Welcome friends, to the start of Faronheit’s Lollapalooza 2014 coverage! This weekend, more than 100,000 music lovers will pack into Grant Park each day to see around 140 different artists perform. It’s a behemoth, and essentially one of the largest events to happen in Chicago every year. As somebody who hasn’t missed a day of the festival in the last 10 years, I can promise you it’s a very fun time. My main advice for surviving the full weekend intact are as follows: Take it easy. Trying to see a little bit of everything will wear you out quickly, especially with a festival this huge. Choose who you want to see very carefully, and maybe make some compromises on others so you don’t have to walk from one side of the park to the other over and over. Be sure to sit down at least a couple of times a day to rest a bit. You’ll need the break more than you think. Always be prepared for the weather. Most of the time it’s going to be sunny and hot. Wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Bring a poncho and/or umbrella, just in case it rains. And most importantly, have fun!
With so many artists on the lineup, there’s absolutely no way you can see them all, and even the biggest music fan won’t recognize every name performing. So what I’ve tried to do is compose a bit of a preview guide for the weekend. I’m not going to go over every single name on the lineup, so instead I’ve broken down the must see artists by hour and day. That way, no matter what time it is, you’ll have something good or great to check out. Join me past the jump to see the hourly breakdown and learn a little bit more about the best music to see this upcoming Lollapalooza weekend! Then be sure to check back over the weekend for daily recaps of all the things I’m able to see. I’ll also be providing updates when possible via Twitter, so follow me there for up-to-the-minute news (when reception allows). Thanks everyone, and if you’re headed to Lollapalooza with me this weekend, stay safe.
Must see: The So So Glos [12:00-12:45, Lake Shore Stage]
So you’re ready to take on the three day weekend that is Lollapalooza, and are in search of energy and inspiration. Look no further than Brooklyn punk band The So So Glos. They’ve been making music just under the radar for years now, and at this point can be considered seasoned veterans. Their live shows are wild and fun, and their music has reached the point of prominent placements on some big-name year-end lists.
Catch if you can: San Fermin [12:15-1:00, Palladia Stage]
For those who loved Sufjan Stevens’ brand of chamber pop circa the Illinois record, San Fermin is here to scratch that itch in 2014. Ellis Ludwig-Leone is the man behind the name, and he assembled a collection of over 20 different musicians to play on the debut San Fermin album, including vocals from Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of the band Lucius (who perform their own set on that same stage 45 minutes later). Their set should make for a very beautiful and interesting start to your festival, should you choose to see them.
Must see: Temples [1:00-1:45, Bud Light Stage]
The heir apparent to Tame Impala, these British boys will be bringing their catchy brand of psych-rock to infect your ears and cause more than a few people to break out the recreational drugs they slipped past security.
Catch if you can: Into It. Over It. [1:00-1:45, The Grove Stage]
Chicago-based Evan Weiss has been in more bands than any musician should be, but Into It. Over It. is the one that likely won’t ever go away, as it’s his solo project. Weiss has been one of the leading voices in the emo revival movement that’s been taking serious hold over the last couple of years. His latest album Intersections is full of winding and beautiful rock songs made all the more compelling with remarkably direct and honest lyrics.
Must see: Courtney Barnett [2:15-3:00, The Grove Stage]
The Australian singer-songwriter has some serious guitar chops that you might not notice due to her bouncy, laid back indie rock tunes and lackadaisical vocal delivery. Don’t be fooled – there’s so much more to her music than what’s on the surface.
Catch if you can: Bombay Bicycle Club [2:30-3:30, Samsung Galaxy Stage]
It’s tough to define exactly what Bombay Bicycle Club sound like, largely because they’ve changed styles and directions so many times in the last few years. Their progression and rate at which they release new music has been impressive, and these days they’re going in more of a synth-pop direction akin to M83 or Chvrches. For the most part, they’re just an earnest and committed band with an arsenal of delightfully catchy songs. Nothing wrong with that.
Must see: Warpaint [3:30-4:30, Lake Shore Stage]
They’re not the sort of band you want to see in sunlight, but Warpaint’s arty brand of dark, groove-filled rock should get more than a few people moving in the middle of the afternoon.
Catch if you can: Hozier [3:45-4:45, Palladia Stage]
If you’ve heard his hit single “Take Me to Church,” you’ll know that Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier Byrne makes soulful, blues-inspired music. And boy does he have one hell of a voice!
Must see: Blood Orange [4:45-5:30, The Grove Stage]
One of 2013’s finest records was Blood Orange’s Cupid Deluxe, a grand mixture of styles and genres that included everything from pop to disco to soul to R&B to hip hop to soft rock and back again. His live set should be a pretty solid reflection of that, largely sultry but with a solid rhythm to get you moving.
Catch if you can: Interpol [4:45-5:45, Bud Light Stage]
While Interpol’s stock has been on the steady decline these last few years, they’ve been slowly and quietly attempting to rebuild their empire. Word on the street is that their forthcoming album El Pintor is going to be a legitimately great comeback album, so go for the classics but stay for a preview of the new stuff.
Must see: CHVRCHES [5:30-6:30, Lake Shore Stage]
Graduates of my Class of 2013, CHVRCHES made quite a splash last year with their debut album The Bones of What You Believe. The last time I saw them they were still working on building their confidence and stage presence to support their fun and danceable synth-pop tracks, but word on the street is they’re better than ever and are truly ready to dominate over the massive crowd that’s going to show up for their set.
Catch if you can: Above & Beyond [5:45-7:00, Perry’s Stage]
It’s always refreshing when an EDM act incorporates live instrumentation into their shows, which is why the trio of classically trained musicians that make up Above & Beyond should catch your attention. Sure, they make dance music, but they piece it together, often creating their own samples and loops live on the spot. It makes things not only more exciting, but more melodic and fun to watch too.
Must see: Lorde [6:45-7:45, Bud Light Stage]
Expect Lorde to have one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, largely because she’s one of the bigger pop stars on the planet right now. From mega smash hit “Royals” to strong follow-ups like “Team” and “Glory and Gore,” there’s bound to be huge sing-alongs for this alt-teen sensation.
Catch if you can: Royal Blood [6:50-7:30, BMI Stage]
They’re a two-piece that sound like a full-on, raging 90’s-style rock band. Think Japandroids meets Local H as a jumping off point. Their debut album will be out at the end of August, and all signs point to it being pretty killer.
Must see: Lykke Li [7:30-8:30, Lake Shore Stage]
Lykke Li has gone on record saying she doesn’t particularly like her first record, which had some catchy pop songs on it. These days, she’s making sad and mournful (but excellent) torch songs, which seems to better suit her personality. Don’t expect her set to be fun and danceable as a result, but instead powerful and highly emotional.
Catch if you can: The Kooks [7:15-8:15, Palladia Stage]
These British boys wear their influences on their sleeves, from The Kinks to Supergrass to Van Morrison and beyond. And while they’re not the most creative or experimental band, they know how to write a catchy Britpop tune. That’s worth something, and it’s a big reason why they’ve got a solid fan base.
Must see: Arctic Monkeys [8:30-10:00, Bud Light Stage]
I’ve seen Arctic Monkeys perform twice, and they were a vastly improved live act the second time around. With a few pretty great albums now under their belts, it feels like they’ve earned this headlining slot and should make the most of it with a great rock show.
Catch if you can: Phantogram [8:45-9:45, The Grove Stage]
Phantogram have been on a quick ascent to stardom these last few years, and their latest album Voices has earned them at least one bonified hit single so far thanks to “Fall In Love.” Their cross-genre pollination of synth-pop, trip hop, dream pop and EDM makes for fun and energetic live shows too.
Must see: Jungle [12:45-1:30, Samsung Galaxy Stage]
Funk and soul are alive and well thanks in no small part to London-based collective Jungle, who manage to nail the genre’s signature wobbly bass lines, tribal polyrhythms, echo-laden synths and falsetto vocals. Their self-titled debut album falls somewhere between Jamiroquai and TV on the Radio, which is actually pretty fun until it starts to wear thin after awhile. Still, their live show should be a great time. Bring your dancing shoes.
Catch if you can: Benjamin Booker [12:50-1:30, The Grove Stage]
The New Orleans-based singer-songwriter who’s largely influenced by blues musicians like Hound Dog Taylor and Blind Willie Johnson. Yet he also pulls from Southern gothic and psychobilly traditions, all of which leads to a pretty incredible sound. Having incredible guitar skills and a voice like sandpaper is a big help too. His debut album will be out in a couple of weeks, so go see his set for a preview
Must see: Parquet Courts [1:45-2:45, Palladia Stage]
There’s so much to love about Parquet Courts, from their high energy, messy-sounding post-punk records to their insanely entertaining live shows. It almost always sounds like they’re having an absolute blast, and if you go and see them so will you.
Catch if you can: Wildcat! Wildcat! [1:30-2:15, Lake Shore Stage]
The L.A.-based synth rock trio Wildcat! Wildcat! are friends with Passion Pit and have toured with MS MR, both of which are strong indicators of what their music actually sounds like. It’s not extremely energetic most of the time, but tends to have a smooth, atmospheric beat you can still dance to. Their debut album will be out a couple days after Lollapalooza, and if it’s half as good as their past singles, might seriously make them a band to watch.
Must see: Kate Nash [2:45-3:45, Bud Light Stage]
The progression of Kate Nash from a Lily Allen-esque pop star into a brash, punk rock queen has been both astonishing and cool. Her latest album is filled with smart and tenacious feminist anthems, and in a live setting Nash and her girl gang band are equal parts fun and badass.
Catch if you can: Phosphorescent [2:15-3:15, Samsung Galaxy Stage]
Phosphorescent’s Muchacho was one of 2013’s finest records, a collection of gorgeous, sun-baked folk and alt-country. Matthew Houck and his band do a fantastic job of recreating that majesty and adding a touch of energy when performing. If you can find a nice spot to relax during this set, you’ll probably enjoy it all the more.
Must see: Duke Dumont [3:15-4:15, Perry’s Stage]
Duke Dumont is part of a wave of UK house-pop producers (such as Disclosure) who are taking the EDM world by storm. By pairing house music constructs with pop vocals, he and artists of his ilk are quickly changing what dance music can be in 2014. He’s got a debut album coming soon, but in the meantime his run of recent singles has been nothing short of brilliant.
Catch if you can: John Butler Trio [3:45-4:45, Palladia Stage]
The John Butler Trio are best described as a roots, folk and jam band, though pinning them down to those specific genres may be a little too limiting. They’ve evolved quite a bit over the years, and with each new record the Australian band seems to gain greater popularity across the United States. Their latest record treads a little closely to folk-pop for the Mumford set, but dig a little deeper into their catalog to find some of the real gems.
Must see: Gramatik [4:30-5:30, Perry’s Stage]
There are some who would argue that EDM is starting to get a little stale and needs to find a way to innovate sooner rather than later. The antidote? Gramatik. The Slovenian producer approaches EDM in creative and unique ways, crafting a strong blend of electronica, funk and hip hop, among other genres. Not only that, but he’s a strong believer in digital freedom, giving away his entire catalog for free and only asking for at-will donations in return. Looking for the future of EDM? Look no further.
Catch if you can: Rich Homie Quan [4:00-4:45, The Grove Stage]
If you’re interested in one of the future stars of hip hop, you won’t need to look much further than Rich Homie Quan. The Atlanta rapper has been all over urban radio and even popped up in the BET Awards in the last year, thanks in no small part to the killer mixtape I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In.
Must see: Nas [5:45-6:45, Palladia Stage]
He’s celebrating the 20th anniversary of his classic album Illmatic, so expect that to dominate a fair portion of his set. Toss in a bunch of his other hits over the years, and you’ve got one of, if not the best hip hop set on Saturday (for some thoughts on Outkast, see below).
Catch if you can: Joywave [5:40-6:20, BMI Stage]
Joywave’s sound is difficult to describe, and that’s a good thing. They’re most often described as an indie pop band, but they have such heavy electronica influences and do so much remixing it’s probably better just to say that they’re a dance band. But they’re also an experimental dance band, and collaborations with artists like KOPPS and Big Data have yielded some fiercely addictive and fun singles that will stick with you for quite awhile.
Must see: Spoon [6:45-8:00, Bud Light Stage]
Spoon are back from a bit of a break, and have a great new album coming out next week called They Want My Soul. They’re also an incredibly dynamic and fantastic live band. Expect a lot of new stuff, plus a strong collection of old favorites.
Catch if you can: Vic Mensa [6:50-7:30, BMI Stage]
When Chicago band Kids These Days broke up last year, Mensa set out on his own and has been making waves ever since. His debut mixtape Innanetape is a remarkable collection of varying styles and influences, which has gone a long way towards separating him from a lot of other hip hop artists. He’s also friends and collaborates with Chance the Rapper, so perhaps they’ll do something together during his set?
Must see: Jenny Lewis [7:45-8:30, The Grove Stage]
Lewis just released her first solo album in six years this week, and it ranks among the best things she’s ever done across her entire career. Not only that, but her lovely blend of folk and alt-country should be a perfect mood-setter at the tree-lined Grove stage while the sun sets on Grant Park.
Catch if you can: The Head and the Heart [7:15-8:15, Lake Shore Stage]
There are people who absolutely love The Head and the Heart. Their brand of no frills, mainstream folk music is pleasing enough to earn them plenty of radio airplay and a devoted fan base. If you can’t tell, there’s very little else happening in this time slot.
Must see: Outkast [8:15-10:00, Samsung Galaxy Stage]
Here’s the thing about the Outkast reunion: If you want to hear Big Boi and Andre 3000 run through hits and deep cuts for two hours, that’s exactly what you’re going to get with their headlining set. If you want to know what the set list is going to be, just look at any of their shows from the past few months because it hasn’t changed a single bit. Even much of the stage banter is the same. Oftentimes it looks like the two of them don’t even want to be on stage together either. So sure, you’ll get to hear all your Outkast favorites, and they’ll get to collect a big fat paycheck.
Catch if you can: Cut Copy [9:00-10:00, The Grove Stage]
If you love to dance, but don’t particularly like the whole world of EDM and their occasional “just push play” mentality, there’s Cut Copy for you. They’ve had a string of great dance records these last few years, and are a dynamic live band that know how to throw a party. if you watch their set and don’t at least tap your feet throughout, there’s probably something wrong with you.
Must see: Bear Hands [12:00-12:45, Lake Shore Stage]
Bear Hands are clearly a band with a bright future ahead of them. Their latest album Distraction was exactly that, because it pulled you away from whatever else you might be doing or thinking about to focus on their heavily dance-oriented synth pop. If you’ve ever wondered what Passion Pit might sound like if they were even more mainstream and had a less high pitched singer, here’s your answer. Oh, and their live show? Absolutely dynamite.
Catch if you can: Kongos [12:15-1:00, Palladia Stage]
This one’s going to be huge with the alt-rock set, who have undoubtedly been subjected to songs like “I’m Only Joking” and “Come With Me Now” almost nonstop these last few months. They’re not bad songs, and it’s easy to understand why Kongos are one of 2014’s biggest success stories so far. Will they capitalize on it further with a great early afternoon show? Probably.
Must see: Bleachers [1:30-2:15, Lake Shore Stage]
Jack Antonoff from fun. has just released his first solo album under the name Bleachers, and it’s a pretty remarkable collection of upbeat pop songs and introspective ballads. Records like this tend to fail miserably when it comes to creativity and smart songwriting, but Antonoff manages to rise above the fray and excel with the genre.
Catch if you can: Delta Rae [1:45-2:45, Palladia Stage]
On the surface, Delta Rae sound pretty much like most other alt-country bands, complete with acoustic guitars and harmonized group vocals. While it’s charming on record, somehow when the band performs live it’s so much more than that. They’re downright adventurous and exciting to watch, which is quite nice.
Must see: NONONO [2:15-3:00, The Grove Stage]
The Swedish synth-pop trio had a pretty solid hit last year with their song “Pumpin Blood,” and followed it up with a bright and addictive debut full length. If they’re as energetic live as they are on record, their set should be a blast.
Catch if you can: White Denim [2:15-3:00, Samsung Galaxy Stage]
For those in search of a quick energy fix in the early parts of their SUnday, White Denim should deliver in spades. The band operates at an almost frenetic pace, as rarely a year goes by without a new full length album or EP of some sort. Their songs do the same, as they’re packed to the brim with so many ideas in such short periods of time that you need to stop and catch your breath sometimes. They’ve grown more jam-oriented these last couple of years, but for whatever reason they still haven’t slowed down. It should make for one interesting live show, to say the least.
Must see: Run the Jewels [3:45-4:45, Palladia Stage]
The hip hop team-up of Killer Mike and El-P resulted in an incredible self-titled debut album that was one of last year’s best. They’ve just announced that a follow-up record has just been fully mixed, and while there’s no details beyond that yet, it’s a safe bet they’ll be performing a bunch of new stuff at Lollapalooza this year. Having seen their live show last summer as well, trust me when I say it’s not one you want to miss.
Catch if you can: London Grammar [3:00-4:00, Lake Shore Stage]
English trio London Grammar are the sort of band that are easy to fall in love with. They’ve got gorgeous melodies and hooks galore, but also play around a bit, get experimental and downright introspective should the mood suit them. Their debut album If You Wait may not totally fulfill the promise of their early singles, but does enough to make you want to keep an eye on them as they walk the tender line between acts like The xx and Bat for Lashes.
Must see: Cage the Elephant [4:00-5:00, Samsung Galaxy Stage]
It’s been a few years now since Cage the Elephant rose to stardom with “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” but they’ve managed to maintain and grow their fan base significantly since then thanks to a string of pretty strong follow-up singles. Sure, the crowd for their set is going to be huge, but they’re also a pretty great live band.
Catch if you can: The 1975 [4:45-5:30, The Grove Stage]
One thing I can attest to is that The 1975 are good guys who mean well. Their self-titled debut album may have felt a little bit stale, following in the same synth-pop footsteps as Phoenix, Bloc Party and (early) The Killers before them. Yet they also managed to craft a few worthwhile singles, and on stage they’re passionate and energetic about what they do. You certainly can’t fault them for being earnest and trying hard.
Must see: Glen Hansard [5:00-6:00, Lake Shore Stage]
You might best remember Glen Hansard thanks to his team-up with Marketa Irglova in the movie Once and later as The Swell Season. These days he’s keeping true to his roots as a folk troubadour, injecting his acoustic songs with a great sense of urgency and emotion. He’s a grand performer as well, and knows more than a thing or two about showmanship.
Catch if you can: Betty Who [5:40-6:20, BMI Stage]
Several years ago, a little-known pop star called Lady Gaga played a late afternoon set on the BMI Stage. She’d return a couple of years later as a headliner. Betty Who has all the makings of a future pop star, though she’s more likely to end up on the path of a Robyn than a Gaga. Still, it might be wise to see her now on a small side stage before she really catches on.
Must see: Childish Gambino [6:45-7:45, Bud Light Stage]
Childish Gambino has a huge following, and what’s most fascinating to me is that most of those fans are people who rarely listen to hip hop. You could say he’s something of a crossover artist, and Donald Glover’s acting career as part of Community and elsewhere probably helped a bit too. But his last couple of records, including last year’s Because the Internet, haven’t been terrible…so that’s a positive, right?
Catch if you can: The Avett Brothers [6:00-7:15, Samsung Galaxy Stage]
The Avett Brothers have been around for quite awhile, crafting some pretty solid albums of folk and bluegrass inspired tunes. It seems like they keep getting bigger with each new record, too. Maybe one day they’ll be headlining this festival, but for the time being this early evening time slot should suit their majestic melodies nicely.
Must see: Flume [7:15-8:15, The Grove Stage]
If you love electronica artists like Disclosure, Flying Lotus and SBTRKT, Australian producer Harley Streten aka Flume should be right up your alley. He’s massively popular globally, though is still building a fan base in the United States. His amped up and wild Lolla set should win over a whole lot more people.
Catch if you can: Ethan Kath [7:45-8:30, Palladia Stage]
Up until about a week ago, the biggest lineup mystery at Lollapalooza 2014 was “Who is Kausea?” Then the answer was revealed – Crystal Castles’ Ethan Kath in a solo DJ set. While Kath has taken the pre-Skrillex slot and should play some genuinely interesting electronica, I’m wondering if he really is Kausea, or did Kausea drop out and he was brought in as a replacement? Maybe we’ll get further clarification at some point soon.
Must see: Chance the Rapper [8:30-9:45, Perry’s Stage]
Last year, Chance the Rapper performed on the small BMI side stage to a crowd that was so huge it spilled out into some of the walkways and jammed up traffic on that end of the park. Clearly organizers made a mistake putting the young Chicago hip hop star there, and are now going with some serious course correction by letting him headline the final night of the festival on the massive Perry’s stage. He hasn’t put out much more than a couple of new tracks following his Acid Rap mixtape last year, but word on the street is there’s a new album or mixtape on the way very soon, and he’s probably going to perform a bunch of stuff from it during his Lolla set.
Catch if you can: DARKSIDE [8:45-9:45, The Grove Stage]
The team up of Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington resulted in Psychic, which was one of last year’s finest albums. They craft experimental electronica, which is equal parts atmospheric and beat-driven dance tracks. When performing live, they mix live instrumentation with samples, and have a gigantic circular mirror that reflects a spotlight across the crowd. It’s really cool, really fun stuff.