The Lollapalooza of 2014 is quite a bit different from its original ’90s incarnation. What was once a solidly grunge celebration of founder Perry Farrell’s “Alternative Nation” and national tour is now an annual 3-day destination event. This king of music festivals in Chicago features a dizzying array of genres, and while the focus and location of Lollapalooza have changed, the commitment to pairing the best new bands with top-selling acts remains the same. For your perusal, here are 3 up-and-coming artists you need to see this year at Lollapalooza.
A Scottish electronic band, Chvrches may be an easier sell in their home continent than ours (and, yes, they insist you spell their name with a V and not a U). But at a festival headlined by Eminem, Outkast, Kings of Leon, and Skrillex, they might be a welcome counterpoint to all that overtly male energy.
Their synthpop sound is easily recognizable, and it’s hard not to sing along with their chart-topping hits like “Lies” and “The Mother We Share,” two of their top tracks. It’s hard to say exactly what Chvrches will give us onstage when they play from 5:30-6:30pm Friday at the Lake Shore stage, but you should expect at least one surprise from a band that’s covered tunes from Game of Thrones, Rage Against The Machine, and fellow Lolla 2014 artist Lorde.
For American audiences, Lykke Li has seemingly followed that famous dictum about children: her uniquely Swedish name has been seen in plenty of magazines and blogs, but few of us have actually heard her music. That’s too bad, because Lykke boasts a sound that grips sophisticates without alienating pop listeners. With cinematic compositions spread out over instruments ranging from trumpets and violins to synthesizers, her music is probably best introduced to your friends on a long car ride rather than on a Top 40 radio station.
Famous for emotional live renditions of her songs that seem at once stripped down and widescreen-epic, Lykke Li is a perfect fit for festivals in Chicago like Lollapalooza. Her set is an hour after Chvrches on the Lake Shore stage (Friday, 7:30-8:30pm). It also overlaps with Lorde’s 6:45-7:45pm Bud Light stage set, so if her music puts you to sleep, you can always leave early and start heading Lykke’s way.
Clearly continuing with a girl-power theme, next we come to Warpaint. Gender aside, Warpaint deserves a spot on your schedule because they push guitar-driven music in more interesting directions than any other band playing festivals in Chicago.
Ethereal, plaintive, hard-rocking, psychedelic, and borderline-prog – often in a single song – Warpaint is a fascinating band that will get you amped up Friday 3:30-4:30pm on the Lake Shore stage. If you still doubt that this is Warpaint’s year, consider that their new album completes the trifecta of prerequisites for a breakout: big name producer (Mike Ellis) and mixer (Nigel Godrich), the lead single appears in a famous brand’s ad, and, most importantly, it’s self-titled.
BONUS ROUND (Veteran Band Edition)!
With their current lineup stretching back to 1998, AFI’s members haven’t been up-and-comers for a long time; they’re practically elder statesmen in rock star years. AFI solidified their signature horror-punk sound with slower alt-rock grooves on 2000’s “The Art of Drowning” and broke through with the single “Girl’s Not Grey” from their next album in 2003. Older fans will find AFI has evolved nicely without losing their core sound, finally embracing the goth influences with which they merely flirted before.
The only problem? AFI’s 5:45-6:45pm set on the Palladia stage Friday is almost the exactly the same time as Chvrches’ performance. Choices, choices!
Pumped yet? Even though some are calling this year’s Lollapalooza a disappointing lineup compared to other festivals in Chicago like Pitchfork and Riot Fest, you should have a pretty good time on Friday with these recommendations.
Readers, what do you think? What are your picks for Saturday and Sunday? Let us know if the comments below!
Photo by Sam Howzit