was pregnant,” said Lisa Roe. Bill and Lisa Roe own the Chicago-based record label Trouble in Mind.
“A lot of parents, I feel, are super protective, almost to a fault about not bringing kids to things like this,” Bill Roe said.
Bringing a few babies to a festival then is kind of like sticking up a big middle finger to the trend of over-protective parenting. That’s not to say that Pitchfork parents exhibit a devil-may-care attitude. Even the Roes, who housed Ty Segall’s band this weekend, are careful.
“We don’t stay for hours, and we don’t go right up front for very long,” Lisa Roe said.
The need to be flexible is one of the drawbacks of bringing tots to a fest: Parents have to adjust their natural schedule to meet their kids’ needs.
“We were going to catch Japandroids, and we forgot her headphones and that’s kind of critical,” said T.J. Cimfel, who brought his 3-year-old daughter Mazlin to Pitchfork this weekend, just like he’s done every year since she was born.
“Mazlin loves the Black Keys,” said her mom, Lainie Castle-Cimfel. “She likes rock ‘n’ roll and gets mad when it’s not quite rock ‘n’ roll.”
Mazlin’s dad was quick to point out that Mazlin digs a good dance track, too.
“She loved Cut Copy last year, and I’m excited to take her to Hot Chip tomorrow. She’ll love it,” Cimfel said.
But the problem Pitchfork presents to a lot of parents is that if you leave the festival, you can’t come back in.
“She still takes naps, and we can’t take her home for a little while,” Castle-Cimfel said.
Another problem bringing a kid to any festival is all the supplies they come with.
“We just walked through the food line, and I got a lot of dirty looks pushing my double-wide stroller,” said Peterson.
But babies love a festival, and festival crowds love babies, even if their presence means they feel guilty smoking.
“He dances, and he likes handing people sticks. He picked up about a hundred sticks and handed them to people, as like, a ‘Hello,’”**** said Greg Hardigan, who brought his 17-month-old baby Grant to the fest.
“He’s not a music aficionado or anything like that. But he likes being with people and running around and being out in the open,” said Margaret Lakin, Grant’s mom.
They say that apples don’t fall far from their trees: If the kids who were at Pitchfork grow up to be as cool as the parents who brought them there, the world is in for an exceptionally hip generation.
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