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Which Headliner Should You See At Lollapalooza?

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 29, 2015 6:20PM

Florence + the Machine is one of your choices for headlining acts on Sunday

Lollapalooza has a history of offering tough choices when it comes to picking which headlining act to see. In recent years it's grown even tougher as the smaller stages have sets up against the "traditional" headlining acts as well. This year is no different so below we break out which acts are playing and offer our recommendations about which to see.

Photo by MJ Kim, courtesy Paul McCartney

The Weeknd (Bud Light stage) vs. Paul McCartney (Samsung Galaxy Stage)

Who are they: The Weeknd has come a long way since mysteriously dropping his 3 mixtape of spooky, sultry, otherworldly R&B in 2011. And when we saw him perform at Lincoln Hall the following year we were surprised at just how physical and energetic his live set was. So we’re not surprised to see him on the precipice of mainstream with high-profile guest appearances on tracks like Ariana Grande’s “Love Me Harder.”

Across Grant Park Paul McCartney basically wrote the book on how to put on a rock show, and hasn’t stopped re-writing that book, even after five decades of touring. His live sets pulse and throb with energy and his backing band is probably the best he’s assembled since that original quartet he was part of. If we close our eyes we can still feel the heat coming off the stage during his set at Wrigley Field a few years ago.

Who you should see: You’d really even consider passing up the chance to see a Beatle? C’mon, Paul McCartney wins this one hands down.

Other options: Just want to get your dance on as the evening closes, without having to think at all? Then head over to sees Flying Lotus on the Pepsi stage or Kaskade on Perry’s stage.


Sam Smith (Bud Light stage) vs. Metallica (Samsung Galaxy Stage)

Who are they: A delicate crooner is up against metal stalwarts, and this is actually one of the few headliner face-offs in Lollapalooza history that probably doesn’t require a hard decision by fans. If you’re the kind of person that really wants to see Sam Smith, you’re probably not going to feel bad about missing Metallica.

Who you should see: While Metallica are not the same band this writer first saw at Poplar Creek Music Theater in 1989—a show where their opening band, The Cult, got booed off the stage because Metallica fans were SO METAL—they’re still a potent live act. As long as they don’t trot out a symphony or something lame like that, their set will probably be the best.

Other options: Bay Area resident G-Eazy’s laid back rapping should draw a decent crowd to the Pepsi stage but if you’re still looking to rage Alesso’s set on Perry’s stage will provide the requisite drops to draw out your night. Also, with Tove Lo also on the Lollapalooza bill, you might actually get a chance to hear her live vocals on “Heroes (we could be)” should she decide to make a guest appearance.

NERO, photo via their Facebook page

Bassnectar (Bud Light stage) vs Florence + the Machine (Samsung Galaxy stage)

Who are they: Florence + the Machine is fronted by the bellowing, melodramatic vocal delivery of Florence Welch, whose overblown and over-the-top histrionics somehow became popular and beloved by the masses. We don’t get it. Across the field, Bassnectar’s own overblown and over-the-top EDM will keep the north side of the park throbbing and dancing and doing lots and lots of drugs as they slip into his more psychedelic DJ style.

Who you should see: Ugh, neither? And your other options are either the EDM-lite of Kygo on the Pepsi stage or the even more overblown and over-the-top-EDM of NERO on Perry’s stage. We’re going to tip our hat to NERO as the act to see between all four if you’re insistent on seeing Sunday night through to its bitter end. Their approach is a little more inventive and entertaining, but we could also see you picking Bassnectar for the possibly larger light show, and his slightly subtler touch. Sunday night is totally you’re call, you’re on you're own.