Now that we’re back and slowly getting into our grind again, Sara and I have to agree that this was our best Flatstock yet. The prospect of hanging out with some of our best friends, in our favorite big city, showing our work and seeing some great bands seemed just too good to be true. Despite the near record-setting high temps and bouts with losing power at night, it was still a very memorable, and successful Flatstock. Here’s a day-by-day account:
Load-in at Crosshair studio; Fellow poster-maker (and Lexington native) Dan MacAdam’s studio is a short walk from Union Park, so many artists were pre-loading their setup into a U-Haul to be parked on the grounds of the festival overnight. This was our first venture out of the air conditioned confines of the Honda, after being on the road for 5 hours, and stand-still traffic for nearly two. Stepping out onto the streets under the el tracks gave us a taste of what we were in for during the weekend. Within minutes of unloading the car, my shirt was already soaked with sweat.
Afterwards, we met up with our good friends Nathan and Sabrina, who were gracious enough to let us crash at their place over the weekend. We ventured over to The Hideout for the traditional Flatstock “BBQ”; this being Chicago however, the fare was - what else - Chicago-style pizza. It was great seeing everyone again and catching up, but we had too many beers - a factor that would not bode well for us during setup the next morning.
Day One (Sat)
Arrived at the park bright and early, and just a slight bit groggy from the beers the night before. During setup though, once the morning sun and heat was blaring down on us, the level of our dehydration and urgent need for water soon became apparent. It was barely even 10am, and already people were complaining about the unbearable heat and humidity. At one point, Sara and I had to sit down because we were feeling faint. I estimate that each of us drank about a gallon of H20, and our bodies absorbed so much of it that we barely had to pee the whole day.
By 10:30 or so, we’re just about ready and relaxed, and our boothmate arrives with a fan and cooler full of bottled water and ice. We can’t stress enough how cool it was getting to know the amazing Kathleen Judge, and sharing a booth / tent with her was definitely one of the factors that made the weekend so great. Thanks, Judge!
After the sun reached it’s peak, things started to cool off a bit, and Sara got a chance to go see the band she really wanted to see, Band of Horses. The crowds on the first day were steady, and we did fairly well throughout the day. Lots of great people stopped by, and the smiling faces of those overwhelmed by the amount of amazing artwork at Flatstock was a welcome response. By 10pm, we were so stinky, sweaty and exhausted that we headed back to Nathan and Sabrina’s place and crashed.
Day Two (Sun)
Sunday morning started off interesting with the threat of severe storms rolling through. We were in tents, but hardly storm-proof. There was a bit of scrambling around, and makeshift weatherproofing going on at everyone’s booths, but the clouds and wind soon passed in time for the gates to open. Fortunately, the clouds kept it from being as hot as it was the day before. Sunday seemed to be the best day for bands, and you could tell by the crowds. We were pretty excited to get to see Mission of Burma, Yo La Tengo, Liars, Spoon and the evening’s headliner, Os Mutantes. Burma absolutely killed it.
A few interesting visitors stopped by on Sunday; including our friend (and Chicago jazz legend) Ken Vandermark, as well as Mitch Cocanig, one of the founders of Umbrella Music and organizer of the Immediate Sound jazz series at The Hideout. We were also pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the fine fellow who ended up with the winning bid on Sara’s Destroyer poster (signed by Dan Bejar himself), which fetched a pretty penny during Merge Record’s charity poster auction a few months back. (I’m sorry that we misplaced your name, sir, but thank you for stopping by and introducing yourself!)
Once the sun went down, everyone’s tents were illuminated by christmas lights and various lighting rigs. Unfortunately, the generator which powered our row was on the fritz, and we kept browning out - meaning that we’d have a tent full of folks looking at posters, and suddenly …BLOOP! No lights. We fought with that for the rest of the evening, but we endured.
By the end of the day, we had experienced crazy amounts of booth traffic, and ended up selling out of many of our posters that we had brought. Sara’s comics did extremely well, leaving us wishing we had brought more with us. We will next time around!
That about wraps up our Flatstock 9 weeked. Huge props go out to Jay Ryan, the API, and the rest of the Chicago poster crew and behind-the-scene volunteers that helped make this Flatstock such a fun one. I think everyone else felt the same way. Hopefully, we will get to see you all again at Pitchfork Fest next year! Until then…