The essential guide to Lollapalooza 2015 | Music Feature | Chicago Reader

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The essential guide to Lollapalooza 2015

These 30 Lollapalooza acts are worth running around Grant Park to see.


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Sunday, August 2

  • Ely Corliss

12-12:30 PM | In the Whale | Pepsi Stage

The Black Keys' rise to ubiquity in mainstream rock is still kind of surprising, but their subsequent influence isn't. The notion that all you need to start a band is an old guitar and a rickety drum kit is no doubt inspiring—and minus the "old" and "rickety," that's what renegade Denver two-piece In the Whale use to play their reckless, metal-tinged blues-rock. The band describe themselves as "the Kenny Powers of music," and there's no mistaking their intentions. Their songs are loud, brash, and messy, best paired with a set of earplugs and the cheapest beer you can find. Also Sat 8/1 at Thalia Hall with headliner Gogol Bordello, sold out, 17+. Drew Hunt

  • Courtesy Lollapalooza

1:10-1:50 PM | Zebra Katz | BMI Stage

The frighteningly fabulous world of rapper Zebra Katz, inspired by Japanese horror movies, creepy high fashion, and bad psychedelic drug trips, blossomed from the mind of his alter ego, queer New York performance artist Ojay Morgan. After Rick Owens chose Katz's menacing and minimal ballroom track "Ima Read" to score his Paris Fashion Week show in 2012, the record blew up around the world, eventually generating remixes by artists such as Tricky, Azealia Banks, Grimes, and Busta Rhymes. Katz has dropped two intoxicating mixtapes, Champagne (2012) and DRKLNG (2013), and he's now releasing a six-part series of dark films to promote his latest EP, a haunting, clattering collaboration with London-­based producer Leila called Nu Renegade. Also Thu 7/30 at Berlin, $15, $12 in advance, 21+. Emily Orn­berg

  • Giles Clement

1:45-2:45 PM | Shakey Graves | Palladia Stage

Before settling in Austin, Texas, Alejandro Rose-Garcia tried out open mikes in New York and frequented the folk scene in Los Angeles—and those travels helped influence the distinctive, organic voice of his stage persona, Shakey Graves. After trying his hand at an acting career (he had small roles in Spy Kids 3-D and Friday Night Lights, among other productions), Rose-Garcia ventured into music, eventually adopting the rustic, foot-stomping rock 'n' roll of his latest album, last year's And the War Came (Dualtone). Rose-Garcia is a natural performer, and shouldn't have any trouble translating the record's energy for a Lollapalooza crowd—he might be a one-man band, but he can make enough music to fill a stage. Also Sat 8/1 at Park West with headliners Angus & Julia Stone, sold out, 18+. Cassidy Ryan

Fifty-four Lollapalooza aftershows all in one place

  • Daniel Dorsa

2:50-3:30 PM | Skylar Spence | Pepsi Stage

A few years ago—about the same time the vaporwave scene he belonged to started publicly disbanding—Long Island producer Ryan DeRobertis began transmogrifying chintzy 80s sounds into R&B slow jams under the name Saint Pepsi. On those early recordings he displayed a thoughtful understanding of what makes pop music tick, and he's retained that understanding through his transition from the woozy tunes of Saint Pepsi to the earnest, enthusiastic electronic tracks he's making as Skylar Spence. His forthcoming debut album, Prom King (Carpark), glows with radio-ready warmth and ephemeral energy, and "Can't You See" is one of my favorite summer songs this year. Leor Galil

  • Charlotte Rutherford

3:30-4:30 PM | Marina & the Diamonds | Sprint Stage

"Happy," the opening track on the newest Marina & the Diamonds album, this spring's Froot (Neon Gold), is sparse and delicate, but don't be misled: the rest of the record consists mostly of sweeping, pulsing synth-pop that uses Marina Diamandis's ethereal voice to power a dance party rather than an indie-rock chamber group. The title track, with its funky bass line and electronic disco beat, is practically built for a festival setting, where there's room to kick up dust while wearing your very best collection of illuminated jewelry. Diamandis can sound brooding, but that's never the only note she strikes: she can rip loose for an anthemic chorus or push a catchy hook so hard you'd think it'd end up on the radio from sheer force of will. Also Sat 8/1 at Concord Music Hall, $28.50, 18+. Kevin Warwick

  • Courtesy Lollapalooza

4:35-5:30 PM | Logic | Perry's Stage

In the short time that D.C.'s hip-hop scene has been robust enough to enjoy a national profile, its big story has been street rap. Shy Glizzy and Fat Trel are arguably making some of the best songs in the city proper, but if you widen your view to include the DMV (that's the District, Maryland, and Virginia), you can find MCs who've had more success: the latest is Bobby Hall, aka Logic, a 25-year-old rapper from Gaithersburg, Maryland. His debut, 2014's Under Pressure (Def Jam), reached number four on the Billboard 200, and it beautifully displays his introspective lyricism and battle-rap flow. Also Sat 8/1 at Bottom Lounge, sold out, 18+. Leor Galil

  • Courtesy Wild Belle Press

5:15-6 PM| Wild Belle | Pepsi Stage

It's been a couple years since Barrington-­born siblings Elliott and Natalie Bergman released Wild Belle's first and only album, Isles (Columbia)—a breezy if somewhat insubstantial concoction of quasi-Caribbean pop and soul—and they've been pretty quiet since, apart from a recent cameo on the new Major Lazer album and a gig modeling Gap clothes for Spin magazine. But a new Wild Belle album is on the horizon, and given that they collaborated on it with Diplo and Beck producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, it seems likely to have a more electronic sound. Today's show ought to pull the curtain back on some of that new material. Also Thu 7/30 at Berlin with headliner Zebra Katz, $15, $12 in advance, 21+, and Sat 8/1 at Lincoln Hall, sold out, 18+. Peter Margasak

  • Courtesy Pitchfork

5:40-6:20 PM| Bully | BMI Stage

Nashville's Bully hold together their perfectly balanced hybrid of ecstatic, indie-­flavored pop-punk and down-and-dirty grunge with the spit and phlegm in the scratchy, snarling vocals of front woman Alicia Bognanno. On their recent full-length debut, Feels Like, (StarTime International), "Brainfreeze" and "Trying" are stark and bare-bones, dependent on Bognanno's spunk and tormented, candid lyrics, while the barreling, punk-fueled "Six" features some of her best Courtney Love yowls. Kevin Warwick

  • Dexter Navy

6:45-7:45 PM| A$AP Rocky | Bud Light Stage

A$AP Rocky has proved himself something of a Renaissance man: like many rappers, he also models, and he recently had a role in Sundance hit Dope. His second album, At. Long. Last. A$AP (A$AP Worldwide/Polo Grounds/RCA), dropped May 26, and it sounds exactly the way a record supposedly written on LSD should sound. It's hazy and layered with a kaleidoscope of tone colors—guitar, synth, trumpet, you name it. "Wavybone" laces its electronic percussion and R&B-inflected vocals with a melodic horn line, and Rocky sometimes comes closer to singing than rapping—he practically croons on "LSD," a love song either to a woman or to the substance of the title. Unlike sometime collaborators Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West, Rocky prefers intricate beats over complicated lyrics. His songs are dreamy, relaxed, and as cool as he is. —Evin Billington

  • Courtesy the artist

7:45-8:30 PM| FKA Twigs | Pepsi Stage

If it were possible to isolate the various facets of last year's LP1 (Young Turks), the debut album from FKA Twigs (aka British singer, producer, and dancer Tahliah Barnett), you could get a very different impression of her depending on which one you heard: she could be a modern R&B singer cooing nasty come-ons, a forward-looking beat maven, or a performance artist with an ethereal pop sensibility. But of course, she does all those things at once. FKA Twigs returns to town after this May's New York staging of Congregata, an ambitious theatrical work featuring a dozen male dancers and a four-piece live band. Only one of those dancers is accompanying her to Chicago, but here's hoping she'll bring some of that performance's newer ideas to her already nuanced live show. Peter Margasak

  • Courtesy Lollapalooza

8:30-10 PM| Florence & the Machine | Samsung Galaxy Stage

Ever since Florence Welch careened into pop-cultural ubiquity with the 2009 hit "Dog Days Are Over"—one of those rare, totally decent self-help radio songs that you and your mom can enjoy together when someone sings it on The View—the UK singer has made a career of splendid musical triumphalism. Her sweeping art-rock-tinged pop, which ranges from emotional and oceanic to really, really emotional and oceanic, showcases her velvety voice and gift for the kind of rushing, soulful melody that leaves fans breathless and nonfans exhausted. Her new LP, How Big How Blue How Beautiful (Island), is typically aswirl in relationship drama and gushing hooks. Florence has a reputation for solid live showmanship too, and she's recovered from breaking her foot at Coachella in April. Following her through mountain-­climbing anthems such as "Third Eye" and "Ship to Wreck" has got to be better for you than listening to Bassnectar. J.R. Nelson  v

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