Oh baby, Sunday (9/12) was a fun one at Pitchfork Music Festival 2021. Here’s a bunch of photos from the day, organized in alphabetical order by artist: Andy Shauf, Caroline Polachek, Cat Power, Danny Brown, Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, Keiyaa, Mariah the Scientist, oso oso, Thundercat, The Weather Station, and Yves Tumor. Check them out below!
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Please enjoy this collection of photos taken on Saturday (9/11) of Pitchfork Music Festival 2021. It includes the following artists, in alphabetical order: Amaarae, Angel Olsen, Bartees Strange, Divino Nino, Faye Webster, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Horsegirl, Jamila Woods, Kim Gordon, Maxo Kream, RP Boo, St. Vincent, Ty Segall, and Waxahatchee. You can find them all below!
Here’s a collection of photos taken on Friday (9/10) of Pitchfork Music Festival 2021. It includes the following artists, in alphabetical order: Animal Collective, Big Thief, black midi, DEHD, Dogleg, Ela Minus, The Fiery Furnaces, Hop Along, Kelly Lee Owens, Phoebe Bridgers, The Soft Pink Truth, and Yaeji. Continue past the jump to see them all!
After two long days of live music, I needed a little extra rest in order to make it through Sunday at Pitchfork intact. Unfortunately, that meant missing an act like Special Interest, who I was excited to see but also had one of the first sets of the day. I’m sure Tomberlin would have been wonderful too, but it just wasn’t quite meant to be this time. Here’s a recap of all the artists I did end up seeing on Sunday, which basically amounts to everyone else on the lineup.
I arrived at Union Park a little bit into KeiyaA‘s set, which was going strong on the Green stage. Upon wandering over and listening to a handful of songs, it was generally quite lovely. She had a three-piece band with her, which I think helped flesh out the R&B songs from her album Forever, Ya Girl a bit more than the recorded versions. While that generally meant a more energized delivery, and KeiyaA’s voice was operating at full power, I’m still not sure it was enough to really grab my attention and snap me out of an early Sunday afternoon haze. The sun was out, a breeze was blowing through, and I just wanted to sit down somewhere and relax to her music.
Meanwhile oso oso looked a little crowded together on the Blue stage. They’re not a large band by any stretch of the imagination, but their multi-guitar attack paired with a singer just looked like there wasn’t much room to move around. They tried though, which is more than I can say for the crowd watching them. oso oso songs are fun pop-punk throwbacks, and should have inspired some jumping around. Maybe a mosh pit or crowd surfing too. Instead, everyone just kind of stood there and listened as the band tried to liven things up a bit. Maybe it was successful early on in the set (which I missed), but the last few songs were met with a lot of crossed arms and shrugs.
Guitars and powerful voices were the two things that absolutely dominated Pitchfork on Saturday. There were great sets all around, but especially in the early and late parts of the day. Here’s a comprehensive summary of all the amazing things I witnessed during Day 2 of the festival.
Technically speaking, Chicago trio Horsegirl only have three songs to their name so far. It was enough to get them signed to Matador Records, but not enough to fill a 40 minute festival set opening up Saturday at Pitchfork. The great news is that Horsegirl do in fact have more than just three songs, and they played enough of them to prove there’s lots more greatness to come. Despite forming shortly before the pandemic and not having a lot of live shows under their belts, they still managed to sound better and operate more tightly than bands who have been around for a while. Their unique blend of shoegaze and post-rock might have felt more at home under cloudy skies and stormy conditions, but a sunny day with a cool breeze was almost as effective. Can’t wait to hear/see what they do next.
Speaking of up and coming talent, Bartees Strange came charging right out of the gate like he had something to prove to an early afternoon crowd at Pitchfork. Rest assured, if anyone there hadn’t heard of him prior to his set, they absolutely knew who he was by the end of it. The man is a multi-talented wonder, capable of thrusting his guitar into the air while tearing into a killer solo as well as singing with deep conviction through an energized rock song or a tender ballad. He played most of the songs from his debut album Live Forever, most of which sounded as good if not better than the recorded versions thanks to his beefed up band. He also covered The National’s “Lemonworld”, which was part of his early 2020 EP featuring five songs from the popular indie band titled Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy. “Boomer” wrapped things up and sent the crowd into an excited frenzy. Expect bigger stages and better time slots for Bartees Strange in the very near future.
Pitchfork Music Festival made its glorious return to Union Park on Friday afternoon, two years and two months later than usual. In that time, some things have changed.
The pandemic is the main point of concern, as it resulted in the festival’s cancellation last year and could very well have canceled it again this year were a number of safety precautions not in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. Among those precautions? Requiring all attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken at an approved vendor within 24 hours of entry. Masks are also strongly encouraged. By all accounts, everyone in attendance followed proper procedure, and there were no major hiccups at the entrance gate (outside of a very long line). Once inside, I was pleased to see that close to 50% of people were wearing their masks when not actively eating or drinking. Unfortunately that percentage dropped significantly the larger the crowd got throughout the day. By the end maybe 25% of people kept their masks on, which honestly is still better than Lollapalooza back in July, where fewer than 10% of people were masking. Lolla didn’t result in a super spreader event (that we know of…), so hopefully the same holds true at Pitchfork.
Outside of the pandemic, everything else was nearly exactly the same as previous years. There’s a basketball court behind the Green stage that typically has snacks/fun booths from sponsors and such, but this year that area is covered by a large tent and has picnic tables inside instead. In fact, there appear to be far fewer sponsors this year overall. No booths giving out free bottles of antioxidant flavored water or kefir ice cream or custom screen printed shirts. Goose Island is the beer sponsor. White Claw has their own area, as does Door Dash. Not a whole lot else beyond that. Same goes for food vendors. There are about 5-6 booths when there would normally be a minimum of 8-10. It’s a bit weird to see things stripped down that much.
Lastly, there are fresh signs of gentrification in the area. Right between the Red and Green stages, you can see three brand new high rise buildings under construction, located about 2-3 blocks away. Let’s hope it doesn’t have any effect on park business such as the multiple music festivals (including Pitchfork) that happen there every year. I get the feeling new residents might not like loud music blasting up to their balconies for multiple weekends each summer.
So that’s the basic outline of what’s new at Pitchfork this year. Now let’s get to the music. Here’s a recap of the performances I witnessed over the course of Friday. It was a pretty solid day overall, with a couple of real standout sets.
And just like that, the 2021 Pitchfork Music Festival officially kicks off tomorrow afternoon. It’s been a long road to get here, and things will certainly feel a bit different this year, but let’s appreciate the fact that it’s able to happen. My introduction to the Sunday preview guide always includes tips on how to enhance your festival experience, so here’s the 411. If this were happening in mid-July as usual, I’d say that your top priority should be staying hydrated. Technically that remains true in September too, just the temperatures will be more manageable and you won’t be sweating as much. Drink plenty of water and you’ll feel better every day. Wear sunscreen and bug spray. It seems obvious, but people forget. Bring a poncho, ideally one you can keep folded in your pocket. Rain is always a possibility, even if it’s just a pop up shower. And of course have your mask and either a proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID test at the ready because you won’t get in without them.
If you’re not interested in watching performances all day long and need a bit of a respite, there are other activities on the grounds of Union Park to distract yourself. There are lots of food and beverage options. You can stop by sponsored tents/kiosks with games you can play or free stuff being given away. The CHIRP Record Fair has plenty of vinyl and other music goods you can check out. The Flatstock Poster Fair brings in artists from all over the country showing off and selling posters they’ve created for concerts and other things. There’s also the Renegade Craft Fair, which showcases a bunch of handmade goods from artisan crafters. You may just find a cool little tchotchke to carry around with you for the duration of the festival and beyond. So yes! If you’re headed to Union Park this weekend, I hope you’ll have a blast and stay safe for this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival. For those of us focused on the music, here’s the guide to what you’ll see and hear on Sunday.
Saturday at Pitchfork 2021 should be a little weird and a little fun, which honestly is kind of right in this festival’s wheelhouse. The diversity of artists increases from Friday, but the number of genres represented decreases overall despite a few acts that blur a lot of lines with experimentation. The day builds in energy early but then hits a small speedbump in mid-afternoon before picking back up again to close things out. The Blue stage is the place to hang out if you’re interested in high quality rap and R&B, while Red and Green will focus largely on rock acts. Unfortunately there aren’t really any electronic acts on Saturday, but if you really want to dance I’m certain you can find a way.
There are some major schedule conflicts on Saturday that may be difficult to navigate for the astute music listener, however the good thing is that the stages are close enough you can easily split your time between them and not have to worry about missing too much. I’ve done my best to help you make some hard decisions with some descriptions and recommendations below. Perhaps the best advice I can give is to challenge yourself in some way by checking out an artist you’ve never heard or seen in concert before. If you’re not enjoying a set, just walk away. There’s almost always another stage in action, and if not, you can explore the grounds of Union Park a bit and maybe get some food. Don’t hesitate to seek out “Better Distractions”, as Faye Webster would call them. Here’s a closer look at Saturday’s lineup, broken down by hour and conflicts.
On paper, and perhaps in execution, Friday seems like it’ll be a somewhat strange day at Pitchfork Music Festival. The lineup and the way it’s organized is kind of all over the place from a genre perspective. Rap that tests the limits of the art form, electronic stuff to get you dancing, hard-nosed punk to rev up the energy, psychedelic/experimental to cool you down, and of course emotionally heavy indie rock that may bring tears to your eyes. That level of sonic diversity is not for the faint of heart, but pays dividends to those willing to explore and test their own limits. It should be a whole lot of fun, too!
If you’re planning to attend the festival and are at all unsure about what artists to see during what time of day, my hope is that this preview guide will help you make some critical decisions. I’ve broken Friday’s lineup down by hourly time slot, and included my personal recommendations on what’s worth checking out in case you need it. Really though, it’s all pretty fantastic and there are no wrong choices. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss on Friday, which basically amounts to encouraging you to show up early.
Welcome once again to Pitchfork Music Festival week here at Faronheit! It’s always a genuine thrill to provide wall-to-wall coverage of this 3-day live music extravaganza, but especially so in 2021 following last year’s pandemic-related cancellation. Of course the pandemic is very much still happening and conditions are not ideal for tens of thousands of people to gather close together and watch performances, however vaccines and masking have greatly reduced the chance of contracting COVID-19 and even breakthrough cases are highly unlikely to result in hospitalization or death. Of course there’s also the possibility of infecting your friends and loved ones. It’s important to note that attending any large scale public event these days comes with certain risks, and before purchasing a ticket you should determine how much you’re willing to accept.
And just like that, Lollapalooza returns to Chicago in 2021. Thursday, July 29th through Sunday, August 1. All four days, all full capacity. That’s around 100,000 people per day. Given that the world is still in a bit of a precarious place right now and not everything is fully reopened yet, any feelings you may have about safety and the words “superspreader event” are very much justified. People come from all over the globe to attend this festival, and with varying vaccination rates and new virus variants spreading like wildfire there’s some potential for danger. After all, this will be the first real test of vaccine efficacy in the United States and perhaps the world. It seems doubtful there will be any other large scale events happening before mid-July, though I suppose the (smaller) Rolling Loud festival in Miami the week before Lolla also qualifies.
All that said, along with the initial lineup announcement, Lollapalooza organizers have shared some information regarding COVID protocols for festival attendees. Specifically, everyone entering into Grant Park will be required to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result taken within 24 hours of each day. While this likely isn’t 100% foolproof at preventing infection (fake vaccine cards/test results may be used by some people, there are typically groups of fence jumpers that sneak into the festival every year), it at least signals they’re attempting to keep things as safe as possible. More information about specific COVID protocols and requirements will be revealed at some point in July leading up to the start of Lolla.
Given that the demographics of Lollapalooza skew heavily toward the younger generation (teens), there are some positives and negatives to consider related to risk factors. On the plus side, vaccinated or not, teenagers tend to have a much lower potential for severe illness and death if they do catch COVID. On the minus side, most teens feel invincible and fail to fully grasp the concepts of safety and responsibility for others. I would not be the least bit surprised to see 90% of people walking around maskless and without a care in the world, confident they won’t get sick and even if they do, it won’t be that bad. So yeah, just something to keep in mind before you buy a Lolla wristband this year.
The lingering shadow of COVID aside, let’s move on to more positive things, because if this were any other year all the talk would be about this lineup! It’s definitely an interesting collection of artists, and honestly I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the whole thing just yet. That top line of headliners: Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Tyler the Creator, and Miley Cyrus feels like it brings a little something for everybody. Foo Fighters handle the rock and may well be called a legacy act given their longevity. Post Malone is a crossover superstar, pulling in hip hop and pop fans alike. He had one of the biggest crowds of the entire festival for a late afternoon set in 2018. Tyler, the Creator has been grinding away at the rap game for over a decade now and has been making larger and larger strides to finally reach headliner status. And Miley Cyrus has plenty of classic pop hits but admirably refuses to be boxed in. Her last album put her into a Joan Jett sort of rock mode, and she’s been playing around with some covers too that really showcase her incredible voice. Should be a fun set!
The second line on the poster starts to dig into just how heavy Lollapalooza has started to emphasize rap, with DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, and Roddy Ricch taking up half the slots. Marshmello and ILLENIUM are two of your big EDM headliners, and Journey scores one for the “classic rock” set. I could’ve sworn Journey was playing the state fair and local parade circuit not too long ago, but it seems I’m wrong given their second tier headliner status.
I’m not going to go through the entire lineup line by line and talk about every artist because you have eyes and know how to read, so allow me to highlight a few notable names you can find on this thing. Never thought I’d see the day when Limp Bizkit was on a Lollapalooza lineup, let alone on the third line. 16-year-old me would be losing his mind over that. Nice to see Modest Mouse back in action, and keeping my fingers crossed they still break out some of the classics when performing live. Shout out to Chicago rapper Polo G for what’s poised to be his breakout year in 2021. Love to local heroes Whitney and Rookie as well.
Based on past experiences I can tell you that Rico Nasty and JPEGMAFIA both put on pretty wild and insanely fun sets, so those will be something to look forward to. Seriously, JPEGMAFIA gave one of the best festival performances I’ve ever seen a couple of years ago at Pitchfork. Not to be missed! Slowthai is super impressive too, and despite being a British rapper I still wound up trapped in an extremely violent mosh pit when I saw him in 2019. If you can get the crowd moving like that, it’s worth the price of admission. mxmtoon, Noga Erez, and Boy Pablo are all up-and-coming pop artists that will likely command much bigger stages in the future. Cool to see Hinds and Porches show up at this festival, even if they’re on the lower half of the poster. Allow me to give a big thumbs up to Aly & AJ, Goth Babe, and Chiiild as well – all artists worth checking out.
There’s plenty more good and worthwhile artists on this year’s Lollapalooza lineup that I haven’t named, so as always I encourage you to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with these acts. You may just discover something you love, whether you actually attend the festival or not. 4-day passes for Lollapalooza 2021 are on sale now, with an initial GA price of $350. Prices will go up as more tickets are sold, so you may want to buy sooner rather than later. Single-day tickets and day-by-day lineups will likely be revealed in a week or two.
I’d like to wish a warm welcome back to the Pitchfork Music Festival! After last year’s cancellation thanks to the pandemic, they’ve officially announced that a 2021 version of the festival will return a couple of months later than usual, from September 10-12 at Union Park in Chicago. That hopefully gives adequate time for enough people to get vaccinated and new infection numbers to reach a safe level.
Along with the lineup announcement, some initial health and safety guidelines for the festival have been announced. Attendees will be required to wear masks at all times while inside the gates, but masks may be removed when eating and/or drinking. Beyond that, everyone ages 12 and over will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 24 hours for each day of the festival. That’s about as strict and uncomfortable as you can get, but hopefully that level of care keeps everyone safe and prevents this from becoming a superspreader event. Of course if the country continues to improve and we’re close to herd immunity by September, some of these restrictions may get loosened.
So let’s talk about the lineup! If you happened to look over the lineup for the cancelled 2020 version of Pitchfork Music Festival, you’ll notice a lot of the same names are back for 2021. Of course it may not initially appear that way given the three headliners have all been changed. Phoebe Bridgers was listed as fourth on the Sunday lineup for 2020, but thanks to the success of her Punisher record has suddenly been elevated to Friday night headliner status. Good for her! Run the Jewels were set to headline on Saturday in 2020, but Riot Fest snatched them up already for 2021 so St. Vincent steps up as a replacement. A strong choice. As for Sunday, The National are gone from the 2020 lineup and Erykah Badu now rules the day in 2021.
Overall, 19 out of 42 artists have made the crossover from 2020 to 2021. Some of those names include: Angel Olsen, Kim Gordon, Big Thief, The Fiery Furnaces(!), Waxahatchee, Danny Brown, Cat Power, Yaeji, Hop Along, Faye Webster, Caroline Polachek, Dehd, Dogleg, Divino Nino, Mariah the Scientist, and oso oso.
The half of the lineup that’s brand new contains some rather exciting artists as well. Animal Collective has headlined Pitchfork twice before (2008 & 2011), and while their status has dropped a little in the last decade, they’re still making a long-awaited return to Union Park. Flying Lotus hasn’t been on a Pitchfork lineup since 2012, and he’s made a whole lot of great music since then that should play really well at the festival. Great to see Thundercat coming back too, along with Kelly Lee Owens, Ty Segall, Jamila Woods, and black midi.
Capitalizing on some hot up-and-coming artists is something Pitchfork does extraordinarily well, which makes names like Ela Minus, Armand Hammer, Bartees Strange, Amaarae, KeiyaA, and Cassandra Jenkins worth showing up early to check out. Other artists making their Pitchfork Music Festival debut include Yaeji, Andy Shauf, Jay Electronica(!), local favorites Horsegirl, The Weather Station, Yves Tumor, and Special Interest.
Honestly, one of the best things about any Pitchfork lineup is the potential for discovery. You’ve got to be an extremely passionate music fan to immediately recognize every name listed, so chances are there’s something unfamiliar in the mix that may end up catching your ear either leading up to or during the actual festival. Have you listened to the latest albums from The Soft Pink Truth, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Maxo Kream? All worth your time if you haven’t checked them out yet. I could say the same about every artist on the lineup. Or buy a ticket and take in their performances fresh just to see if they’re your cup of tea. If not, there’s almost always another stage to watch or other fun activities to try elsewhere in Union Park. Ideally you’ll walk away from the weekend eager to explore and listen to more new and unfamiliar music.
Get more details and buy 3-day passes for the 2021 Pitchfork Music Festival by visiting the official site. Hope to see the top half of all your beautiful faces in Union Park this September 10-12!
And we back, and we back, and we back…for yet another year of Lollapalooza. I haven’t missed a single day of the festival since it settled in Chicago back in 2005, so 2019 will mark my 15th year in a row of this madness in Grant Park. No, I’m not sure when I’ll finally decide to scale back and start skipping days or the festival entirely. Yes, I’ve slowly become older than most of the people who attend Lollapalooza these days. But the combination of age and experience leads to wisdom, which is something I’m happy to share with anyone planning to spend time at the festival this upcoming week/weekend.
The most basic advice I can give is to know your limits and practice rigorous self-care whether you’re in Grant Park for one day or all four. Drink lots of water (more than you want/need to), wear sunscreen and bug spray, and don’t be afraid to find a spot and sit down for a bit. The number of people I see collapse due to exhaustion, dehydration, or too much alcohol/drugs every year just makes me shake my head. Wear comfortable shoes (NOT flip flops). Avoid bringing a bag or purse if you can, because there are separate security lines at the entrance for bags vs. no bags and I’ll give you one guess as to which one moves at least 3x faster than the other. If you absolutely have to bring a bag, make sure you’re aware of the Allowed and Prohibited Items list before packing it. Also be very mindful of the bag’s size, shape, and number of pockets because there are restrictions on those things too. These might seem like a lot of things to remember, but the good news is that most of them are common sense anyway. Just be smart about it, and you should be fine.
But what about the music? Navigating sets from 180+ artists over four days isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, and the best advice I can give you for scheduling is to map out your day in advance and avoid going from one end of the park to the other too often. The walk end-to-end through Grant Park takes about 15 minutes wading through clusters of people, and you’ll exhaust yourself quickly by doing it more than 2-3 times per day. If you’re facing a difficult time slot conflict between two or more artists, you’d be best off just picking the one at the stage closest to where you are at that very moment. Simple enough! Not familiar with enough artists to fill your schedule for the day? Let me try to help with a list of five performances you shouldn’t miss on each day of the festival. Here we go:
The first day of the 2019 Pitchfork Music Festival, all anybody could seemingly talk about was the heat. Chicago has been placed under an “Excessive Heat Warning” through Saturday evening, with temperatures reaching into the mid-90s though the “real feel” was just a touch over 100 degrees. So yes, it was hot. Everybody was sweating. Not much could be done about it, though some people took it upon themselves to find ways to keep cool. Fans, both paper and mini portable electric ones, were being used by many. Others brought mist bottles. Some simply felt they were wearing too much, and stripped down to the barest of essentials without resorting to outright nudity. The festival organizers were kind enough to offer up as much free water as you could drink, complete with giant ice tubs packed with bottled water free of charge, as well as water fountains in multiple areas of Union Park. At one point I spotted two large buckets filled with ice and a sign on them that simply said “DUNK”. A few brave souls just went right ahead and plunged their whole heads into them. There were also a few cooling buses available so people could have a seat in some air conditioning if they really needed it. Every time I walked past them they looked to be about half full.
One of the saving graces of the day was the Blue stage in general, because it’s a tree-heavy area with plenty of shade. Lots of people took it upon themselves to lay out blankets and just hang out there for much of the day. More than a few were napping somewhat comfortably. While I did see a couple of medical personnel carting somebody away in an ambulance at one point in the late afternoon, the medical tent itself appeared to be pretty quiet for most of the day. I didn’t spot a single person who had collapsed from the heat, and that’s kind of a regular thing that happens at just about every music festival no matter the temperature. People were smart and took care of themselves and others. It’s one of the things I love most about the Pitchfork Music Festival – everyone is super relaxed and friendly and wants to make sure you’re doing okay. We all look out for one another. Hopefully that’s the case again for Day 2 which is expected to be just as hot. But weather and cooling techniques aside, this is a MUSIC festival, and there are a bunch of performances to talk about. So let’s jump right in.
Now feels like a good time to cover some of the extra “things to do” at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival that don’t revolve around standing in front of a stage and watching an artist play their songs. Obviously there are food and drink tents where you can get all kinds of different delicious things. If you’re a fan of limited edition craft beer, you might want to check out the Goose Island booth, where they’ll be offering Wit Awake, a collaboration with the band Parquet Courts that will be sold exclusively at the fest. All proceeds from those beer sales will go to the Freedom for Immigrants charity. Other spots you may want to explore in Union Park include the Flatstock poster fair, where artists showcase and sell various concert posters they’ve designed. There’s the CHIRP Record Fair, where you can find a whole lot of limited edition LPs for sale. If you’re bringing young children under 10 with you there’s also a Kids Zone featuring some fun distractions. And new for this year, Pitchfork Radio will be broadcasting live from the festival grounds. You’ll be able to watch some special live performances, DJ sets and interviews with artists on the lineup, and a few other things. Check out the full programming schedule and drop by if you’re looking for a break from hanging out at the stages. Oh! One last thing. All weekend at the Blue stage in between sets there will be live poetry readings from the Young Chicago Authors Louder Than A Bomb Poets. I love a good poem, so that should be lovely. So there you go. There are plenty of distractions to be found at Pitchfork if you’re looking for them. And I’m not even including some of the clothing vendors, environmental activist booths, and sponsored free giveaways of food and merch. It all adds up to one unforgettable weekend. I hope you’ll be there! Here’s the link to buy tickets if you still need to do so. The Sunday lineup this year looks particularly special, and I’m excited to see and hear how it all plays out. Check out the hour-by-hour guide below, once again noting that any starred (**) artists are the ones I’m recommending most. In case you missed them, here are links to the preview guides for the other days as well: