Lollapalooza 2017: 22 Acts We're Looking Forward To This Weekend

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 2, 2017 4:02PM

Lollapalooza spans four days again this year. That means there is literally no chance you can attend the fest and not find at least one band you like. More likely, you already have a list of a handful of acts you hope to catch, and have a ton of holes in the schedule you still need to fill.

Your first option, and one that I do not think is a bad way to go, is to wander the park in-between the bands you came for and see what new sounds you can discover. I listen to thousands of albums a year and even I am only glancingly familiar with many of the acts on this year's bill. So I hope to walk out—or, more likely, hobble out on exhausted legs—with a few new favorites to dive even more deeply into as the lights come on over Grant Park late Sunday night and we all make our way toward the gates for the year's final exit.

If that's not the route you want to take, and you're hoping for a little guidance, we've got you covered. What follows are a few of the acts the Chicagoist team finds worthy of special note. For the most part we've avoided the headliners (except where it seems pertinent to make a particular point) and the electronic acts at Perry's Stage (my personal credo on that patch of ground is to just get lost in the music, no matter who's playing).

So let's help get those schedules filled in! — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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The Killers, photo by Anton Corbijn

Bands most likely to make us feel like it’s 2005 all over again:
The Killers on the Grant Park Stage at 8:45 p.m. on Friday
Arcade Fire on the Grant Park Stage at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday

The iPod was just becoming mainstream, the indie rock boom was in full effect and a music festival monolith decided to reinvent itself on Chicago’s lakefront. 2005 was the first year of Lollapalooza’s revival, calling Chicago home after puttering out as a traveling festival that defined the '90s. The fest was less than half the size it is now, and a heat wave had just descended on the city. There were two young rock bands playing in the middle of the day under the blazing sun; one skyrocketing thanks to the success of a little single called “Mr Brightside,” and the other, well, we didn’t quite know what to make of this other band that filled the stage with about a gazillion people and a huge orchestral sound to match. The Killers and Arcade Fire have since gone on to massive success with Grammys, hit singles, world tours and ten albums between them. Both have new albums out this year that have a similar dance vibe, and they’re once again on the same Lollapalooza roster ... in headlining slots — Michelle Meywes Kopeny

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Kewku Collins, photo via his Facebook page

Best reason to arrive a*s-early even though this weekend is interminable:
Kweku Collins on the Pepsi Stage at 12 p.m. on Thursday

The maniac organizers last year looked at the marathon gauntlet that is Lollapalooza and somehow said, “longer!” Now more than ever, you must pace yourself. So naturally one of the best Chicago acts on the bill opens the whole damn thing. Evanston native Kweku Collins does some great things, production-wise and vocally; and with crowd maelstrom likely still at bay, the suboptimal festival setting likely won’t damper anything. With White Reaper (all big-hooky, dumb-rawk knowingness, sans irony) following 15 minutes later across the park, it’s the early bird special. — Stephen Gossett

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White Reaper, photo by Lynn Millspaugh

If you see only one band this weekend, THIS IS THE ONE TO SEE:
White Reaper on the Grant Park Stage at 12:45 p.m. on Thursday

White Reaper’s show at Beat Kitchen earlier this year was one of those that reaffirm your belief in rock and/or roll. The floor was shaking and bowing as the dancing intensified, driven by the band’s stadium ‘70s riffs and so much positive swagger and attitude pouring off White Reaper it threatened to drown the crowd in cool. I'm not gonna lie, I may have cried with happiness, just a little bit. This year’s The World's Best American Band both saw White Reaper both making a huge leap in their sound, and damn near justifying what many might have though was the tongue in cheek title of the album. I’m not so sure they were kidding as they were issuing themselves a pretty tall challenge. And I think they are succeeding in living up to it. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Hippo Campus, photo by Devin Smith

How high were you when you named your band and burst into fits of giggles:
Hippo Campus on the Lake Shore Stage at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday

This Minneapolis trio specialized in dream, light psych-pop that is winning enough, but made even more distinctive by Jake Luppen’s warbling high tenor and unerring knack for a soothing melodic hook. It allows him to glide from the group’s more loping tracks into something more esoteric R&B, like their offbeat read on R&B on “Epitaph,” off their debut, this year’s Landmark. The group crafted a lovely collection for that LP that sounds a prism of Kodachrome sunlight playing over a field of grass. In other words, grab a patch of the field in front of the Lake Shore Stage and let the group provide the soundtrack to the start of your very, very long festival weekend. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Liam Gallagher, photo by RANKIN

Best chance of hearing someone bash Blur and call his older sibling a potato:
Liam Gallagher on the Grant Park Stage at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday

Liam Gallagher hasn’t fronted Oasis for years, but he’s lost none of the attitude and swagger that marked his time in that monster of a band. His post-Oasis outings have been a little less consistent, but I’ve heard some of Gallagher’s recent live performances and his voice is back in fine form, a slack yet shedding sneer that cuts through the walls of guitar his songs prefer. On his proper solo debut single, ““Wall of Glass,” Gallagher is back in the realm of stadium ready chugging guitar chords and soaring choruses, so I’m expecting this high profile Lollapalooza debut performance to melt the south end of Grant Park. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Spoon, photo by Zackery Michael

Give ‘em a proper headlining set, already:
Spoon on the Lake Shore Stage at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday

In all the years I’ve seen Spoon, and this stretches waaaay back in the band’s career, they have never let me down live. Lollapalooza must agree since they keep booking them at the festival, slowly moving them up the line up with each appearance. But c’mon, Britt Daniel and the guys have paid their dues, continue to sell oodles of albums despite not making any artistic compromises, and consistently draw crowds bulging at the seams, even in outdoor settings. Maybe next year they’ll get a headliner slot? Regardless, this is sure to be a fantastic show. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Lorde, photo by Andrew Whitton

How to choose between two equally melodramatic Thursday headliners:
Lorde on the Bud Light Stage at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday
Muse on the Grant Park Stage at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday

This year you can count on both Lorde and Muse to bring gargantuan, stadium productions full of emotive moves that will push cartoonishly into the stratosphere. So how can one choose between the two? I’m not going to make that choice for you, but I can offer you an educated guess on what to expect based on seeing both acts perform live in the past so you can make an informed decision.

When last Lorde played Lollapalooza, she was still getting her bearings in front of large crowds, but even at that cary stage she showed she had what it took to project her idiosyncratic, moody pop over the crowd and enrapture the masses. The stakes are higher this time, and she’s logged in many, many miles on the road by now, so the only possible pitfall is that her show has grown so glossy it overshadows her idiosyncratic charms.

Muse? Their operatic rock shows are meant to stun you into submission, and are flawlessly constructed, often pushing the limits of modern concert spectacle. And with a new album in the wings, I’m expecting a glimpse of some new music alongside gems like “Supermassive Black Hole” and “Madness.” There is a chance, based on recent setlist, they may choose to indulge themselves and let their proggier side fly free, in which case the set could either be mind-blowing or a confounding exercise in navel-gazing. Your guess is as good as mine. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Slothrust, photo by Ebru Yildriz

Long live the ‘90s:
Slothrust on the BMI Stage at 1:10 p.m. on Friday

On Everyone Else, Slothrust displays a firm understanding of ‘90s indie rock that depends on quiet passages of quiet reflection that more often than not leap into thundering protests-blues explosions, before swerving back into place. Singer and guitarist Leah Wellbaum is the band’s secret weapon, as her vocals convey a weight and weariness that anchor the songs in pillars of emotional cement. Grab a spot under the shade and allow the feels to flow. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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PUP, photo by Amanda Fotes

Scream! And shout! And let’s all jump all about!:
PUP on the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage at 2 p.m. on Friday

PUP’s The Dream Is Over is a decisive blast of party punk, that sees the band mixing hooks that belong in power-pop songs with guitars and drums that often sound like they’re fighting with each other over who can be the loudest at this sonic party. They may be playing early in the day on Friday, but based on past live sets I think it’s safe to assume that the crowd will be hopping up and down with arms all slung across shoulders, as the band careens across the stage (if they can manage to stay on the stage). Forget the double shot of espresso on your way to the park, just head straight for PUP. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Ryan Adams, photo by Noah Abrams

Ready to Rock N Roll:
Ryan Adams on the Tito Handmade Vodka Stage at 6 p.m. on Friday

Ryan Adams’ Prisoner, and it’s companion album of b-sides, is both a raw look at a dissolving relationship and a tour de force of all that musical instincts that made me a fan of Adams back before he took many lengthy sojourns into borderline jam band territory for a number of years. In other word, Adams has effortlessly flipped whatever that internal switch exists within him that seems to spool out hooks for days with a rock and roll heart, and then graft them onto aching and beautiful vocal swoops that reminds you of every gloriously painful moment in your own life. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Run The Jewels, photo courtesy Biz3

Where’s the socially aware greatest party in the world at?:
Run The Jewels on the Grant Park Stage at 6:45 p.m. on Friday

For a “side project” Run The Jewels sure is killing it. I’ve seen Killer Mike and El-P develop their live shows over the past couple of years, and the duo is a potent mix that feeds the eyes, the hips, and the brain. Run the Jewels 3, dropped as a surprise last Christmas, is the group’s best album yet, finding the perfect mix between fiery messaging and beats that make you wanna just slurp up whatever they’re dishing out. Expect bedlam to reign, in all the best ways. And if you’re looking to fill your celebrity sighting Bingo card, keep your peepers on the sides of the stage since we’re pretty sure anyone with a legit VIP pass will be throwing elbows for a spot there. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Warpaint, photo by Mia Kirby

Candidate for Most Improved set from a Lolla alum:
Warpaint on the Grant Park Stage at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday

When I last saw Warpaint at Lollapalooza, the band was firmly in its quieter, more noodling early live phase. It was lovely, but I feared the band might waft off into the ether along with its sound at times. 2016’s Heads Up saw the band push their intricate rhythms to the fore to compliment their newfound love of a more straightforward, powerful groove. So I think it’s safe to say that their set will still be just as entrancing as before, only now the hypnotic methods Warpaint employs should get the field dancing instead of simply nodding along to the music. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Royal Blood, photo by Perou

Not every band needs to be a two-piece, but it sure works for these guys:
Royal Blood on the Lake Shore Stage at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday

This British duo of bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher takes the two-man band formula and fills it with enough sound for ten. This summer’s How Did We Get So Dark? is chock full of stoner-pop tailor made to fill any space like an expanding sonic sponge. This set stands of a good chance of being one of those breakouts of the weekend, because while the band has been slowly making a name for itself, I suspect the crowd reaction to their sonic thunderstorm will launch word of their live prowess like a flaming cannonball. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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+LIVE+, photo via the band's Facebook page

You would think Lollapalooza would learn by now:
+LIVE+ on the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage at 6 p.m. on Saturday

The Tito’s Stage a.k.a Petrillo Music Shell, is the same place Third Eye Blind played last year, and proved that there are a LOT of fans hungry for ‘90s nostalgia. Not only has +LIVE+ filled that emotional spot this year, they’re playing the same stage, which means no one will actually get to see the band since that will easily be the most packed portion of Grant Park at that time of the day on Saturday. And good luck hearing them since the sound at Petrillo, sorry, I mean Tito’s, isn’t exactly tailored to carry across the field. So what I’m saying is, if you want to see +LIVE+, stake out a spot early. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Banks, photo via her Facebook page

Best chance to sway into an altered state of mind:
Banks on the Lake Shore Stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday

Banks’ take on pop is on the slinky, sultry side. Her vocals slide up along side crisp electronics and the contrast between those two things allow her music to occupy an off emotional space that feels equal parts throbbing heart and whirring machine. Her work functions remarkably well in the world created by the space between headphones, so I’m exceedingly curious to see how she translates that magic into the oversized IRL setting that is Lollapalooza. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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The Walters, photo via their Facebook page

Show some locals a little love:
The Walters on The Pepsi Stage at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday

The Walters energy-filled spazz-pop has been steadily drawing more and more fans to their local appearances, and I'm particularly looking forward to seeing how they handle being on a larger stage in front of a crowd largely unfamiliar with their music. Singer Luke Olson often appears to be bursting at the seams when constrained to smaller venues, so god only knows what insanity he may unleash in Grant Park with that much space to play with. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Charli XCX, photo by Bella Howard

Best chance to (hopefully) see one of Chicago’s great hip-hop voices who’s not on the bill:
Charli XCX on the Lake Shore Stage at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday

Chance? Sure. Noname? We’ll be there. But as the Reader mentioned in March, we should all be also holding out hope that the spectacularly profane, sex-positive, queer-icon Chicago rapper Cupcakke will pop up to join pop wunderkind Charli XCX for this year’s “Lipgloss” collaboration. (Cupcakke was making that very live cameo earlier this year when she was opening for Charli.) Both have released LPs of excellent material in 2017, and it would be quite the bow for each. — Stephen Gossett

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Rag'N'Bone Man, photo courtesy Columbia Records

Who?!:
Rag’N’Bone Man on the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage at 4 p.m. on Sunday
Rory Charles Graham a.k.a is virtually unknown here, but overseas he’s kind of a big deal. His gut-bucket blues somehow broke into the overseas charts, and Graham won the British Breakthrough Act and Critic's Choice Award at the 2017 Brit Awards. Yeah, I don’t totally get it either. I've seen a few of his televised live performances and he does have something, but I can’t figure out how that’s translated into such popularity that he’s landed a spot on a Lollapalooza main stage. So count me among the crowd for his set as I try and suss out what kind of magic the man brings to the stage to warrant such acclaim. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

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Lil Yachty, photo by Kenneth Cappello

Best reason to run with the kids:
Lil Yachty on the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage at 6 p.m. on Sunday

“King of Teens” Lil Yachty was something of a human hot-take generator even long before his proper debut album, Teenage Emotions, appeared last spring to feed the culture-commentary industry (and also a legions of young fans), or before he cashed his most ineffable charmer into a dumb-pun Sprite ad. But honestly, even though he was summarily ridiculed for calling Notorious BIG overrated (and also not knowing what a cello is), the divide has always felt more aesthetic than generational: you respond to his “bubblegum trap”—all chintzy melodies and loopy (and slightly disinterested) sing-speak rapping included—or not. When he’s on, we do. Even if he’s off, it might still be the most of-the-moment moment. — Stephen Gossett

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Justice, photo by So Me

Craziest (enough to work) choice for headliner:
Justice on the Bud Light Stage at 8:45 p.m. on Sunday

Whatever gripes one might have with Lolla, they do bring the headliners. You might not love ‘em all, but each closer carries some genuine cultural cache. Except…? Justice foresaw popular electronic music’s turn toward arena rock, with bludgeoning, gnarled bass synths and shamelessly huge melodies (recall the totemic Waters of Nazareth and D.A.N.C.E.); but the French-house duo still remains removed from it all. Hell, they spent one album basically just trying to be a contemporary version of prog gods Goblin. We don’t know whether to scan it as nostalgia or what, but coupled with their synapse-scrambler of a light show, it could all be quite properly pummeling—if confounding. — Stephen Gossett