For the laid back, hippie vibe heavy crowd there’s Bonnaroo. For the ultra-hip, always consuming jet set there’s Coachella. And then there’s Lollapalooza staged annually in Chicago’s scenic Grant Park after years of being a rite of passage touring festival. Of the big three American summer music festivals (four if you count Austin City Limits, set for an early autumn start), Perry Farrell’s three-day Windy City showcase blends what the aforementioned Roo & Coach do best, sprinkling in its own unique bents and traditions along the way. You already know the big guns headed for Grant Park this weekend; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Sabbath, Jack White, and The Black Keys will all hold court over the main stages in the Chicago twilight playing to tens of thousands sweaty revelers already a-washed in the afterglow of eight jam packed hours of earlier sets. So how should one fill those day-time reveries? Where can you find the diamonds in the rough playing to slightly sparser crowds, but will ultimately end up being the big blog buzzers come next Monday morning? Here are some mildly educated guesses. (Can’t make it to Chicago this weekend? A handy HDMI cable, some good speakers, and a bucket of beers should give you the vicarious experience along with Lolla’s official Youtube stream which you can find here.)
Animal Kingdom (Google Play Stage – Friday // 12:00 pm)
England seems to have an ever replenishing supply of atmospheric arena reaching rock bands ready for whenever they need a swell of inspiration or life re-affirmation. Enter the British quartet Animal Kingdom who have appropriately drawn comparisons to forebears like Coldplay, Oasis, and Snow Patrol with an epic sound that may feel delightfully out of place staged so early on Lolla’s opening day. Such are the joys of watching a band right on the brink of exploding into the ethereal mainstream. Their formal debut The Looking Away serves up the sort of string sprawling, chorus thumping worthy of their lofty comparisons with standout tracks “The Wave”, “Strange Attractor”, and “Get Away With It” sealing the deal.
Milo Greene (Playstation Stage – Saturday // 12:00pm)
Here’s where things get a little confusing if you’re not paying attention. So fellow ‘Paloozalers Miike Snow are not named after some fictional persona whereas indie-newcomers Milo Greene have been crafting the legend of their namesake since their days in college. So who is Milo Greene and why is he so damned interesting? Well you’ll have to ask the comprising members of his family band; Robbie Arnett, Andrew Heringer, Marlana Sheetz, Graham Fink and Curtis Marrero. Replete in lush guitars and vocals set in front of a lively backbeat, Milo Greene bowls you over without resorting to any conjuring of cheap studio tricks or foibles. Another infinitely interesting noon set to look forward to except this time the setting will only serve to compliment the outdoor festival ready-made sound of Milo Greene.
Chairlift (Google Play Stage – Saturday // 3:30pm)
Slightly of a more relative veteran status compared to the two previous acts mentioned, the enthralling Brooklyn two piece Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift will get their much deserved opportunity to play to what may likely be the largest audience they have yet in their short career. Their breakthrough sophomore slump buster Something establishes a wonderful complete thought with Polachek’s airy croon juxtaposed against themes of revenge, love, and guilt. With such attention to every avant detail on Something it should come as no surprise that it took the band all of eighteen months to record it while building their profile playing shows with like minded New Yorkers MGMT and Yeasayer. Chairlift’s Saturday Lolla set has all the ingredients in a boiling stew to make for one delicious profile launcher with throngs of new fans walking, and dancing, away from the Google Play Stage.
Oberhofer (Bud Light Stage – Sunday // 1:00pm)
The brilliantly eccentric Brad Oberhofer, coming up with his band name not unlike Jon Bon Jovi, has come forward after years spent teaching himself how to play on a broken guitar and walking trails hand in hand with that first real, ultimately fleeting, love. All of these experiences are neatly packaged into the effusive debut Time Capsules II wherein Oberhofer looks to well…encapsulate those tiny moments that some so large, the bits and pieces of life that make him who he is and us who we are. Oberhofer’s true charm comes from the ever present need to speak directly from the heart whether it be in his smile inducing brand of rock melody or in his everyday mannerisms.
“Music is this thing I just inherently do and psychologically, I have a desire to make as many people happy as possible. Music helps you think about stuff, it helps you feel, you know?”
I do know Mr. Oberhofer. That’s why we’re all here.
Imaginary Cities (BMI Stage – Sunday // 3:20pm)
Dwelling below the more high profile young, powerful female voices like Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards is the Canadian soul powerhouse Marti Sarbit of Imaginary Cities. After cutting their teeth with a slew of opening gigs with the Pixies, the band hits Lollapalooza this weekend nearly two years removed from their critically acclaimed first record Temporary Resident. With a few more soul-pop tinged EPs in their back pocket, Imaginary Cities seems poised to feature their road tested material to a larger festival audience before heading back into the studio for part deux in their long form discography.