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Pitchfork Music Festival 2021: Sunday Preview Guide

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.

Easy Access: Lineup Playlist, Friday Preview Guide, Saturday Preview Guide

Pitchfork Music Festival 2021: Saturday Preview Guide

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.

Easy Access: Lineup PlaylistFriday Preview GuideSunday Preview Guide

Pitchfork Music Festival 2021: Friday Preview Guide

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.

Easy Access: Lineup PlaylistSaturday Preview GuideSunday Preview Guide

Pitchfork Music Festival 2021: The Playlist

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.

Easy Access: Friday Preview GuideSaturday Preview GuideSunday Preview Guide

Pitchfork Music Festival 2021: The Lineup


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!

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