10 Must-See Lollapalooza Artists
Four weeks from tomorrow, the summer’s best music festival kicks off in Chicago’s Grant Park, the home of Lollapalooza since 2005. Over the course of the weekend, 139 artists are scheduled to perform on 7 stages for an expected 90,000 music lovers per day. I will be among the sweaty masses, and in preparation I’ve been combing through the line-up. Here’s an early look at 10 of the artists I’m excited about, some of whom are on major labels, some who aren’t; some who have been around for decades, others who weren’t alive when the veterans first picked up their instruments; and all who have tapped in the blues, soul, and rock that rules my music-loving heart.
Do you agree with my list? Have I incited your lifelong musical hatred and disdain? Who are you looking forward to at Lollapalooza? Let me hear it in the comments!
Friday, 12:00 p.m. – 12:40 p.m., BMI Stage
Kicking off the first day of music will be Ambassadors. The rock of this young, Brooklyn-based quartet is steeped in dark, stormy blues and soul, which shines on their debut album, Litost, released digitally in January. If they can squeeze this much beauty and feeling out of a few percussion instruments while sitting on a couch, I can’t wait to see what they do with a whole stage.
Friday, 1:10 p.m. – 1:40 p.m., BMI Stage
The season 10 American Idol runner up (she was gipped!) Haley Reinhart wowed everyone from Lady Gaga to Robert Plant with her sparkling pop-blues voice. At Lolla, I hope she brings the full horn section from her debut album, Listen Up!, which dropped on 19/Interscope in May and debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200.
The Black Keys
Friday, 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Red Bull Soundstage
Making their fifth Lolla appearance, the Keys return have been busy: their seventh LP in nine years, El Camino, was released in December 2011 by Nonesuch Records. It debuted at number 2 on the Billboard chart, an indication of how far this powerful duo has come since recording their first demo in drummer Patrick Carney’s basement in 2001. Their brand of raw blues rock has translated well both in the studio and on the stage, and they’re just getting better with age. Says singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach of El Camino, “I think where this record is going to shine for me is playing the songs live. This record is more straight ahead rock and roll—raw, driving, and back to basics.” I. Cannot. Wait.
Saturday, 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m., Bud Light Stage
I fell in love with the San Diego band Delta Spirit as soon as I saw this video, which was filmed at SXSW this past March, just days after their third, self-titled LP was released by Rounder Records. I would kill to have been among the up-close-and-personal crowd shown here, though I’ll settle for admiration from afar on Saturday afternoon of Lolla, as long as they bring the same fire and fun and rip-roaring enthusiasm.
Saturday, 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Google Play Stage
My heart is torn — I’m dying to see Delta Spirit, but the fiery 20-somethings comprising Givers may pull me away for a few minutes of their first ever large festival set. Hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana, the five members of Givers came together for an improvised club set in 2009 and never looked back. Their debut LP, In Light, was released by Glassnote in June 2011, and in its entirety the album is a reminder that music can be uncompromisingly happy, upbeat, and poppy, but still complex. I anticipate theirs to be one of the most exuberant sets of the weekend.
The Temper Trap
Saturday, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Red Bull Soundstage
The other-wordly lead vocals provided by Dougy Mandagi, a former busker, in Australian indie rock band the Temper Trap are something I need to see live to believe. The band’s sophomore, self-titled album was released a month ago today on Glassnote, and it’s already reached number 1 in Australia, though the band is still fighting for name recognition in the U.S. This track, off their 2009 debut Conditions, has gotten the band the most traction, appearing in TV shows, commercials, and movies around the world.
Saturday, 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m., Bud Light Stage
I’ve gushed over my love for the up-and-coming and highly buzzed bluesmongers the Alabama Shakes on this very site: check out my review of their debut LP, Boys & Girls, which was released on Rough Trade Records in April. They’ve also been garnering festival experience, closing the first night of Bonnaroo last month, so they’ll be hot to trot and ready to rock the stage as the heat wanes late Saturday afternoon.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Saturday, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m., Red Bull Soundstage
The effervescent Chili Peppers have headlined Lolla twice before: once in 1992, when the festival was a nationwide tour, and again in 2005, the first year the fest was held exclusively in Grant Park. Next year is their 30th anniversary together, and though they got mixed reviews on their tenth studio release, I’m With You, released on Warner Brothers in August 2011, these guys are seasoned pros. I expect to stand in the mosh pit with members of the younger bands performing throughout the weekend, looking to their elders for tips on How It’s Done.
Of Monsters and Men
Sunday, 6:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m., BMI Stage
The Icelandic indie rock sextet Of Monsters and Men won Iceland’s 2010 battle of the bands, landing them squarely on the world’s pop music radar. Their debut LP, My Head is an Animal, dropped in their home country in September 2011 and in the U.S. this past April on Universal. Their set will be a great way to wind down from the long weekend and enjoy music from the soul before the final headliners take the stage.
Sunday, 8:15 p.m. – 10 p.m., Red Bull Soundstage
The current undisputed king of Rock and Roll, Mr. White will headline Lollapalooza on Sunday night. After 20 years of playing with other bands, notably the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and Dead Weather, White dropped his debut solo album, Blunderbuss, in April on his own label, Third Man Records, in association with XL Recordings and Columbia Records. I wouldn’t miss this chance to watch the master at work.