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« Your Lollapalooza 2015 Party Guide Neo Closes Iconic Lincoln Park Location »

Lollapalooza Wed Jul 29 2015

A Gapers Block Guide to Lollapalooza 2015

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Lollapalooza, among Chicago's most notable large-scale music festivals, returns this weekend with a jam-packed schedule in Grant Park. Along with notable veterans including Paul McCartney, there are newly established up-and-comers as well as hometown favorites. We've rounded up our picks for what we think will be the best performances of Lollapalooza 2015 throughout this glorious weekend.

Friday

MisterWives

Synth-heavy dance rock has been on the rise over the past year or two, and the genre will be heavily represented at Lolla this year. What separates MisterWives from the others is the perpetual energy and euphoric playfulness of their frontwoman Mandy Lee, who bounces all over the stage like a kindergartener who's just eaten three pixie sticks. Her voice stands out as well--you want to place her Cranberries-esque twang somewhere in the British Isles when in fact MisterWives hails from New York, and Lee has all the range of Ellie Goulding with more power on the high notes. Highlights of MisterWives' debut album Our Own House include the title track, "Reflections," and "Hurricane," though their whole set should send pulsating urges to dance through your bones. Catch MisterWives on Friday at 1:30 on the Sprint Stage.
-Zach Blumenfeld

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

In the sea of soul revivalists, St. Paul and the Broken Bones stand out. The Alabama band puts all of their hearts into their songs, livening up every one who sees them. This is mostly due to front man Paul Janeway and his amazing showmanship. He has a way of letting his own energy spread out to get any crowd moving. Janeway can easily remind you of a modern day James Brown as he shimmies across stage. In the past St. Paul and the Broken Bones have relied on covers to fill out their set, but since the release of their amazing Half the City they have shown how well their original tracks hold up against the classics.
-Julian Ramirez

Father John Misty
Father John Misty's stage banter alone is reason enough to catch their set Friday afternoon. Frontman Josh Tillman is essentially a performance artist. He plays a character on stage that is much like a whiskey and doped up Hunter S. Thompson meets a hippie cult leader. Their sophomore album I Love You, Honeybear is a brilliantly moody rock'n'roll gem.
-Stephanie Griffin

Broods
The New Zealand brother and sister duo BROODS haven't gotten the attention they deserve here in the States. Granted they have toured with HAIM, Ellie Goulding, and Sam Smith, but they deserve more. Their brand of electronic pop is nice and breezy without ever feeling overly light. If anything Georgia Nott's voice adds a beautiful weight to her and Caleb Nott's instrumentation. They embody the genre so well, especially when they add a little darkness to their songs. BROODS are the perfect band to chill out to under the Hot Lollapalooza sun.
-Julian Ramirez

MS MR
For your moody dream pop fix at Lollapalooza, look no further than New York-based duo MS MR. Frontwoman and powerful vocalist Lizzy Plapinger also happens to be a co-founder of label Neon Gold (see: Charli XCX, HAIM). The duo creates dark soundscapes perfect for synth fans looking to dance.
-Stephanie Griffin

Bear's Den
Beautiful vocal harmonies, Avett Brothers-esque guitar and banjo work, and smooth synth backgrounds define the sound of Bear's Den, a three-piece indie-folk act from London. They should provide a perfect mid-afternoon respite from the heat--chilled-out and earnest enough to act as a comedown from Friday's early acts, but packing a subtle thumping energy that engages the audience. Highlights from Bear's Den's debut album Islands include the gentle, ghostly "Above the Clouds of Pompeii," the mysterious and growling "When You Break," and the sunny, country swing of "The Love We Stole." Catch Bear's Den on Friday at 4:30 on the BMI Stage.
-Zach Blumenfeld

Hot Chip
Hot Chip's electronic music will definitely get a dance party going, especially considering how uniwue their live performances are. The band makes every tour a special event, making their live shows a completely different beast then listening to their records. They are lively and passionate about their music, going as far as they can to enjoy every time they play a song. Instead of playing the same version of "Over and Over" over and over, they mix things up. I've seen them quite a few times and they are constantly changing up their songs. The compositions and even the vocal cadences of the songs are rearranged and reinvigorated, made to sound like completely new songs. They still maintain that feeling of the original but just pop a little bit brighter.
-Julian Ramirez

The War on Drugs
There may have been a time when the War on Drugs was blatantly trying to channel Bob Dylan, Thurston Moore and/or Bruce Springsteen through their music. While that still may be the case here and there, last year's Lost in the Dream was where the all the pieces congealed masterfully. It's a powerhouse guitar album that never bludgeons ears. Yet it commands attention while never boring listeners. And you'll be hard-pressed to hear a better-placed "woo!" all weekend.
-James Ziegenfus

Sylvan Esso
If you haven't seen Sylvan Esso's mesmerizing live performance yet, run, don't walk. If my review of their set at the Hideout Block Party doesn't entice you, imagine yourself surrounded by innovative beats that force you to move, with an electric energy onstage from duo Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn. Watching them groove will transport you to another world entirely as they play out their self-titled debut, including hits "Hey Mami" and my personal favorite, "Coffee," laden with synth-pop phantasmagoria.
-Sarah Brooks

Saturday

Catfish and the Bottlemen

This four-man group from Wales has been at the forefront of Britain's modern alternative rock revival, crafting radio-friendly melodies with a garage edge and lyrics that delve into the details of abject, drunken relationships. The band's most successful single to date, "Kathleen," combines the best attributes of The Temper Trap and The Kooks with howling vocal harmonies and singer Van McCann's clear exasperation with the title character. That aesthetic pervades Catfish's debut album The Balcony, which is full of delightful moments like the funky verses of "Cocoon" and the Grohlian riffing that opens "Pacifier."
Catch Catfish and the Bottlemen on Saturday at 12:45 on the Samsung Galaxy Stage.
-Zach Blumenfeld

Charli XCX

Between writing and featuring on Icona Pop's "I Love It", collaborating with Iggy Azalea on "Fancy", and her own tracks "Boom Clap" and "Break the Rules", Charli XCX is a hit machine. Charli is a pop music aficionado, and she draws from all of her preteen favorites - everything from Britney Spears to Spice Girls to Bow Wow Wow. Her live performance is straight energy, so make sure you're ready to dance.
-Stephanie Griffin

The Tallest Man on Earth
My love affair with the music of Kristian Mattsson follows me back ages, to his first full-length LP, Shallow Grave. Seemingly recorded in the backwoods of a country road on someone's porch, the banjo riffs and smoky folk voice drew me in instantly. With each release, his sound has grown crisper and more unique, but has never lost my interest. His most recent release this past year, Dark Bird is Home, features lush arrangements and crystalline vocal clarity. A set by The Tallest Man on Earth is sure to bring about a spiritual experience among the hushed and reverent crowd.
-Sarah Brooks

Tame Impala

Tame Impala's first two albums are modern psychedelic masterpieces, building atop psych rock of decades past to create something new. So it's no surprise that the element of newness would prevail with recently released Currents, which has eschewed the loud rock guitar aspects of the band's sound in favor of synths. Kevin Parker, Tame Impala's , is reaching out to R&B and soul while letting his sound be engulfed by pop music, all of which is definitely not a bad thing. The psychedelic vibe is obviously still in the music; I doubt anything could take it away. If their past shows are any indication, Tame Impala's set at Lolla will be rife with colorful visuals meant to entrance you even deeper into the music.
-Julian Ramirez

Banks
Downtempo, R&Bish and a little trip-hop might describe Banks. But so would moody and intricate. This doesn't sound like it came from Orange County; it sounds like it was bred out of dreary days. Nonetheless, Banks jumped from a private Soundcloud page to Billboard charts in, like, a year. Since then, the trajectory's been rising for her. A prime spot on a removed stage that hopefully won't be the victim of soundbleed should make this one of the more anticipated (yet overcrowded) sets of the weekend.
-James Ziegenfus

Sunday

Night Terrors of 1927

Night Terrors of 1927 is the indie-pop project of Jarrod Gorbel of The Honorary Title and Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley. If you're a fan of either of their previous work, well, Night Terrors sound absolutely nothing like it. Instead, Night Terrors has a flair for the dramatic and delve into much darker territory than we've seen from either artist in the past.
-Stephanie Griffin

Circa Waves
Think of Circa Waves as a happier version of Catfish and the Bottlemen. The two bands come from the same British garage pop scene (and in fact are playing a Lolla aftershow together on Saturday night at Subterranean), but Circa Waves' riffs are more upbeat and their lyrics are more summery and optimistic. Lead singer Kieran Shudall sounds like a less jaded, reedier Julian Casablancas, particularly on "Young Chasers," the title track from the band's debut album. Highlights of Circa Waves' set should include "T-Shirt Weather," the ideal song for driving around in a convertible, and their latest single, "My Love." Catch Circa Waves on Sunday at 12:45 on the Samsung Galaxy Stage.
-Zach Blumenfeld

Twin Peaks
These local rockers emerge with a penchant for rollicking riffs and a youthful sense of exuberance. With songs reflective of '60s rock, Twin Peaks crafts whimsical songs that pack a punch. Their latest album from 2014, Wild Onion, was met with critical acclaim, and for good reason, and shortly after the group played a head-banging, crowdsurf-inducing set at Pitchfork last summer. For a 1pm set, the group brought out a lively crowd unlike none other, leaving us dazed in the sun following an animated set, left to wonder what time of day it actually was. I am confident that their Lollapalooza performance will bring the same vibes.
-Sarah Brooks

Shakey Graves

The project of Austin-based singer-songwriter Alejandro Rose-Garcia, Shakey Graves started as a one-man band in every stereotypical sense of the word. Even now that he plays and tours with a band, that busker-type grunginess remains prevalent throughout his folksy, hobo campfire-friendly music. The highlight of his set should be "Dearly Departed," a raspy duet with Esmé Patterson with an infectious clapping beat and entertaining back-and-forth banter. Shakey Graves knows how to keep a crowd involved, and he should provide a nice wake-up call to the legions of hung-over on Sunday. Catch Shakey Graves on Sunday at 1:45 on the Palladia Stage.
-Zach Blumenfeld

Strand of Oaks
Reading about Timothy Showalter's life is sort of depressing. The guy's been through a lot. But from pain, anguish and bad luck sprung the ideas that have led to the heavy Americana sound that's earned him accolades. The standout "Goshen '97" from Strand of Oaks' Heal album may be a perfect Dinosaur Jr./My Morning Jacket hybrid, but there's so much more to hear when you dig further. At Tomorrow Never Knows in January, he blew the doors off Lincoln Hall and his music had an emotional wallop that you'd simply never hear on a record. Plus, he covered the Replacements. So, the guy knows how to put on a show.
-James Ziegenfus

Bully

If ever there's a reason to head to the park as early as possible, it's to catch a band that was booked for both Pitchfork and Lollapalooza in the same year. Nashville trio Bully bring the grunge revival where it belongs at Lolla. No strangers to Chicago, Bully recorded their debut album right here at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studio. Their set is a must for anyone nostalgic for the early '90s.
-Stephanie Griffin

Albert Hammond Jr.

Albert Hammond Jr. is no stranger to Lollapalooza having played with The Strokes in 2010, so he'll be comfortable infront of the large crowds and blaring heat. Since that appearance, Hammond has been playing it cool, releasing a couple records with The Stroke and the amazing solo E.P. AHJ. His some's solo work has maintained the sound of the earlier Strokes albums, focusing on the scrappy rock mixed with just the right amount of pop. His live show are pure rock performance, full of all the swagger you'd expect from The Strokes guitarist. He'll be performing two days after the release of his latest album Monetary Masters, which is sounding like another great album in his repertoire.
-Julian Ramirez

TV on the Radio
TV on the Radio's no stranger to Lollapalooza. The eccentric New York band has played numerous times, always giving the crowd a strong taste of their vibrant sound that seamlessly crosses genres. From post-rock to electronic to R&B to traces of dozens of others, they're never dull and they always sound like they could fill stadiums (or parks). Coincidentally, my clearest memory of TVOTR is from Lollapalooza 2009 when two girls no older than 10 were dancing and having a grand old time on the side of the stage during their set. But a curmudgeonly security guard shut them down because, I don't know, they crossed some piece of tape 20 feet away from the band. As long as you don't dance in the wrong place, you can't go wrong.
-James Ziegenfus

 
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