by Ashley Kolpak
Living downtown Chicago definitely has its perks, but little beats the rush of excitement that comes each time I traverse past Grant Park. The first weekend of August is quickly approaching. Slowly but surely, music fans are preparing themselves for the crowning jewel of Chicago’s summer festival season: the one, the only – Lollapalooza.
The iconic fest is a world-renowned showcase of talent, food, fun, and teenagers riding high on illegal substances. It’s a smorgasbord of concert-goers from across the country, on either their best or worst behavior. Come for the music, stay for the outlandish people-watching. It’s a trip, to be certain.
If you managed to swipe some tickets for the 2014 affair, odds are you are hard at work fine-tuning your perfect schedule with the handy social plug-ins featured on Lolla’s website. The great thing about the festival layout is, unless you need to get from Monroe Street to Balbo Avenue in less than 10 minutes, catching a set or two in a short time frame is more than doable. If you’re the teenage kid barreling in from suburban Chi, feel free to head straight to Perry’s Stage and park it for a weekend full of EDM sets. For those of us who are a touch old to pull off the bandeau/flower crown/short-shorts look, there are plenty of delightful shady areas to stave off Lollapalooza fatigue.
In addition to the eclectic roster of artists, there is a wide selection of (just slightly overpriced) food to enjoy. And what would a festival be without a green craft fair, a farmer’s market and a special kid’s stage dedicated to entertaining the smallest Lollapalooza enthusiasts. This year marks the debut of Lolla Cashless. Festival-goers can link up their credit/debit card to their wristband ahead of time. It’s a cool innovation; let’s see how it goes.
Didn’t manage to pick up a ticket? Not exactly the festival type? Not a huge deal. That’s what aftershows are for. Tickets sell out, so move quickly to score a spot to see one of your favorite artists away from the Grant Park stages.
So, what bands to see? That’s the question. Here are some indie (ish) acts we’re excited to see at this year’s fest. Breaking it down by day:
Above & Beyond: Should be a set of sun-drenched, hazy, happy electronica; basically the perfect way to set a tone for the Lolla weekend. The London-based trio’s latest single, “Blue Sky Action,” is what summer festival dreams are made of.
CHVRCHES: If you haven’t been able to get “The Mother We Share” out of your head for the past year, don’t miss your chance to delight in the indie-electronic stylings of Lauren Mayberry and crew. Hopefully they will bust out their killer cover of Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right, But it’s OK” (fingers crossed).
Hozier: Let a wave of unadulterated soul wash over you with Hozier’s performance. Hozier’s voice is incredibly engaging in tone and timbre. Think the richness of Sam Smith, but a little deeper. Discover more Friday afternoon at the Palladia stage.
Other Acts We Don’t Want to Miss: Interpol, Bombay Bicycle Club, Lorde, Jagwar Ma, Blood Orange, Iggy Azalea, Phantogram. Must-See Friday Headliner: Arctic Monkeys.
Jungle: It’s an early set, but judging on their breakthrough single, “Busy Earnin’,” this is a band to keep an eye on. The London-based duo’s funk-drenched sound is wildly appealing. This year, they’ve been playing secret gigs in the UK and hiding under a shroud of mystery. It’ll be exciting to see them on stage with the (Lolla) world watching.
Parquet Courts: A little lo-fi rock missing from your lineup? Enter Parquet Courts. Curly hair, skinny jeans, Brooklyn attitude, gritty/underground sound: if that’s your thing, it’s hard to go wrong with this concert. They’re playing an aftershow at the Empty Bottle on Friday. Ukrainian Village hipsters and the like should take advantage and catch them there.
Spoon: This Austin quintet is back with a vengeance, dropping singles like mad and pounding the tour circuit pavement in anticipation of their upcoming release, They Want My Soul. We hope this show is entertaining as their cool brand of quirky, artsy, indelibly cool pop tunes.
Other Acts We Don’t Want to Miss: Benjamin Booker, Vance Joy, Nas, Wildcat! Wildcat!, Joywave, Martin Garrix. Must-See Friday Headliners: Cut/Copy & Outkast
Flume: If you haven’t heard a Flume remix, do yourself a favor and hop over to Spotify/YouTube/what-have-you right now (his take on Lorde’s “Tennis Court” is a personal favorite). The 22-year-old Aussie produces music that is slick, danceable, and impressive. It’s a DJ set we’re highly anticipating.
Chromeo: So, you want to dance. You have no desire to attend a packed-to-the-gills DJ set. We feel you. Chromeo is the band for you. Often silly, always fun, Chromeo’s brand of disco-infused power pop is simply irresistible. Shake your groove thing to the likes of killer singles like “Over Your Shoulder” and “Jealous (I Ain’t With It).”
The 1975: These Manchester dudes are a dirty boy band complete with an overly coiffed, smoldering front man. They are a perfect little antidote to the OneDirections of the world, putting out pop hits with their own particular edge. They’ve got a cheeky attitude, a good prerequisite for any concert experience.
Other Acts We Don’t Want to Miss: Glen Hansard, Flosstradamus, RAC, Bleachers, Bear Hands. Must-See Friday Headliners: It’s a toss-up – Kings of Leon?
It’s coming. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s Lollapalooza. Have fun, go to as many shows as humanly possible, stay safe and enjoy Chicago summer while it lasts.
Photo by Dave Mead, courtesy of Lollapalooza