Lollapalooza 2015: Previewing The Undercard For All 3 Days
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 30, 2015 8:37PM
There is so much going on during Lollapalooza over the next three days, it’d be impossible to outline all of it—and honestly, why would you want to read that anyway?
Instead we’ve asked staff members to share some of the acts from the undercard they’re most looking forward to seeing. If you look at the schedule and just freeze at the sheer number of choices, feel free to use this guide to help you make a few decisions. You’ll see this preview only deals with each day’s undercard, but if you need help picking which headliner to see, we’ve got you covered there too. And, obviously, don't forget to check out our Lollapalooza cheat sheet and survival guide before taking off for the fest. Have fun!
Tove lo, photo by Rankin
Get your afternoon fill of Swede pop:
Tove Lo on the Sprint Stage at 3 p.m.
Sweden's biggest export seems to be irresistible pop music, and Tove Lo is no different. She’s opened for Katy Perry, is old friends with the Icona Pop girls and appeared on stage with fellow Swede Alesso (also appearing at Lolla) at Coachella this year. At 27-years-old, she’s riding high after the release of her first solo album, Queen of the Clouds. The album is broken into three sections—Sex, Love and Pain—and the subject matter and raw lyricism can be predictably simple, but what is young love if not a basic emotional experience? We’d still skip over “Not On Drugs,” a teen-esque anthem that declares, “I’m not on drugs, I’m just in love,” but “Talking Body” and “Habits” are strong songs that will have you moving your feet and asking for more. She’s also got a Lolla aftershow at Concord on Thursday night with Broods.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny
Best chance of being reborn at a music festival:
Father John Misty on the Palladia Stage at 3:30 pm.
Part folk, part rock, a dichotomy lives inside Josh Tillman and Father John Misty. One person inhabiting two very different personas, whic you meet depends on when you come into the Father’s life. Will it be during the hauntingly moody searching life of Tillman, or will you come to believe through the lighter, more humorous (and at times snarky) Father John Misty? Whoever shows up Friday, you are certain to meet a man with a superior sense of language and how words work, a loner-turned-lover-turned-husband, capable of drawing you in as he transforms into who he will become.—Lucy Rendler-Kaplan
Best chance of watching a band along with your kid’s best friend:
Cold War Kids on the Samsung Galaxy Stage at 3:45 pm.
Want to feel immediately old? We were still singing songs from Cold War Kids’ debut album Robbers and Cowards, when Hold My Home was released late last year. Then our teenaged friends (we keep them around just to keep in touch with what the kids are doing, no?) reminded us that first album came out nine years ago. With a new lineup, Cold War Kids are making their way around the festival circuit this summer. Always ambitious and sometimes sounding like a few different bands in one, the Cold War Kids may finally be truly finding themselves in this passionate new album. A bit more cohesive of a band than in past years, they seem a bit tighter as of late. It’s not easy for an indie band to stay relevant with ten years passing in between albums. We’re hoping Friday’s set shows us we were right to hang on for so long. I think knowing all the lyrics to the band’s older songs will earn us some immediate street cred.—Lucy Rendler-Kaplan
Best bet to heat your feet:
Hot Chip on the Bud Light Stage at 4:30 p.m.
Hot Chip will be a drop of water in a sea of synth-pop and electronic music acts, but with a full band and a live drummer it's a good bet that Hot Chip will have little bit more soul to their set. Hot Chip still employs a steady diet of electronic loops with groovy dance beats and catchy melodies. They'll get you on your feet and dancing.
Vocals and Hair Most Rivaling Florence + The Machine:
MS MR on the Sprint Stage at 4:45 p.m.
The duo of Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow are Lolla veterans, playing in 2013 after the success of their hit single, “Hurricane,” a sweeping anthem that’s as dark as it is invigorating. Now they’re back with a new album dropped literally one week before returning to Grant Park. How Does It Feel opens with the jam “Painted,” and continues into familiar heart-ripping territory. The album still has plenty of danceable moments though, as we’re sure their live set will. MS MR also play an already sold out Lolla aftershow with Wet at Lincoln Hall on Thursday.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny
Most likely to get you to ask, "Isn't that the guy from Radiohead?":
Philip Selway on the Pepsi Stage at 5:15 p.m.
Radiohead's Philip Selway will get his butt off his drum throne to front his own band at this weekend's festival. His solo work doesn't sound like "blip, blip, bleep, bloop, blip," or give you a headache. Rather, he has some strong melodies over ethereal instrumentation and cool polyrhythmic percussion parts. It's an enjoyable listen. —Casey Moffitt
Set most likely to overwhelm the BMI Stage this year:
BØRNS on the BMI Stage at 5:40 p.m.
I totally thought BØRNS was fronted by a girl after seeing the band perform a live set on a late night talk show. The backing band was full of excitement, giving the song they were playing (“Electric Love”) their all, and the statuesque presence at the front of the stage was topping the insanely fun looking proceedings with a lovely falsetto bordering on a full throated soprano. So when I started doing some research imagine my surprise at discovering that mesmerizing presence was in fact Garrett Borns, a 23-year-old dude from Grand Rapids, MI. And apparently some sort of musical savant. BØRNS has only released a single EP, 2014’s Candy, so expect the set to be full of surprises. The only thing that won’t be surprising to me will be when BØRNS exits Lollapalooza with his star shining quite a bit brighter. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Best use of a Mac keyboard shortcut:
alt-J on the Bud Light Stage Friday 6:30 p.m.
You've likely heard “Breezeblocks” or “Left Hand Free” as the songs continue to pop up in unexpected places. They’re alternative with attitude and just a hint of folk influence. It's not all rock though, songs like “Hunger of the Pine” burn slow and haunt. The UK group found themselves down a member after the success of their debut and heavy touring, but the remaining trio ventured on and released their second album, This Is All Yours, last fall. While the layered recording style gives their sound depth, keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton admits they don’t think about how they’ll perform them live. Considering they’ve got a headlining Lolla aftershow at the Aragon on Thursday, we’re sure they’ve got it down.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny
Best use of a Little Tikes Xylaphone:
Sylvan Esso on the Pepsi Stage at 7:45 p.m.
Here's predicting the remote Pepsi Stage will be packed for electronic folk pair Sylvan Esso. Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn have charmed many ears with their minimalist melodies and production on the strength of last year's self-titled debut. Before you dive into Friday's headlining acts, allow yourself to drift away to the sultry, haunting, hip-shaking charisma that happens when a clever folk vocalist and nimble electronic knob-turner combine forces.—Jessica Mlinaric
Best place to have a deeply existential conversation with your very patient friend about absolutely nothing:
Flying Lotus on the Pepsi Stage at 9 p.m.
With his latest album You’re Dead!, Flying Lotus continued where his relatives Alice and John Coltrane left off and has embraced his destiny as the flagbearer of the modern day Coltrane legacy. Lotus has always had a desire to explore the more dense and abstract territory of the electronic music landscape while paying homage to his jazz musician heritage. This has been made apparent as live instruments have subtly made their way into his stage performances and throughout his albums as he gets more strange, sounding much as if he has been equally-inspired by Alice Coltrane’s Ptah, the El Daoud and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly Also, Herbie Hancock made an appearance on the new album and maybe he’ll show up as a guest? That’d be excellent. —Justin Freeman
Toro Y Moi, photo by Andrew Paynter
Best chance to get your honky tonk on:
Sturgill Simpson on the Bud Light Stage at 2:45 p.m.
If you need a break from the electronic music and synth pop acts, or just need to give your dancing shoes a break, head on over to the Bud Light Stage and get a gander at Sturgill Simpson's country act. This is some good old-school honky tonk music with songs about saints and sinners. He's got a great country voice that will remind you of Waylon Jennings and a rocking band behind him, so don't be afraid to bring your cowboy hat to the festival. —Casey Moffitt
Baby, you’re already a star even if they don’t know it:
Charli XCX on the Sprint Stage at 3p.m.
Charli XCX put out one of my favorite albums in 2014, and while she’s not a household name yet, I assure you that you’re already familiar with her through her numerous guest turns on other artist’s singles, including, Icona Pop‘s “I Love It” and Iggy Azelia’s “Fancy.” The funny thing is that Charli XCX’s solo work is even better than the hits she’s been on, mixing guitar driven pop with charismatic attitude constantly throwing an eye to filling the dance floor. Expect equal parts fists in the air and hips shaking all around during her set. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Best place to ride a chillwave on a hot afternoon:
Toro y Moi on the Palladia Stage at 3:45 p.m.
This will be a second Lolla performance for Toro y Moi, after making their festival debut back in 2012. Since then songwriter and producer Chaz Bundick has been busy crafting an even larger catalogue of cool, ambient, danceable tracks. And while listening to their albums, you might think the Toro y Moi live experience would be a subtle and quiet one, having seen their sets before, I can tell you the addition of a live band makes the music come alive. Toro y Moi is not content simply playing from a MacBook, and instead works hard to bring their audience a unique live show experience. They play a mostly continuous electronic set and feed off crowd energy, making their afternoon set the perfect place to get up close and get your groove on. —Gina Provenzano
White Sea, photo by Samantha West via the White Sea Facebook page
Best unintentional H&M/Topshop/Urban Outfitters fashion show:
White Sea on the BMI Stage at 4:30 p.m.
White Sea is the solo project of Morgan Kibby, who you probably know as the keyboardist and vocalist of M83. The band is currently on break while Anthony Gonzalez goes down the Trent Reznor route of composing music for Hollywood films. A love of film music was also made clear in Kibby’s debut solo EP this Frontier as the influence of Italian spaghetti western film composer Ennio Morricone can be heard throughout. With her recent work, Kibby has taken things she learned from the overwhelming success of Midnight City and now creates big pop songs similar to Charli XCX and what Grimes did when she released the penned-for-but-rejected-by-Rihanna single “Go.” White Sea’s new single “Stay Young, Get Stoned” sounds large, like all it needs to be Top 40 radio contender is a guest appearance by Wiz Khalifa—which is something we’re sure the crowd at Lollapalooza would truly appreciate. —Justin Freeman
Best time to stop caring what other people think:
Walk the Moon on the Spring Stage at 5 pm.
We’ve heard “this is the song of the summer!” so many times the words are almost stopping to make sense. But if there were a song played at Lollapalooza that HAD to be coined this summer’s anthem, it would have to be “Shut Up and Dance.” So do it. Let loose. Pile on more cliches and dance like no one’s watching. Because guess what? No one will be. They’ll be too busy dancing along with one of LA’s party bands. If John Hughes was still making movies, you can bet Walk the Moon would be on all his soundtracks with their upbeat sound, sing-along lyrics, and pop quirk. —Lucy Rendler-Kaplan
Most promising mix of country AND rock:
Elle King on the BMI Stage Saturday 5:40 p.m.
This girl’s got old soul with a raspy twang. Some of her music is heavy on rock n roll, while other songs lean more country, but she’s got pop fueled dirty guitar sound behind it all. She just released her first full length album, Love Stuff, this year, but her music already has traction. Her song “Playing For Keeps” was the theme song for Mob Wives Chicago in 2012 and she recently performed the infectious lead single from Love Stuff, “Ex’s and Oh’s,” on the Today Show. We’d be remiss to not mention that she’s the daughter of comedian Rob Schneider, but as far as we can tell she’s more influenced by Hank Williams and Johnny Cash than SNL. King is also opening for Wild Belle at Saturday’s sold out Lincoln Hall aftershow.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny
Tame Impala, photo by Matt Sav
Huge band you’re least likely to recognize this time around:
Tame Impala on the Samsung Galaxy Stage at 6 p.m.
Tame Impala trades in their massive psychedlic guitar lines for massive psychedelic dance swirls. Their latest album, Currents, is more soul than rock, and the new direction is an unexpectedly welcome one. After perfecting their formula of preftecly constructed explorations into inner space via explosive guitar work, Currents sees that vision moving outward to incorporate more synth texture and organically funky beats. Trust me, it works, even though you woldn’t expect it from this band and their sonic perfectionism. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Best twist on electronic songs:
Chet Faker on the Pepsi Stage at 6:30 p.m.
This Aussie's one-man show would seem rather mundane at Lollapalooza as just another electronic music act on a bill chock full of them. But what set's Faker apart from the rest is his voice. Faker's night club crooning over sampled beats, electric swooshes and washes is an interesting dynamic that gives his music a little bit of a more human touch to his computer-generated tunes. —Casey Moffitt
Music to sway with a friend to:
Banks on the BMI Stage 7:45 p.m.
Banks is Jillian Banks, an L.A. singer songwriter with a moody dark side. She originally started writing music for herself as a teen to get through tough times, and that vulnerability remains. Upon first hearing her song “Drowning,” I almost thought it was a Lana Del Rey song, but here’s the difference; Banks is actually interesting. There’s a touch of R&B attitude in her sound, especially on songs like “Goddess,” the title track off her debut album, out just last year.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny
Lion Babe, photo by Courtney Harvier from the Lion Babe Facebook page
Best excuse to shake your mane:
Lion Babe on the Pepsi Stage at 12:50 p.m.
It's no surprise that the musical project of Jillian Hervey, Vanessa Williams’ daughter, and producer Lucas Goodman, a.k.a. Astro Raw, is fierce. Lion Babe delivers soulful R&B that simmers on tracks like breakout "Treat Me Like Fire" and jumps out of the pan on their latest electro-pop banger "Impossible." Catch the duo early this year, because with a debut album in the works that boasts Pharrell, Mark Ronson and Childish Gambino collaborations this pair will be ruling the pop jungle soon.—Jessica Mlinaric
Best chance to celebrate Chicago rock:
Twin Peaks on the Sprint Stage at 1:30 p.m.
Chicago has grabbed the attention of rap and hip-hop world, and rightfully so, but there is still a pretty strong rock 'n' roll scene here and it's cool too see a local rock band on the festival bill this year. That doesn't it make it a better festival, but it's kind of fun to see some hometown rock get a little love. Granted, if you live here in town, Lollapalooza isn't the place you want to see Twin Peaks deliver their revivalist, garage psychedelic set, but we’re still excited to see them get invited to the party. —Casey Moffitt
Best chance to recharge your Sunday:
Stand of Oaks on the Pepsi Stage at 4 p.m.
Sunday fatigue should be setting in for many three-day pass holders when Sunday afternoon rolls around. And Strand of Oaks will be there to pick up the crowd and get their fists in the air. Part rock, part folk, all wall-of-sound, Strand of Oaks played a powerful sold out show earlier this year at Lincoln Hall and we’re excited to see how they evolve their live act from the dark venue to a massive music festival. Lead singer and producer Timothy Showalter is known for giving his everything on stage, belting out emotional lyrics over heavy guitar hooks, and we’re betting that will give those weary festival goers the energy they need to last to the end of the fest. —Gina Provenzano
Best EDM that’s not on Perry’s Stage:
ODESZA on the Bud Light at 4:45 p.m.
So you want to dance to some EDM, but you don’t want to brave the madness that is Perry’s? Check out ODESZA on the Bud Light main stage. The duo of Harrison Mills (aka CatacombKid) and Clayton Knight (aka BeachesBeaches) make songs that are more chill than most of what you’ll hear at Perry’s, but still very much danceable. They released their debut in 2012, and just last year came their follow up album, In Return, which features guest vocals from Zyra, Py, Shy Girls and Madelyn Grant.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny
Halsey, photo via the band's Facebook page
Be able to say you saw her before she was big:
Halsey on the BMI Stage at 6:50 p.m.
As is the case with most artists on the up-and-comer’s BMI Stage, this your chance to see a talented young singer songwriter before she breaks. Named for the New York subway stop, Ashley Frangipane is Halsey, the latest in the vein of grungy electro pop. She’s got an EP out on Astralwerks, but she’ll be releasing her debut album, BADLANDS, next month.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny
Best chance to be entranced:
FKA Twigs on the Pepsi Stage at 7:45 p.m.
I’m hoping the sun fully starts to set during FKA Twigs Sunday night set. After getting a glimpse of her most recent and ambitious set of sold out club shows, filled with pulsing lights and dramatic choreographed dance routines, I’m not sure how the drama will translate to a sunny festival set. Despite that, I’m still excited to see how much of the theatrics makes their way to the festival stage. But no matter how creative and ambitious her live show gets, listeners will be treated to many tracks off of LP1, Twigs’ breakout electronic R&B album released last summer, and that in itself will be well worth a trip over to the Pepsi Stage. —Gina Provenzano