The Music.Defin-itive Guide To Pitchfork 2021

I was lucky enough to kick off my Pitchfork weekend a little early with a screening of the great Wilco documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart at the Music Box, brought to you by White Claw. An interesting look at the music industry and a band equally in flux. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out. Perhaps while drinking a Ruby Grapefruit White Claw (though, to be perfectly honest the drink you should really have is the one I got at Music Box a few days earlier-Fireball, apple juice, and ginger beer. It’s amazing). Drummer Glenn Kotche was in attendance to answer some questions audible only to him because the moderator was having a hard time with the mic. Still, a great way to kick off the weekend.

The fest starts in earnest on Friday afternoon when the gates at Union Park open at noon. First things first here, you gotta bring a photo ID, you gotta bring proof of vaccination or a negative test done within 24 hours of entry, and you gotta leave those bota bottles at home! No bota bottles!!! In all seriousness, I know that some venues have started saying that as of October 1, a negative test will no longer be good enough for entry, and I don’t see why Pitchfork couldn’t have done that here other than they would have lost a handful of ticket sales from the dum-dums that don’t think they need to be vaccinated. So, shout out to my fellow Fauci Fans. I’ll see you, but only from the eyes up as I assume you’ll be wearing your mask.

Friday’s lineup is a fun one, with lots of different genres to satisfy all musical tastes. I’m most excited to see the reunion of The Fiery Furnaces (because I’m old). They released their first song in over a decade last year, and Pitchfork will be their first show in just as long. They’re the perfect amount of weird for an early Friday evening as they play the RED STAGE at 5:15. I can almost guarantee they won’t be playing this nearly nine-minute song, but I love it so hear ya go.

Earlier in the day, at 3:20, also on the RED STAGE is Hop Along. One of my favorites right now. Should be interesting since they haven’t released anything since 2018’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog. Frances Quinlan put out a great solo album called Likewise at the beginning of 2020, so this will be their first time playing all together in a while. Very excited to hear what they have in store for this set, and I’m also going to their show Saturday night at Metro.

If you’re rolling, good news! Animal Collective is taking on the GREEN STAGE at 6:15. All your favorites will be there: Geologist, Deakin, Panda Bear. Even Avey Tare! Will they play some electric droning music?? Haha You know it!! They’ve actually been working on some new stuff that got delayed by Covid, so they will likely play some things you may have never heard. But I’m sure they’ll still break out “My Girls.”

Big Thief is closing the RED STAGE, Phoebe Bridgers is the de facto headliner on the GREEN STAGE. But let’s take a look at the BLUE STAGE, which features a performance by Yaeji. While those other two acts are going to warble their way through some sad songs, Yaeji will be delivering absolute BANGERS that are sure to get your body moving. If you want to finish off the first day with a fun, crazy set, get over to the forgotten corner of Union Park and dance your heart out. Don’t worry, the set ends at the same time Bridgers starts, so you’ll still catch “Kyoto.”

Now, before I get into Saturday’s highlights let’s talk about food. Day 2 is pretty packed so you’re gonna want a plan for what you’re going to eat before you get there as time will be limited and you don’t want to waste precious seconds trying to decide.

I’ve been looking at the food options available this year, and I’ve come to a decision on my recommendation. Cevapcici is the 2021 winner for most delicious-sounding food: a Croatian dish that mixes lamb, beef, pork, garlic, and spices. Shape it into a sausage-like link and toss it on the grill. Oh man, I honestly can’t wait to try this thing. Apologies to my Vegan friends and readers. There will, of course, be options for vegetarians and Vegans. A falafel bowl from Benjyehuda sounds delightful and might be my second choice behind Cevapcici. Also available: Connie’s Pizza, Beat Kitchen, Black Dog Gelato (yes please), Goddess and Grocer, Billy Goat Tavern (no Coke, Pepsi), Festibowls, Bumbu Roux, and Chicago Dog House.

On to Saturday…Look, I’m gonna be honest-I usually skip the first couple acts on Saturday. I’m tired, my feet hurt, I’m editing photos from the day before. I just don’t feel like getting up. That said, I will make an effort to get there in time for Divino Nino. I saw them at SubT once, and they’re really great. They play at 2:30 on the GREEN STAGE. Even if you don’t feel like it, take it from me, it’ll be worth it.

You’ve got a little break after that set to get some food, grab a drink, and head over to see Faye Webster on the BLUE STAGE. But wait, the monsters that created the schedule also put Waxahatchee on the GREEN STAGE 15 minutes later, at 4:15!! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!?! Some kind of sick joke, I assume. Forced to choose, I will of course be catching a couple songs by Webster and then bolting over to the green to see Waxahatchee. Saint Cloud was one of last year’s finest albums, and Katie Crutchfield also did a really great cover of Springsteen’s “Streets Of Philadelphia,” which I hope she plays, but she probably will not.

At 5:15 on the RED STAGE Ty Segall is bringing his latest iteration to Chicago. I’m personally not a big fan of his music, but he has a lot of fans and I’m sure his performance will be very loud. As his set ends, Kim Gordon, formerly of Sonic Youth, will take the GREEN STAGE and I imagine there’s a good deal of crossover fans there, so everyone may end up just taking a few steps from the red to the green. Might be a good time to hit the bathroom while some people wait until after her set.

I’ll be holding it in because at 6:30 Jamila Woods hits the BLUE STAGE and I can’t miss that performance. Don’t worry about me, though. As a man who recently passed a kidney stone, I’m used to being uncomfortable in my nether region. This is part of that hectic schedule I was mentioning earlier-if you want to see a full set, you have to be prepared to not eat or urinate for hours on end. If the performances are great, it’s worth it. If not you just feel like an idiot that peed their pants and passed out from not eating. It’s a throw of the dice I’m willing to make.

As soon as that set ends, Angel Olsen is set to start up on the RED STAGE. Twenty minutes later, Jay Electronica is on the BLUE STAGE. And then St. Vincent closes everything out with a performance I’m sure will be a feast for the eyes and ears. I’m a big fan of her latest album (much moreso than her previous album). Annie Clark always dazzles on stage, so I will be staying as long as I can. Sadly, I’ll have to take off a little early to get to Metro for that Hop Along show.

The early lineup on Sunday doesn’t really hit me as super interesting. In fact, other than oso oso, I would probably skip the first few hours and show up in time to see Caroline Polachek when she plays the GREEN STAGE at 4:15. Her solo stuff since ending Chairlift has been really good, despite my not liking the most recent single “Bunny Is A Rider.”

After that the rest of the night is just a murderers row of talent. Really can’t say I would skip any of the performances (ok, truthfully I will be skipping Danny Brown, but his set last time he played Pitchfork was fun). Very excited to see Yves Tumor on the BLUE STAGE at 5:15. That’s the exact same time Thundercat is playing the RED STAGE. I’ve seen Thundercat before, so I’m trying to let that fact ease the pain of missing his set. And I probably WILL see Thundercat on stage with Flying Lotus when he performs on the RED STAGE at 7:25. Can’t wait for that one.

Watching Flying Lotus probably means I’ll miss Cat Power on the BLUE STAGE. That’s too bad, but I’ll be ok with this decision haunting my dreams for the next 50 years. It won’t really matter, because at 8:30 Erykah Badu is closing out the festival on the GREEN STAGE. I’ve never seen Badu in concert, so I’m really excited to see and hear her live.

That’s it. If you see me, say hello. I’ll be the guy sweating through his clothes with cameras strapped to my body trying to decide if I want a fourth lemonade.

Single day tickets are still available here.