Thanks be to all that is indie and diverse, the fifth annual Pitchfork Music Festival 2010 kicks off this Friday in Chicago’s Union Park.

When I started digging in to find my top buzz bands to cover, I found the best information in the most surprising place. NPR.com has arguably the most comprehensive coverage of the festival and the artists outside of the Pitchfork-branded sites themselves. No surprise that the “alternative” radio station in Chicago, Q101, has never heard of the festival, according to their site. Q101 is spending their time on Mountain Dew’s Dew Tour and covering Pete Wentz’s new reggae-tinged project, Black Cards.

This year’s Pitchfork Fest line-up reminds me of the first year or two of Lollapalooza, back when there truly was “alternative” music to point to and identify with. In addition to giving wider exposure to current blogosphere favorites Liars, Delorean, Titus Andronicus, Neon Indian, Sleigh Bells and more, Pitchfork will also be working hard to help the environment. All of the transportation used for the festival will be exclusively hybrid vehicles, along with an aggressive recycling program, and all of the power for the festival will come from biodiesel fuel, cleaner than normal diesel fuel, and which reduces the demand for oil. Coterie Chicago will feature hand-made goods of all shapes, sizes and styles made by local artists. Flatstock, a poster and art showcase showing the latest phenomenon in handmade poster art, will also be present on the grounds.

The festival kicks off mid-afternoon on Friday with the sultry stylings of Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten and will close on Sunday with reunited alt-rockers Pavement.  For three days, and across three stages, over 40 acts will play in Grant Park and I’m not sure a more diverse line-up is possible. From Ms. Van Etten to Broken Social Scene, and Seattle rockers Modest Mouse to hip-hop masters Raekwon and Big Boi, Pitchfork 2010 got it right.

My Top 10 Must-See Acts are as follows:

Liars – Frontman Angus Andrew and his crazy man-dance skills are not to be missed as he bravely leas his brethren through tracks from the trio’s latest, Sisterworld.

Broken Social Scene – “World Sick” off of May’s Forgiveness Rock Record blew my mind, and will be a perfect accompaniment for early evening winds in Grant Park.

Modest Mouse – A favorite for years and the chance to sing “Float On” with tens of thousands is too good to pass up.

Delorean – lately well hyped online, and the fantastic remix of the XX’s “Islands” only further boosted the Barcelona-based quartet’s profile and its blissful electro-pop.

Titus Andronicus – too heavy to miss, too misanthropic to take completely seriously.

LCD Soundsystem – what better time than a Saturday night in the park to “Dance Yrself Clean”? This is definitely happening.

Beach HouseTeen Dream found the duo sharpening their chops and expanding their sound. Let’s see how a Sunday crowd handles their many, many shifting moods.

Surfer Blood – they’re from West Palm Beach, I’m from West Palm Beach. Let’s see if they do the hometown proud.

Sleigh Bells – M.I.A.’s favorite bombastic, beat-driven duo are set to thrill and kill.

Pavement – seeing a reunited Pavement is a no-brainer for anyone who has heard but 30 seconds of Slanted and Enchanted.

–Dennis McLennand

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  2. There’s also this option to start off your Saturday just minutes away from the fest in the heart of downtown.

    Sybris is playing at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park from noon till 12:45 on Saturday. If your unfamiliar with Pritzker it’s in Grant Park downtown, next to the bean and surrounded by skrapers. With 8.0 and 7.2 Pitchfork scores from their first two albums this fits right into the weekend! And it’s FREE!



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