Authors: David Heinrich and Jake Walcyzk
Lollapalooza is upon us once again. The premier Chicago festival is back with another stacked lineup of today’s titans and up-and-comers. Lollapalooza has assembled a diverse group of lots of different kinds of artists, with rock, rap, EDM, and everything in between represented well. Headliners include Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, The National, Arctic Monkeys, and ODESZA, complimented by a stacked undercard. Festival attendees will be busy from open to close, and so will we. Here are a few artists we’re particularly stoked to see in Grant Park this weekend.
Headlining the Bud Light stage on Thursday night is Houston rap superstar Travis Scott. The rapper is a pioneer of today’s trap style, with quite a resume of rap disruption and experimentation. His two full-length LPs, 2015’s Rodeo and 2016’s Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight both went platinum. He has had commercial success and influence over some of today’s biggest stars, but he is in an artful lane all his own. He cites influences like Kid Cudi, Toro Y Moi, MIA, and Tame Impala. He mixes elements of sleek trap with some of the best hooks around, layered with Kanye/Bon Iver levels of effects. The result is dark, overdriven, and futuristic, packing a lot of entropy into each track. The buildup to Astroworld, his third record, has come at a slower pace than his previous turnaround times. This could be due to a busy 2017 touring schedule, a stacked list of feature appearances, or just patience and meticulous production for the new album. This week, in Houston, New York, and LA, large golden Travis heads appeared, teasing the eventual announcement that Astroworld will be coming on August 3rd. Travis Scott already has a reputation for putting on a wild live show, and one can only assume the hype will be at its peak on the eve of such an anticipated album.
Rap’s hardest working boyband is making an appearance at Lollapalooza on Friday evening. It’s sure to be a packed set for the boys at the intimate Grove stage. The collective has been putting out some of the most consistent and interesting rap music of the past year. Someday, I’ll tell my kids about the crazy run they had in what’s now called the “Saturation Era”, where they released 3 albums in the span of a few months. They quickly developed a cult following and just when they seemed poised to break into stardom, a membership shakeup caused them to go back to square one. They’ve quickly bounced back, putting out 3 amazing singles off of their upcoming album the best days of our lives. Their work ethic is unlike any other. Mixing innovative and unique production with a rap crew of great vocalists that ooze personality, these guys are not to be missed.
Rex Orange County
Rex Orange County plays early on Sunday afternoon at Lolla this year. He had a big 2017, dropping his second album Apricot Princess and landing two features on Tyler, the Creator’s album Flower Boy. The singer/songwriter mixes elements of indie pop, rock, lo-fi, and an R&B vocal twist. His lyrics are youthful, relatable, and wistful, which pair nicely with his laid-back vibe. Songs like “Untitled” and “Loving Is Easy” are prime examples of this mood. He isn’t afraid to kick it up a notch on tracks like “Best Friend” or “Never Enough”, bringing in more electric guitars and energy. His sound is still taking shape, but he’s excelling at the different genres and influences he’s trying. He’s one of the hottest up-and-comers out there right now, at the forefront of an exciting lineup of young talent that Lolla put together.
Sabrina Claudio is another talented performer taking the Grove stage on Sunday afternoon. She mixes light, airy vocals with sensual R&B tracks to create a specific vibe. Her production is dreamy, which pair well with the mood she sets in her songs. Her debut album About Time from 2017 received rave reviews, and it houses my favorite Sabrina Claudio track “Unravel Me”. The chorus has such a nice bounce to it, and it has a little bit of a different feel than a traditional R&B ballad. Expect the crowd to be vibing with Sabrina on Sunday.
Curtis Harding stopped by Madison early this year and put on an electrifying performance at Majestic Theatre. His blend of soul, blues, and rock brings a fresh take on a classic sound. Performing in the industry for 16 years, Harding began by backing CeeLo Green, then formed the band Night Sun with members of Black Lips before starting his own solo career. Harding released his second solo album in 2017 and released a single in June of this year. Expect a unique psych rock twist of his songs when played live.
Durand Jones & The Indications
Keeping on the soul train, Durand Jones & The Indications are keeping authentic soul alive through their classic sound and live performances, complete with a horn section. Started in Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, the band has come a long way. They squeezed their 7 members on The Frequency’s stage for a sold-out performance earlier this year. The band released their first album this year and just got off a European tour.
This band is something truly unique. The band is comprised of eight members, the lead singer OJ at age 19 leads a unique sound, unlike anything I’ve heard. The band began in London, with its various members contributing their ideas over email and has grown to be much more. Committed to bringing the same amount of magic their music brings in their recordings to their live performance, their NPR Tiny Desk session used props such as a bucket of water, toy cars, and apples. This large band also somehow fit everyone onto The Frequency’s tiny stage and managed to put on a memorable performance, so I look forward to seeing what they can do at Lollapalooza this year.
Post Animal is a psychedelic rock band from Chicago. With a couple of its members having grown up in Madison, it’s been exciting to see their careers take off. Most of the members of the band take over lead vocals for at least one of their songs, keeping things interesting during live performances. Just getting off their tour for their most recent album When I Think Of You In A Castle, the guys are well rehearsed and are planning on giving all the gas they have left in the tank into this show.