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Summerfest 2021 lineup includes Jonas Brothers, Chance The Rapper, Miley Cyrus, 90 other headliners

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After canceling for the first time in its 53-year history last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Summerfest, the largest music festival in the United States, is coming back this September — with more than 100 headliners.

The Milwaukee music festival announced the biggest names for its 2021 lineup Thursday morning. Once again, it's one of the most eclectic rosters of any festival in the world, offering something for practically everyone, from politically charged hip-hop supergroup Run The Jewels, to country artist Brett Eldredge, to Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, to NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal, performing as DJ Diesel.

“We could not be more excited to unveil the lineup for Summerfest and introduce a new festival format; more weekends and more headliners, promises to be a big hit among our fans,” Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival Inc., said in a statement. “From first-timers, including Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, and Run the Jewels, to Fest favorites including Dave Matthews Band, T-Pain, Styx and Chris Stapleton, our lineup continues to be one of the most diverse and unique in the industry.”

Chance the Rapper, seen here performing at the 2020 NBA All Star Game, is tapped to headline Summerfest 2021.
Chance the Rapper, seen here performing at the 2020 NBA All Star Game, is tapped to headline Summerfest 2021.

Summerfest, traditionally an 11-day event that runs from late June to early July, is scheduled this year for Sept. 2 to 4, 9 to 11 and 16 to 18, to allow more time for the vaccine rollout.

Topping the 2021 lineup are 12 acts that will headline Summerfest's largest venue, the 23,000-person-capacity American Family Insurance Amphitheater, including special kickoff concerts on Sept. 1 (with an act to be announced) and Sept. 8 with the Jonas Brothers.

Completing a $51.3 million renovation last year, the amphitheater during Summerfest will feature:

Sept. 1: TBA

Sept. 2: Luke Bryan with Dylan Scott

Sept. 3: Chance The Rapper with 24KGoldn

Sept. 4: TBA

Sept. 8: Jonas Brothers

Sept. 9: Chris Stapleton with Sheryl Crow

Sept. 10: Zac Brown Band with Gabby Barrett

Sept. 11: TBA

Sept. 15: Dave Matthews Band

Sept. 16: TBA

Sept. 17: Miley Cyrus

Sept. 18: TBA

Dave Matthews Band, Stapleton and Bryan were originally booked for Summerfest 2020 but have rescheduled for September. Two 2020 headliners that initially rescheduled for 2021, Halsey and Khalid, canceled their Summerfest appearances earlier this year. Summerfest officials said they are working with management for three other previously confirmed headliners — Justin Bieber, Guns N' Roses and Blink-182 — to reschedule dates.

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Beyond the amphitheater, Summerfest officials Thursday also announced headliners that will play seven other grounds stages, including the new Generac Power Stage, a replacement for the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse.

Among the highlights: critically acclaimed indie rock veterans Wilco; veteran R&B man Charlie Wilson; breakout soul-rock duo Black Pumas; and hip-hop veterans T-Pain, Nelly and Ludacris.

With every American adult eligible for a vaccine, new concert and festival announcements have been ramping up, 14 months since the pandemic shut down the live music industry.

But most national concerts and festivals set for the the first half of this year have been postponed or canceled, including Summerfest, which had originally been scheduled for June and July this year.

Nevertheless, Summerfest will be one of the first places to see live music in Milwaukee since the pandemic began, with major concerts not expected to resume in the city until August at the earliest.

The Jonas Brothers will also headline the summer music festival.
The Jonas Brothers will also headline the summer music festival.

Several other festivals traditionally held at Maier Festival Park have canceled for a second consecutive year — including PrideFest, Polish Fest, German Fest and Festa Italiana.

Milwaukee Irish Fest, Black Arts Fest MKE and Mexican Fiesta are still on for August.

Mask requirements, vaccine passports and rapid testing have been discussed in the live music industry as possible new protocols for returning concerts and festivals, but Milwaukee World Festival officials didn’t specify any new requirements Thursday.

Single-day general-admission tickets are available for $23 at summerfest.com. (Children and senior tickets will only be available at the gate.)

Three-day passes ($57), six-day passes ($75) and nine-day passes ($100) are also available at Summerfest’s site.

All general-admission tickets purchased for 2020 will be honored. General-admission tickets do not include access to American Family Insurance Amphitheater concerts. Amphitheater concert tickets are priced differently and separately, but they cover Summerfest general admission on the date of a show.

Miley Cyrus is also among the more than 94 scheduled performers.
Miley Cyrus is also among the more than 94 scheduled performers.

The return of Summerfest — which typically features more than 800 acts and attracts at least 700,000 annual visitors — will be a major boost to a local economy that came to a sudden standstill last spring and has been slowly reopening.

Direct visitor spending in Milwaukee County plunged nearly 40% last year to $1.33 billion, according to VISIT Milwaukee, and tourism-supported jobs were down 28.42% from 2019.

Summerfest's annual impact is $187 million in Milwaukee, with an additional $39 million filtering through the state each year, according to a 2013 study from Tourism Economics.

In 2019, Summerfest employed 2,225 seasonal employees.

The complete 2021 schedule is expected this summer.

Summerfest 2021 Headliner Lineup

Sept. 1

  • Concert to be announced for American Family Insurance Amphitheater

Sept. 2

  • Luke Bryan with Dylan Scott (amphitheater)

  • Big Wild

  • T-Pain

  • REO Speedwagon

  • Cold War Kids

  • Jai Wolf (DJ set)

  • Missio

  • Blackberry Smoke

  • Queensryche

  • KennyHoopla

  • Phantoms (DJ set)

Sept. 3

  • Chance The Rapper with 24KGoldn (amphitheater)

  • DJ Diesel (Shaquille O'Neal)

  • Chris Janson

  • Phil Vassar

  • Indigo Girls

  • Night Ranger

  • Better Than Ezra

  • Reyna Roberts

  • Victoria Canal

Sept. 4

  • Amphitheater headliner TBA

  • Rise Against

  • O.A.R.

  • Blanco Brown

  • Internet Money

  • Styx

  • Drive-By Truckers

  • JD McPherson

  • Shinyribs

Sept. 8

  • Jonas Brothers with Spencer Sutherland (amphitheater)

Sept. 9

  • Chris Stapleton with Sheryl Crow (amphitheater)

  • Flo Rida

  • Quinn XCII

  • Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

  • Greensky Bluegrass

  • George Thorogood and the Destroyers

  • Everclear

  • DJ Jazzy Jeff

  • Alexander 23

  • Ani DiFranco

Sept. 10

  • Zac Brown Band with Gabby Barrett (amphitheater)

  • G-Eazy

  • Wilco

  • Lindsey Stirling

  • Goo Goo Dolls

  • El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico

  • Nelly

  • Jesse McCartney

  • Sugarhill Gang

  • Maddie & Tae

  • Jade Bird

  • Tyler Farr

Sept. 11

  • Amphitheater headliner TBA

  • 311

  • Brett Eldredge

  • ZZ Top

  • Tank and the Bangas

  • Iration

  • Buckcherry

  • Hinder

  • Toad The Wet Sprocket

  • Filter

  • Living Colour

  • The Gufs

  • The Weather Station

Sept. 15

  • Dave Matthews Band (amphitheater)

Sept. 16

  • Amphitheater headliner TBA

  • Diplo

  • Fitz and the Tantrums

  • Dirty Heads

  • Ludacris

  • Jordan Davis

  • Jimmie Allen

  • Liz Phair

  • Tower of Power

Sept. 17

  • Miley Cyrus (amphitheater)

  • Run The Jewels

  • Charlie Wilson

  • Jake Owen

  • Bleachers

  • The Struts

  • Candlebox

  • Future Islands

  • The Psychedelic Furs

  • Dead Sara

  • Fishbone

  • Claud

Sept. 18

  • Amphitheater headliner TBA

  • Pixies

  • Black Pumas

  • Cam

  • Turkuaz featuring Jerry Harrison & Adrian Belew perform Talking Heads' "Remain In Light"

  • Scotty McCreery

  • Poi Dog Pondering

  • Sheila E.

  • Galactic

  • Dillon Carmichael

Contact Piet at plevy@journalsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Summerfest 2021 lineup: Jonas Brothers, Chance The Rapper, Miley Cyrus