As the sun rises in Chicago today, finishing touches are being put on Union Park to prepare for the start of the 2021 edition of the Pitchfork Music Festival. It was far from a certainty that this would happen, giving that the ever-shifting nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes predicting the future a tough ask. But there’s one beneficial consequence of new citywide restrictions sparked by the recent surge in cases: Masks are no longer optional. That, combined with proof of either vaccination or a more-stringent “within 24 hours” negative COVID test, have us feeling cautiously optimistic about the relative safety of the event. (Unlike the festival-wide aerosol spray can of germs that was Lollapalooza, though the relatively low number of infections from that event is also heartening.) So it’s time to get excited about this year’s performances—and there are some great ones scheduled. From headliners like St. Vincent to live-wire smaller acts like Dogleg, here are the artists we’re most enthusiastic about checking out this year.
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