For me, part of the appeal of multiple-day, multi-stage extravaganzas like Lollapalooza is the opportunity to discover new bands. There’s something sterile (and solitary) about searching Spotify for new music; like the song says, ain’t nothing like the real thing. And so my approach to Lolla would be to check out acts that pique my interest, but specifically focus on ones that I might not otherwise invest an entire evening’s time and money were they at a club. With that in mind, I create my Lollapalooza schedule by starting at the bottom of each day’s bill, and work my way up.
That said, there’s no way I’m going to miss Radiohead.
The Greeting Committee
This young foursome (all its members are still in high school) has an uptempo, indie-pop sound reminiscent of nineties groups like The Cranberries, but with more of a rock sensibility. And they seem refreshingly free of artistic poseur characteristics. (There’s time for those to develop, one supposes.) Their songs are sturdily constructed and they strike me as an act worth watching. Capitol Records certainly thinks so.
I thought I’d heard of every genre and subgenre in existence, but “future-soul” is a new one on me. I’m not sure it applies, really, but that’s the tag hung on this Melbourne, Australia outfit. Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield’s vocals have a definite jazz sensibility, and the group’s effective use of electric piano textures gives their music a vibe that sets them apart from neo-soul (yeah, you’ve heard of that style) but connects them to downtempo soul/R&B of the 1970s.
Lana Del Rey
Bud Light Stage
Among many of the music connoisseurs with whom I’m acquainted, it’s fashionable to dislike Lana Del Rey. But a friend whose opinion I respect greatly raves about her music constantly. And he doesn’t do so simply to be contrarian. Still, I wonder to what extent her sound is a product of the studio, where most everything can be polished. So checking her out live onstage seems the next logical step.
This London trio creates deeply dramatic and evocative electronic music. The sweeping soundscapes of their debut album incorporate found sounds, and in places their music evokes memories of Robert Fripp’s sonic experiments and Brian Eno’s ambient excursions, tempered with—or filtered through—a more pop (and even dance-pop) sensibility. There’s a trip-hop feel to HÆLOS’ songs that recalls some of Zero 7’s best work.
Any group that put out two of the best albums of the 1990s (“The Bends” and “OK Computer”) and then continued to work while studiously avoiding the let’s-coast-on-those approach, deserves plaudits. With a lineup that’s had but one change since 1993, Radiohead continues to push forward—or at least in directions other than backward—with each successive release. Its music is often described as “uncomfortable,” which is another way of saying that it challenges the listener. I welcome that challenge. One has to miss half of their set to check out Ghost, though.
Many of today’s heavy rockers miss out on the nuance that their forebears appreciated. For reasons not fully understood, Scandinavia has more than its fair share of metal acts, but a lot of them go in for death imagery and Cookie Monster vocals. Ghost, from Sweden, goes in a very different direction: its music features melodic vocals wedded to an uber-heavy, thunderous instrumental attack. Think of it as ABBA meets Opeth. The band has a finely-tuned sense of the theatrical, too.
This all-female trio from Massachusetts traffics in melodic, clattering punk, but it’s a kind of punk that doesn’t hide the stop-on-a-dime musical chops of its members (all of whom go by their first names only). Their musical aesthetic owes more to The Replacements than, say, Green Day. Potty Mouth’s sound pummels and draws you in at the same time.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
Rateliff folds most every American musical style into his unique and signature sound, often within the confines of a single tune. “S.O.B.” seamlessly combines field hollers, southern gospel textures, a kind of Memphis rockabilly and who-knows-what-else. As exciting as the group’s music is on disc, it’s a sure bet that they’ll put on an electrifying live show.
Not to be confused with Nothing But Thieves (who are also on Saturday’s bill), this Philly band crafts a dense sheet of melodic rock. Nominally shoegaze, there’s a soaring, uplifting vibe to many of their songs, one that belies its members’ hardcore punk origins. Dig into their songs and you’ll find enduring melodies within.
This duo makes minimal yet meticulously produced and arranged R&B-flavored pop. Working in much the same musical territory as Superhumanoids, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West put more emphasis on their vocal harmonies, letting their slinky instrumentation and beats take a back seat. At least that’s the case on record; I wouldn’t be surprised to find their live show more beat-centric.
Third Eye Blind
On one hand, this act makes my list by process of elimination: Sunday’s Lolla schedule is heavy on electro-dance acts and “producers.” Straddling rock and pop, TEB leans in a Coldplay direction on the ballads, but their more rock-leaning material is consistently strong. Not surprisingly, their music has matured since their debut some quarter-century ago. I have a suspicion they’ll be good live.
The music made by this Los Angeles band sometimes suggests The Strokes; at times they sound a bit like Television with a female vocalist. Unconventional lead guitar lines are perched atop swooning, hypnotic rhythms. The band makes effective use of shade and light. If PJ Harvey met up with My Bloody Valentine and set about writing pop songs, they might sound a bit like this.
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. His more than 2,500 interviews, essays, and reviews reflect Bill’s keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill’s work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues, and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s final album. His first book, “Reinventing Pink Floyd,” is due from Rowman & Littlefield in February 2018.