Our Lollapalooza 2016 Picks
It’s that time of year again. Lollapalooza (July 28 – July 31, 2016 – Grant Park – Chicago, IL) is back celebrating its 25th Anniversary and its 12th year as a multi-day Chicago festival.
All the bands, all the after parties, and we will be there. We took a little time to let you know which artists we’re most excited to see this weekend.
And since they added a fourth day to the fest it’s going to be an even longer than normal weekend. So make sure to wear comfortable shoes and drink lots of water. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
MODERN BASEBALL (Buck)
(Performing on FRIDAY, July 29 at 1:45 p.m. on the PETRILLO BANDSHELL)
The purpose of art is to present a relatable context from which one can draw upon his or her own experiences and attach a personal meaning to the content of the piece. Regardless of the medium, honesty and vulnerability are two things that have always hit me the hardest when listening to music. Modern Baseball’s two singers, Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewald, have an uncanny, inherent knack for painting vivid pictures of the human narrative and what so many of us feel, or felt like, in our early twenties.
The band has released three full-length albums since 2012, which is pretty impressive considering they were in college for the first two. I recall when I first discovered MoBo, I contacted their agent about playing Riot Fest 2014 and he responded with, “The band is going back to school in the fall to finish up, so we have no touring plans.” They were in college and able to make these incredible albums with such emotional depth! I knew they were destined for greatness.
Do me a favor. Listen to these three songs by Modern Baseball: “The Weekend”, “Rock Bottom”, and “The Thrash Particle”. If you’re not a fan after that, you’re not human. Oh, and they also do a sick cover of “When You Were Young” by The Killers!
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS (Riot Fest Mom)
(Performing on SATURDAY, July 30 at 9:00 p.m. on the SAMSUNG Stage)
Before you were born your father and I had a…how should I put this…more active personal life. I heard the song “Give It Away” on the radio and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to give away.
Your father brought home the record “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” and we didn’t leave the house for 3 days. I don’t remember much about that weekend – it’s all a little hazy. I vaguely remember your father screaming that the band would never go on without John Frusciante. Anyway, The Red Hot Chili Peppers are a special band for your father and me. If you’re interested in seeing them we could all go together as a family and cram in the mini-van!
Of course “Mother’s Milk” is my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers album! It’s a musical masterpiece! From “Good Time Boys” to “Sexy Mexican Maid” how can you deny the superiority of this album? Just take a look at the lyrics to “Nobody Weird Like Me”
Riding down the path
On the back of a giraffe
Me and the giraffe laughed
Cause I passed some gas
OH WONDER (Jen)
(Performing on SUNDAY, July 31 at 1:30 p.m. on the LAKESHORE Stage)
Lollapalooza Sunday at 1:30pm? Woof. However, if there was ever a band worth checking out at that time slot, it would be Oh Wonder. I first saw them at Lincoln Hall in January of this year. I had been listening to their self-titled debut album on repeat for weeks and had high expectations for this alt-pop duo. They killed it. Super beautiful, mellow, slow-grooving, R&B influenced songs. Perfect for swaying, which is, I’m sure, the only movement you’ll be able to muster in the 900º heat after three full days and nights of Lolla-grade partying. Josephine Vander Gucht’s calming vocals alongside Anthony West’s subtle harmonies will soothe your soul and breathe life into your festival-worn body. But, just in case you think you miiiiight not make it to Grant Park that early after raging all weekend, I suggest you check them out at the Aragon Ballroom Saturday night at 7:30pm.
FRONT BOTTOMS (Jake)
(Performing on SATURDAY, July 30 at 3:15 p.m. on the LAKESHORE Stage)
The Front Bottoms are a band that I have been a fan of for a few years now, but I have never been able to see them live. They opened Say Anything’s summer 2012 tour, but I was late to the show and missed their set. We have had them on a few Riot Fest shows (again with Say Anything in 2014 and then at RF Chicago 2014), but I couldn’t make either of those sets either. (Work, man…ya know?)
I have heard the tales though! Their shows are known to be a fun, raucous party, complete with inflatable wavy-arm people and all…and they’ve got the tunes to boot! If you have seen them before, I’m sure it’s an easy decision to post up at the Lakeshore Stage next Saturday for their 3:15-4:15 set. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and check ’em out!
THE STRUTS (Riot Fest Twitter Guy)
(Performing on FRIDAY, July 29 at 2:15 p.m. on the SAMSUNG Stage)
Do you like over the top retro glam rock from the UK? Then you should go see The Struts. Their live show never disappoints. “It’s fun. It’s colorful. It’s vibrant. It’s just rock n’ roll really. People want to call it glam and whatnot, the only reason why it’s glam is because I like to get dolled up before we go on stage,” front man Luke Spiller says. “So musically it’s just rock n’ roll and you can hear our influences in the music.”
And also go see Jane’s Addiction on Saturday at 6:15. It’s Perry at his festival doing what he does best.
The 1975 (Christina)
(Performing on THURSDAY, July 28 at 7:00 p.m. on the BUD LIGHT Stage)
If you haven’t seen this band live yet, you’re missing out. While you might not believe me – maybe you’re still writing them off as just another British boy band – I promise you’ll be impressed (even if just by the mania that surrounds them wherever they go).
I saw The 1975 on a whim when they played their first US Headliner in Milwaukee back in 2013. At that point, they were still black and white and brooding all over. Ever since, I’ve watched them grow into the pop phenoms they are today.
It’s no secret I’m a sucker for an emphatic front man, and Matty Healy might be one of the most captivating. At any point during the show, you’ll see him dancing around stage with a bottle of wine, commanding the crowd like a veteran.
Healy, along with the rest of the band – bassist Ross MacDonald, Adam Hann on guitar and drummer George Daniel – have conceptualized one of the most impressive (and instagram-able) stage and lighting designs I’ve ever seen. Think cityscapes and hypnotic color changes timed perfectly to the band’s’ new soulful sound.
You won’t see me anywhere but their stage Thursday night dancing to a band that has become my own personal “John Hughes movie soundtrack” to my early 20s.
(Performing on FRIDAY, July 29 at 4:00 p.m.on the SAMSUNG Stage)
I am excited to see Foals at Lollapalooza; this will be my first time seeing them live. They have a reputation of being an excellent live band and have played Glastonbury and Coachella in the past.
Although Foals have been around since 2005, they gained a wider audience in the US following the success of their single, “Mountain At My Gates,” which was released in July 2015. “Mountain At My Gates,” is off Foals’ most recent album, What Went Down. The whole album is really solid and has been one of my go-to albums for the past year. Foals’ sound is hard to describe, overall they have some synth elements with a driving rock beat. The band cites Foo Fighters and Talking Heads as influences; however, I have also seen them compared to MGMT, Bloc Party and Two Door Cinema Club.
(Performing at on FRIDAY, July 29 at 9:00 p.m.on the PEPSI Stage)
I’m really looking forward to catching Ghost at Lolla this year, since I missed them the last time they played the fest in 2013. This band is so intriguing and controversial, masterfully intertwining the art of musical genius and theatrical performance into one.
If you’re unfamiliar with Ghost, they’re a Swedish metal band with a vocalist dressed as a satanic pope (Papa Emeritus III), backed by 5 “Nameless Ghouls” whose faces are hidden by demonic masks. They never break character or reveal their true identities, so there’s this air of anonymity to them that I find really intriguing.
If you’re from Chicago, and you enjoy tasty burgers, you should remember this band from the Kuma’s Corner “Ghost Burger” controversy a few years back. The heavy metal burger bar created the Ghost Burger to pay homage to the band through a 10 oz goat and beef patty, ghost chile aioli, white cheddar cheese, braised goat shoulder, red wine reduction and communion wafer garnish. Local religious institutions didn’t find this very funny, but I thought the burger was wickedly divine.
Anyway, their latest album Meliora is awesome. There’s not one song on there I don’t like and I can’t wait to hear some of it in person. They won Best Metal Performance at the Grammy’s this year, so I’m certain they’re going to bring their A game to Chicago.
(Performing on SUNDAY, July 31 at 2:45 p.m. on the BUD LIGHT Stage)
FIDLAR, an acronym for “Fuck it dog, life’s a risk,” are a truly incredible punk rock band.
Here’s what you need to know: Their first album, 2013’s FIDLAR, is all about being a young punk in your early 20s and drinking, doing lots of drugs, and being a scumbag. Their single “Cheap Beer” became an instant classic with its shout-along chorus of “I / DRINK / CHEAP / BEER / SO / WHAT / FUCK / YOU.” You’d think that a band like this would just have novelty appeal and that’s all you’d ever hear from them, but as it turned out, their whole damn album was so well-written and memorable that it kind of made them a lot of fans. Still, I had to wonder, were their lyrics about getting drunk and doing coke for real, or were these guys just heavily embellishing their punk rock lifestyles?
It turns out, not so much.
FIDLAR returned with their second album, Too, in 2015 and it was full of songs about going to rehab, regretting years of poor choices and railing against concerned friends and family. So these guys, or at least singer Zach Carper, really were writing songs about their lives and making totally relatable lyrics about both living in the gutter and in recovery. And you know what? That’s hard to do. I raise my cheap beer to them for writing catchy garage-punk songs about such emotionally raw life experiences, and for making a done-to-death band setup of two guitars, bass and drums sound as fresh and as relevant as ever.