So you’re headed to Lollapalooza. Whether it’s your first time or your thirteenth (points to self), spending four days in the heart of Grant Park is never easy, but if done properly, is always a ton of fun. And while there are plenty of activities to do and things to consume, the real reason you’re there is to see and hear some of your favorite bands and artists perform as well as maybe make some new discoveries. So in between waiting in line to get in and waiting in line to get a beer and waiting in line to use the restroom and waiting in line to get food, you could realistically catch a good 8-10 performances each day. The punishment on your body won’t be great, but the rewards will likely be worth it when all is said and done. Whether you’ve already planned out your Lolla weekend or are simply going to play it by ear, it helps to at least have an idea of some of the top artists for every hour of every day. This guide is here to help! After the jump is a roadmap to four days of festival fun that will hopefully ensure a quality experience with fewer challenges and scheduling conflicts.
But first! A couple of annual tips about how to manage your time at Lollapalooza, from somebody who hasn’t missed a single day since 2005. First and foremost – prepare for weather! Coat yourself in sunscreen and bug spray before even leaving the house. You’ll thank me later. Bring a poncho, because it’s probably gonna rain at some point. As I’m writing this, the forecast says rain on Thursday and Saturday, so you’ll want to stay dry as best as you can. Wear comfortable but disposable shoes. If it rains at all over the four days, Grant Park will turn into a mud-filled swamp, and your shoes may not survive, so don’t wear your new, flashy sneakers. Don’t pick flip flops or heels, either. You’ll likely be on your feet for several hours each day, and the last thing you’ll want is to feel like your feet are going to fall off. Speaking of which, don’t forget to rest every now and then! Get off your feet by finding a comfortable spot to sit in the grass or dirt. It can be near a stage so you don’t miss anything except maybe some sweaty bodies rubbing up against one another. Just be aware that if you stand the entire time and keep walking between stages, your body will take a huge beating and each subsequent day will be a greater struggle than the one before it. Tons of water helps too, so drink more of that than you’re comfortable with and use the park water stations to keep refilling containers for free. Lastly, a word about stage locations. The Grant Park, Lake Shore and Perry’s stages are all on one side of the park. The Bud Light, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, BMI and Pepsi stages are on the other side. It is about a 15 minute walk from one end of the park to the other. Make sure your daily strategy doesn’t involve too much back and forth otherwise you’ll get worn down fast. Similarly, if you want to see the start of a set taking place on the opposite side of the park, you’ll need to head out early to make it in time. With good planning and everything in moderation, you too can survive Lollapalooza weekend without taking a trip to the medical tent or at least feeling like death for days afterward. Now then, let’s get to that day-by-day artist guide!
12:00-12:30 – Kweku Collins – Pepsi Stage
This rapper/poet/producer from Evanston likes to pair deep lyrics with experimental arrangements, to impressive and inspiring effect.
Listen: Aya ft. Allan Kingdom
12:45-1:30 – White Reaper – Grant Park Stage
They may make good old fashioned garage rock, but White Reaper have the sort of energy, flair and hooks galore to thrill and make you fall in love with them.
Listen: Judy French
1:30-2:30 – Hippo Campus – Lake Shore Stage
Bright, summery and densely packed with hooks, Hippo Campus are the perfect band for an outdoor music festival because you’ll be dancing and singing along even if you don’t know all the words.
Listen: way it goes
2:50-3:30 – Middle Kids – Pepsi Stage
This Australian trio make wistful yet addictive indie rock that’ll have you jumping around one minute and swooning at gorgeous vocal harmonies the next.
Listen: Never Start
3:30-4:30 – The Drums – Lake Shore Stage
Pairing dark lyrics with ’80s styled anthemic melodies, The Drums retain their popularity by being the modern-day answer to what would happen if you crossed The Smiths with The Cure.
Listen: Blood Under My Belt
4:30-5:30 – Liam Gallagher – Grant Park Stage
He’ll probably play some classic Oasis hits, but also count on plenty of new solo material as well, which sounds a lot like Oasis anyways.
Listen: Wall of Glass
5:00-6:00 – Migos – Bud Light Stage
The Atlanta hip hop trio are so much more than their #1 single “Bad and Boujee,” so expect their set to be a lot of fun with many in the crowd shouting along with the lyrics.
Listen: Bad and Boujee
6:30-7:45 – Cage the Elephant – Grant Park Stage
If you’ve listened to any alternative rock radio in the last few years, it’s been almost impossible to escape their effortlessly catchy singles, which will undoubtedly make their set one of the most widely attended on Thursday.
Listen: Cold Cold Cold
7:30-8:45 – Kaytranada – Pepsi Stage
Producer Kaytranada cuts up samples with intense precision, generating an immense genre blend that touches on dance, funk, soul, R&B and much more.
Listen: Lite Spots
7:45-8:45 – Spoon – Lake Shore Stage
With 20+ years and 9 full length albums under their belts, Spoon are indie rock legends at this point, their ramshackle yet bouncy melodies serving as the perfect soundtrack to a Grant Park sunset.
Listen: Hot Thoughts
8:45-10:00 – Lorde – Bud Light Stage
With her critically acclaimed second album Melodrama, New Zealand’s Lorde has firmly established her place as one of the most exciting and talented pop stars of this generation.
Listen: Green Light
12:45-1:45 – The Districts – Grant Park Stage
A high energy band that actively draws from classic rock and blues styles, The Districts pack a real punch but could also benefit from some better hooks.
Listen: Ordinary Day
1:10-1:50 – Slothrust – BMI Stage
A rock band with a growing following, Slothrust blend unconventional guitar riffs with unconventional vocals to craft songs that intrigue and inspire.
1:45-2:45 – The Lemon Twigs – Lake Shore Stage
Co-fronted by the D’Addario brothers, who constantly shift between drums, guitars and lead vocals, The Lemon Twigs craft compelling throwback ’70s style rock complete with plenty of high kicks, jumps, and windmills.
Listen: These Words
3:00-4:00 – Cloud Nothings – Bud Light Stage
One of the most raw punk bands on the Lolla lineup, Cloud Nothings should charge through a loud and incredibly vicious set that will hopefully inspire a few mosh pits and some crowd surfing.
Listen: Modern Act
4:00-4:45 – Mura Masa – Pepsi Stage
This young British producer crafts multiculturally infused electronic music, making him something of a jack of all trades as he bounces from hip hop to reggae to calypso to garage rock and beyond without ever stopping to catch his breath.
Listen: 1 Night (ft. Charli XCX)
5:15-6:00 – Bishop Briggs – Pepsi Stage
The latest in a recent string of darkly influenced pop stars embraced by the alt-rock crowd, Bishop Briggs stands apart thanks to some monster choruses and a voice that demonstrates incredible power and range.
Listen: The Way I Do
6:00-7:00 – Ryan Adams – Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage
There are many Ryan Adams albums, each with their own distinct style and personality, but his most recent sees a return to standard rock compared to his folk and alt-country efforts. He’s a solid live performer, and catch him on the right day with the right set list and it could be spectacular.
Listen: Do You Still Love Me?
6:45-7:45 – Run the Jewels – Grant Park Stage
Guaranteed to be one of the most fun and exciting sets on Friday, the dynamic hip hop duo of Killer Mike and El-P will bounce off one another with unbridled energy, dishing out rhymes and insults so fast it’ll make your head spin.
Listen: Don’t Get Captured
7:45-8:30 – Whitney – Pepsi Stage
Chicago’s own Whitney have been on the rise since the release of their debut album last year, and their breezy, summery folk songs are sure to be the perfect soundtrack to the sunset.
Listen: No Woman
8:45-10:00 – The Killers – Grant Park Stage
Blink-182’s set will be fun and packed with energy and old school hits, while Crystal Castles will go a bit nuts with lots of fast beats and strobes. Both will be solid, but neither quite have the classic hits and panache delivered by the consistent and reliable Killers.
Listen: The Man
12:00-12:45 – Mt. Joy – Lake Shore Stage
A relatively relaxing way to start your Saturday, Mt. Joy make strong folk-pop in a similar style to Alabama Shakes and The Lumineers.
12:45-1:30 – The Shelters – Grant Park Stage
A young rock band that epitomizes the Southern California sound, The Shelters make bouncy and addictive songs that might remind you of The Kooks, The Struts, Band of Horses or even Tom Petty (who co-produced their debut album).
Listen: Rebel Heart
1:30-2:15 – San Fermin – Lake Shore Stage
San Fermin’s chamber-pop songs bear some similarity to The National’s, but with more of an emphasis on horns and strings. Their soaring choruses and spirited live shows should make for a delightful early afternoon treat.
2:15-3:15 – Warpaint – Grant Park Stage
Warpaint make excellent rock music, but so much of it is downtempo and dour that it doesn’t exactly make them dynamic live performers. Still, they’re the best option for their time slot, so maybe find a spot in the grass near the stage and chill for a bit.
Listen: New Song
3:00-4:00 – Alvvays – Bud Light Stage
Alvvays sound like a ’60s AM gold rock band filtered through decay and girl-group melodies. That is to say they make songs that are pleasant, delightful and catchy as hell.
Listen: In Undertow
4:00-5:00 – Highly Suspect – Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage
Heading into the alt-rock section of Saturday, Highly Suspect sound similar to a lot of other rock bands (Chevelle, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Queens of the Stone Age), but with the added bonus of having some incredibly talented guitarists that help to elevate them above their peers.
Listen: My Name Is Human
5:15-6:15 – Royal Blood – Lake Shore Stage
A brawny and brash rock band reminiscent of Local H or Japandroids mixed with Black Sabbath, Royal Blood continue to display growth as they incorporate new sounds into their blistering tracks that have earned them massive popularity in the UK and a formidable audience in the US.
Listen: Lights Out
6:00-7:00 – LIVE – Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage
A classic ’90s rock band reunited for the first time in nearly a decade, LIVE are sure to put on a strong show complete with plenty of old school hits like “I Alone”, “All Over You” and “Lightning Crashes”.
Listen: Lightning Crashes
7:45-8:30 – Sylvan Esso – Pepsi Stage
The electro-pop duo of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn are responsible for two delightfully fun and energized records in the last couple of years, so expect an early evening dance party to push your Saturday to new heights.
Listen: Die Young
8:30-10:00 – Chance the Rapper – Grant Park Stage
After three successful and free mixtapes released independent of any record label, Chance the Rapper achieves one of the biggest moments of his career to date by headlining one of the biggest music festivals in the world in his hometown of Chicago. I’ve seen him perform live a half dozen times now, and his energy and warmth always deliver.
Listen: No Problem (ft. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne)
1:00-2:00 – Barns Courtney – Bud Light Stage
The young folk singer-songwriter Barns Courtney has earned a lot of attention in the last several months for his single “Fire,” and his Lollapalooza set promises more huge choruses with soulful vocals that expose gospel and R&B undertones.
1:50-2:30 – Lo Moon – Pepsi Stage
We’ve only gotten two songs from Lo Moon thus far, and they’re both stunningly gorgeous epics that grab your attention and leave you wanting more. Their Lolla set represents a great opportunity to hear more and learn more about a band that’s likely to find a much larger audience in the coming months.
2:00-3:00 – Joseph – Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage
This trio of sisters create beautiful and upbeat folk songs with incredible vocal harmonies reminiscent of The Staves, First Aid Kit, CSNY or The Beach Boys.
Listen: White Flag
3:00-4:00 – Car Seat Headrest – Bud Light Stage
Will Toledo creates dynamic indie rock under the name Car Seat Headrest, and his creatively subversive twist on melodies combined with whip-smart and emotionally direct lyrics make his music equal parts compelling and addictive.
3:30-4:30 – Charli XCX – Lake Shore Stage
An incredible lyricist who has written mega hits for a number of big name pop stars, Charli XCX operates on the fringes of pop stardom herself, with two great albums and a mixtape that have earned her a fan base that continues to grow on a daily basis. Judging by the huge initial reception for new single “Boys,” it’s likely she’s about to become a household name sooner rather than later.
4:30-5:30 – Tove Lo – Grant Park Stage
A Swedish pop star embraced by the alt-rock crowd, Tove Lo does a fantastic job crafting memorable songs with dark and often sexually explicit themes.
Listen: Cool Girl
5:30-6:30 – London Grammar – Lake Shore Stage
London Grammar specialize in intimate, slow burn electro-pop that pairs exceptionally well with The xx, Bat for Lashes or Florence & the Machine. It should be the perfect soundtrack to your late Sunday afternoon.
Listen: Rooting For You
6:30-7:15 – Sampha – Pepsi Stage
After years of producing and contributing vocals to tracks from Drake, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and more, Sampha finally released his debut album Process earlier this year. It’s a masterful work of electro-soul, packed with dense and beautiful meditations on life and death.
Listen: Blood On Me
8:00-8:45 – Whethan – Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage
Chicago producer and DJ Ethan Snoreckis only 18, but has already attracted a wealth of attention for his remixes which have earned him comparisons to Flume, Skrillex and The Chainsmokers. This year he’s started to put out original material, including a track featuring Charli XCX, that indicates he may be the next big name in electronic music.
Listen: love gang (ft. Charli XCX)
8:30-10:00 – Arcade Fire – Grant Park Stage
Their new record might not be their best, but Arcade Fire still have a stellar back catalog and an incredible commitment to delivering a high quality and fun live show packed with epic and sometimes disco-infused songs.
Listen: Creature Comfort