If you’re heading to Chicago this weekend, you’re more than likely drawn in by big headliners like Sir Paul McCartney or The Weeknd. However, the festival has offered a formidable undercard and small(er) name acts that make the whole day worth coming to see familiar names and even make some discoveries along the way. In my selections, we have some true tiny font acts that deserve recognition to some rising acts whose name is definitely out there in the music festival spectrum.
Saturday 1PM, Bud Light Stage
With infectious hooks and singer Liz Nistico’s undeniable stage presence HOLYCHILD and their unique blend of brat pop are a surefire way to set off your Saturday festivities at Lolla. Playing mostly smaller venues and early sets of festivals, the band is used to a more intimate audience, especially with Nistico coming down from the stage and singing from the GA crowd. Even if you aren’t familiar with their record “The Shape of Brat Pop to Come”, the band is fully engaging enough, with dance routines and off-kilter electronica, HOLYCHILD helps set the mood for whatever your festival experience may be.
Friday, 3PM Sprint Stage
Aside from her major radio hits, “Habits (Stay High)” and “Talking Body”, Tove Lo makes her performances instantly iconic. With her debut record “Queen of the Clouds”, the Swedish singer takes a command of the audience and vibrant sensual energy that borders on eroticism (which eventually leads to it when she flashes the audience). Her sets typically consist of “Queen” material along with her collaboration with Alesso “Heroes (we could be)” and some tracks of her initial EPs. In live performance, her backing band is made of a duo of drummers and a keyboardist, which makes for interesting rhythmic compositions on “My Gun” and her latest single “Timebomb.” The singer hits NYC again at (sigh) Terminal 5 later in the Fall.
Saturday, 1:30PM Sprint Stage
A highly underrated vocalist, LA indie singer Ryn Weaver’s LP “The Fool” has made some waves with her single “OctaHate.” Partially due in part to production assistance from Charli XCX, Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit, and producer Benny Blanco’s work on the track. As her live shows and venues get bigger, Weaver makes each of her more intimate performances a special experience for her audience, but at festivals she gets the most out of her sets to get the attention of crowds that may vaguely know of her or have a point of reference to her music. While her releases are undervalued by many major music outlets, her tracks are well-crafted pop tunes made from the perspective of a hippie lost in the selfie generation. Following her appearance at Lolla, the singer hits NYC for two sold-out dates at Music Hall of Williamsburg and Bowery Ballroom.
Saturday, 3PM Sprint Stage
With her monumental “Sucker” released in late 2014, Charli XCX is showing off her transformation from “weird goth girl listening to Grimes behind the bleachers” to “captain of the cheer team bopping to Britney Spears.” Assisted by collaborators like Icona Pop, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tinashe, Charli XCX‘s career has skyrocketed since the release of her major label debut “True Romance.” Translating into her live persona, Charli XCX is unapologetic, bringing a powerful feminist energy with her all-female backing band to truly encapsulate the sentiment of “Girl Power.” While the singer was allegedly going to produce a punk record before the release of “Sucker”, she has performed one of the tracks on her tour. Currently performing on a joint tour with Bleachers called “Charli and Jack Do America”, the singer is hitting some larger venues and festivals primarily like NYC’s Central Park Summerstage.
Sunday, 3:20PM BMI Stage
The young Brooklyn singer Kelsey Byrne, better known as VÉRITÉ has gained some exposure this year, with her tracks being featured on iTunes Radio and even opening for Tove Lo earlier this Summer. VÉRITÉ’s songwriting has some considerable strengths, taking a singer-songwriter approach to electronica. In her live shows, she is backed by a standard combo of guitar, bass, and drums but still keeps to a heavy digital vibe with synthesizers and drum samples filling most of the tracks. The singer’s style could be seen as a cross between the vocals of Tove Lo with the electronic sensibility of Grimes making for some highly infectious riffs.
Tyler, the Creator
Saturday, 5:45PM Palladia Stage
One of the most controversial public figures of our age, Tyler, the Creator has in recent months distanced himself from the project that put him on the map, hip-hop collective Odd Future. With the group’s gradual dissolution, Tyler has primarily focused on his solo work, releasing three albums the latest being 2015’s “Cherry Bomb”. However, the Cali rapper still performs many of the Odd Future tracks he is featured on in his sets, as well as, performing with former members of the alternative rap collective like Earl Sweatshirt and Taco Bennett. Recently, it was reported that Tyler was banned from the entire nation of Australia due some of his lyrics with Odd Future being considered misogynistic and objectifying. The petition to have him banned originated from Australian feminist group Collective Shout who has used similar petitions to attempt to revoke Floyd Mayweather’s visa and entering the country. While the status of Tyler’s visa is still up in the air, he is set to perform several dates in the country in September, after his U.S. tour running from June to August.
Angus & Julia Stone
Sunday, 3:45 Palladia Stage
A more subtle selection for your Sunday set, Angus & Julia Stone’s folk songs are a calm alternative on your last day of the festival. While their tracks are fairly downtempo, the duo is backed by an incredible roster of musicians, transitioning instruments almost each song to play banjo, pedal steel guitar, and trumpet. Even on the band’s cover of the Grease track “You’re The One That I Want”, Julia’s interpretation of the track transforms it into a down tempo, minor key croon that crescendos with the vocalist’s raspy scream.
Sunday, 4:35PM Perry’s Stage
Having recorded thousands of songs and freestyles, the young rapper narrowed his selection down to 2014’s “Under Pressure.” Signed to Def Jam records, the biracial rapper takes a mostly introspective look at society through his mixtapes and lyricism. Collaborating with bigger names like Big Sean and Childish Gambino, Logic’s command of his shows and records allow his work to speak for itself and not be overshadowed by features or venues. His stage presence is something to be admired for someone who can speak as profoundly as he does just off the top of his head, even freestyling live whether it’s at smaller, intimate shows or bigger festivals.
Sunday, 5:40PM BMI Stage
Singer Alicia Bognanno’s band has been on the road recently, opening for Best Coast. Releasing their debut LP “Feels Like” the band brings a level of punk energy reminiscent of the early days of the act they’re supporting. With an effortless Kurt Cobain-esque rasp in her voice and a powerful three-piece band, Bully is definitely a great act to catch live. Lyrically, Bognanno’s lyrics read like diary entries and the confessional nature brings out the most from her voice.
Florence + the Machine
Sunday, 8:30PM Samsung Galaxy Stage
Okay, maybe I lied a bit, but despite their long-gone indie cred Florence + the Machine is a 100% must see act live. With three records to their name, it is one thing to listen and hear their transition from baroque-pop favorites to Stevie Nicks level folk-rock mysticism, it is quite another to experience their live shows. Finally back on her feet after an accident at Coachella which left her foot injured and the singer condemned to sing from a stool, her signature dance style and crowd interactions make her performances capture the perfect balance between harmony and discord. With her powerful voice, the singer and her band (now featuring a horn section) make impeccable use of dynamics to make the moments of joy resonate with the audience and the sections of sorrow truly tug at your heartstrings. If you see only one act at Lollapalooza, make sure it’s Florence + the Machine.