Backbeat: Killer Mike & El-P's 'Run the Jewels Toothpaste,' Twinkie The Kid's Sweet Comeback; Secretly Label Group's Group Shot @P4K Fest

L to R: Grace Wegener, Darius Van Arman, Nick Blandford, Jon Coombs, Melanie Sheehan, Phil Waldorf, Katie Glaser, Chris Swanson all of Secretly Label Group and Adam Busch of The Curious Digit and Manishevitz (The Curious Digit were the first artists released by Jagjaguwar). "We all enjoyed seeing Angel Olsen, Foxygen, Gauntlet Hair, and Phosphorescent in Chicago and are excited for our fall releases which include DIANA, Julianna Barwick, Califone and Volcano Choir," said Lyssa Thompson, the label group's p.r. person (not pictured)

(Photo credit: Kate Glicksberg)

The eighth annual Pitchfork Music Festival celebrated what seemed its biggest year yet July 19-21 with attendance in excess of 54,000 across three days at Chicago's Union Park, bigger headliners in Bjork and R. Kelly and a record roster of sponsors that included Red Bull, Ray-Ban and H&M. Though rain cut Friday headliner Bjork's set short by about 20 minutes, and M.I.A.'s penultimate Sunday night performance was plagued by sound problems, the festival otherwise went off with few hitches and many highlights.

 Ardie Farhadieh (Marketing and Media Manager, Billions) and Josh Mulder, (Admin Asst, Billions). (Photo credit: Kate Glicksberg)

Pitchfork is the place where the indie label and touring communities come to reunite and chill in the shaded VIP area, sipping complimentary cocktails from first-time spirit sponsor Tito's Vodka and beers from returning beer partner, Goose Island. The latter even prepared a special Run The Jewels brew just for the festival, to commemorate Killer Mike and El-P's new collaborative project.

L-R: El-P, Killer Mike, and Brian Taylor (Head Cellar, Goose Island). (Photo credit: Kate Glicksberg)

Before his Sunday afternoon performance, El-P told Billboard that the Run The Jewels beer was "just something that we got approached for. I know that Goose Island is back doing Pitchfork for the first time in a while, and they wanted to do a couple collaborative beers. We were their top choice, and they just came to us. We came down for the day and helped brew the beer, pour the hops in, tour the factory. It was a blast."

Pitchfork Fest 2013: Bigger Headliners, More Sponsors, Elaborate Production, Killer Mike and El-P's New Beer 

While El-P says that he and Killer Mike aren't "running around and trying to brand a bunch of shit," their Run The Jewels collaboration may be open to more deals beyond the Goose Island partnership, which may lead to the beer actually being bottled and expanded if the initial product sells well. Mike adds, "I do want Run The Jewels toothbrushes and toothpaste though."

"I was surprised by how much they actually worked -- you would have thought they were one of our brewers," says Goose Island brewmeister Brian Taylor (third from left) who worked with Killer Mike and EL-P on making the Crown The Jewels brew. "We started out in the morning, we got our malt mill ready, got our hops ready, we did some brewing, we mashed in and then we went and had beers at Cobra Lounge and then came back and finished it up -- it's a six hour process." Taylor  is clearly important to the rap duo as they invited him to introduce them from the stage. Todd Ahsmann (far right), brand manger for Goose Island, who helped create the Crown the Jewels campaign, joked that he worked for twenty years in the music business and decided that he was "going to save the music industry thorough the beer industry."  Pictured above  the Goose Island posse (from left), Mike Thiel (Assoc Brand Mgr. Goose Island), Ana Serafin (Comm. Mgr, Goose Island), Brian Taylor (Head Cellar, Goose Island), Todd Ahsmann (brand mgr, Goose Island) (Photo: Kate Glicksberg)

Beyond Run The Jewels, several other impromptu collaborations occurred throughout the weekend. On the Blue Stage Sunday afternoon, Dev Hynes, a.k.a. Blood Orange, brought out Chairlift's Caroline Polachek to preview the first single from his upcoming sophomore album, and later appeared alongside Sky Ferreira to duet on "Everything Is Embarrassing," a single he penned for her 2012 "Ghost" EP. On Saturday, Low's Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker duetted on Rihanna's "Stay," lending the emotive ballad an even more intimate, hushed vibe.

 

L-R: Julia Holter, who performed a gorgeous set on Saturday morning on the Blue stage, Matt Mondanile (Ducktails/Real Estate), and Judy Miller (Motormouth Media). (Photo credit: Kate Glicksberg)

Other surprises came in the form of sponsors, whose booths and installations were limited to the fan village and VIP areas ­ -- no branded stages here. Tito's, which has donated product for the past several years at Pitchfork, came on-board in an official capacity and provided free cocktails and a well air-conditioned airstream trailer behind the main Green stage. "We've been working with them at South By [Southwest] for a couple years, and had been dying to work with them here, so when they finally got the license to have an alcohol partner we jumped on-board," said Adam Fleming, Tito's event marketing manager.

From left: Jeff Kaye (Warp Management), and Chris Roberts (NXNE Festival Director). (Photo credit: Kate Glicksberg)

The handmade vodka brand has been hitting the festival circuit hard all summer, doubling its 2012 investment and joining Bonnaroo as a first-time spirit partner in June, returning to Chicago for Lollapalooza in two weeks, and teaming up with other evenbts  like Wonderlust, Austin City Limits, Sasquatch, Somerset, Electric Forest and Tortuga. Fleming says Tito's expanded approach circles back to the vodka's founder, Bert Butler "Tito" Beveridge II. "Tito himself is a musician. It's just kind of a no-brainer. We don't really have a specific demo. People ask us, 'What festivals are you targeting?' And we're just targeting music. If people are out enjoying themselves and having a good time, we want to be there. That's what we think is important, is the experience and improving it."

Peacing OutAdam Shore (Blackened Music, manager of Best Coast) and Kendel Ratley (Kickstarter, Marketing Director). (Photo credit: Kate Glicksberg)


Twinkie The Kid, celebrating the "sweetest comeback in history," which many at the 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival would say was either the Breeders or the Swans.

Some sponsor activations were more bizarre than others, however. Hostess rolled up a truck on Sunday to celebrate "the sweetest comeback ­in the history of ever," featuring an appearance from a costumed Twinkie the Kid (above), who posed for pictures. First-time sponsor H&M hosted an air-conditioned tent all weekend where fans could make their own t-shirts and pose for an interactive-GIF photo booth, while a DJ played decidedly un-Pitchfork approved remixes of One Direction and the "Cupid Shuffle."

Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber. (Photo credit: Kate Glicksberg)

 
Adam Fleming (Tito's Event Marketing Manager). (Photo credit: Kate Glicksberg)
 
Hector Montes (Beggars Group, Radio Promotion) and Allan Benedict (The Syndicate, Radio Marketing). (Photo credit: Kate Glicksberg)
 

Additional reporting by Andy Gensler and Jason Lipshutz

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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