The calendar is about to shift from July to August, and that can only mean one thing: Lollapalooza is coming. Soon Chicago will be invaded by bros in basketball jerseys and headbands, with aviators reflecting the beauty of nature as they drop molly and lose any sense of dignity with which they arrived. It’s a bittersweet time downtown, as the visitors pump money into an economy that desperately needs it, while also tearing one of our most beautiful parks to shreds.
This year I’ll be covering the fest for Flood Magazine, a gig I kinda fell into in the last week. I haven’t been to Lolla since 2009, when the headliners were Kings Of Leon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (originally Beastie Boys but they bowed out when Adam Yauch’s cancer diagnosis was revealed), and The Killers (also headlining this year and every odd numbered year until the end of time). They couldn’t get me a photo pass, so I’ll just be writing about what’s going on over there, as well as some polaroid portraits with a few artists that have been kind enough to return my emails.
I still don’t think the festival needs to be four days, merely spreading the good stuff over a longer period of time while filling in the spaces with mediocre acts. There is enough to fill your schedule, though, and I’ll highlight some acts I’d recommend now.
A lot of the bands I like play early each day, and that’s certainly true on the opening Thursday. Local acts Kweku Collins and The O’My’s will be done before most people are off work. Paper Diamond and Temples will lose a bit of their appeal playing in the hot sun in the mid-afternoon. Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher could only snag a 4:30 slot for his new solo work. Things will really start rolling at 6:30 with Cage The Elephant, Kaytranada, and then Muse to close out the day.
There’s also the after shows every night, but I’m only hitting one. Slothrust is opening for The Pretty Reckless at Bottom Lounge, and I’m so excited for them. I’ve been a fan since I first heard the song “Crockpot” a few years ago. I saw them play at Township, which is pretty tiny, and now they’re playing Lollapalooza.
Their set is pretty early on Friday. Early enough that I won’t be there because I can’t get out early from work that day. They’re on at 1:10. The Lemon Twigs and Jidenna probably should have received later slots on Friday, but if you can get there before 1:45, I’d highly recommend both of them. Mid-afternooners will get Phantogram and Tegan & Sara before the evening music starts. My picks are Ryan Adams at 6, followed by Run The Jewels, and finishing with The Killers.
I have Saturday down as the weakest day overall, with a few acts not to be missed. The first is Ron Gallo at 2:10. I saw them back in April and it was great. Alvvays is on at 3, probably the first one I can make. Royal Blood have a great new album out and they play at 5:15. Live made one of the seminal albums of my teen years and they have a set at 6pm. Hitmaker 21Savage is playing at 7:15 and then local hero Chance The Rapper headlines. There are rumors out that Childish Gambino might make an appearance because they’ve been working on some new music together. I’d say it’s just as likely that Kanye shows up like he did at Chance’s Magnificent Coloring Day last year. Yeezy blazed through 4 or 5 of his own songs before they came together to perform “Ultralight Beam.”
Sunday is a bit of a crapshoot, could go either way. Local singer Noname is playing after Joseph and before Charli XCX and Tove Lo. Sampha gets a decent 6:30 spot and I hope he gets a big crowd because his latest is fantastic. Justice is back headlining after a few years off, and the French duo will be sure to make the audience D-A-N-C-E.
So it’s not too bad. Lollapalooza is neither the worst festival, nor the best. It just is. They didn’t book some of the more interesting acts like Frank Ocean or Solange, probably due to the money involved and not wanting to deal with the possibility of a cancellation at the last minute. It’s unfortunate, because I’d much rather see Frank than, say, Arcade Fire again. Or really any of the constant repeats that make Lolla so middling. The corporate desire to please so many demographics means no one really gets exactly what they want.