Sign in / Join

The Lollapalooza Performance Guide

Photo of Lollapalooza

Photo by Jack Edinger

 Lollapalooza starts today, and WE ARE READY. But are you?

Whip out your performance schedule and browse through our guide for some tips on who to see, when to see them, and how to solve those heartbreaking schedule conflicts that hurt more than your foot blisters. We’ve broken down each festival day into the best early sets (those-lesser known gems that require waking up before noon but win you an “I saw them first” badge), must-see performances throughout the day, and the end-of-the-night headliners.

Thursday

Best Early Set

Hiatus Kaiyote goes on at 2:00 pm, and swaying in the sun to this quartet’s smooth and breezy brand of future soul, bathed in bliss and served chilled out with a side of hip-hop, is the perfect way to start out your weekend.

Must-See Performances

Detroit-based MC Danny Brown, who goes on at 4:00 pm, spits smart, harsh, nasty, and fast. He’s toured with A$AP Rocky and ScHoolboy Q, and his album Old won awards from nearly every major music publication. The Arcs, on at 7:30, have received plenty of praise for their trippy blues garage-rock, and NPR called their live performances “the perfect intersection of the known and the unknown.” I’m not sure what that means, but color me intrigued.

Headliners

The Last Shadow Puppets and Flosstradamus are both playing aftershows. It’s still hard to decide between America’s favorite tragic sweetheart and a rapper who rivals Kendrick Lamar in both lyrical intelligence and thematic sharpness. Luckily, J. Cole’s set starts 15 minutes before Lana’s.

Answer: Start with J. Cole, and then sprint over to Lana Del Rey to close out the first night singing “Summertime Sadness” in the dark of the pale moonlight.

Friday

Best Early Set

Make it into Grant Park right at noon on Friday and be rewarded with self-described “dark euphoria” band HÆLOS, whose male-female vocals are at once angelic and sinister and couple with soundscapes both ‘90s and futuristic.

Must-See Performances

Brave the massive crowds to catch M83, at 6:00pm, and Future, at 6:45pm. The former is known for putting on emotional and highly immersive performances, and the latter is sure to delight as the current superstar of Atlanta rap.

Headliners

Now, I love a Major Lazer show, but they have an aftershow at Aragon, and reggae/dancehall music is more suited for the club anyway. Martin Garrix has become an EDM powerhouse, but that means he performs at fests every year. Radiohead performs pretty infrequently in the U.S. Regardless, nothing should stop you from seeing what is often deemed one of the best live performances of our age.

Answer: On second thought, go see Major Lazer, and clear the way for me.

Saturday

Best Early Set

Riot Grrrls are not dead! Potty Mouth, an all-female punk band who worked with the same producer as Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney, goes on at 2:10.

Must-See Performances

If you’re not already convinced, Grimes’ magical blend of production nerd and cyber-pop-goddess and Big Grams’ (Phantogram + Big Boi’s fabulous collaboration) should not be missed, on at 7:30 pm and 4:15 pm respectively. Neither can retro-soul darling Leon Bridges, on at 4:45 pm, who shot up in what felt like mere days and has been compared to legends like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.

Headliners

If you managed to get tickets to Disclosure’s aftershow at Spybar, maybe you can eliminate this flawless dance music duo. If you’re big on Chicago hip-hop, Vic Mensa will be a blast, but even if you aren’t, this Kanye West-collaborator is only going to get bigger. That being said, Red Hot Chili Peppers are legends and Lolla staples who’ve headlined since the festival’s earliest days, and this could be their last.

Answer: Start with Red Hot Chili Peppers; they’re sure to open with a few greatest hits. After that, sprint to Vic Mensa if you’re a hip-hop-head or Disclosure if you missed their aftershow. For the ambitious, try for all three.

Sunday

Best Early Set

Mija, on at 1 pm, has already collaborated with Skrillex and Lil’Jon in the early stages of her DJ career. Her roots lie in house music, but she reaches across all genres to create unique and original dance tunes.

Must-See Performances

Relive the ‘90s on Sunday. Go test your tongue twisting abilities singing along to the surprisingly fast “Semi-Charmed Kind of Life” at Third Eye Blind’s show, on at 3:45 pm. Later on, at 6:50 pm, be sure to check out Flatbush Zombies, Brooklyn-based rap trio that channels the best of ‘90s East Coast rap while infusing it with a distinctly contemporary combination of darkness and humor.

Headliners

LCD Soundsystem is doing TWO aftershows. Both sold out in seconds, and die-hard LCD fans would probably see them 10 nights in a row if they could. Ellie Goulding performs at festivals every year. Die Antwoord’s performances are truly one of a kind—incredibly weird, hair-raisingly creepy, and unforgettably fun. But putting them up against LCD, a band that proved themselves still worthy at their Bonnaroo performance last month with people practically claiming transcendental experiences, is just unfair.

Answer: Go to LCD Soundsystem and close out your weekend dancing your ass of and crying your eyes out. Unless you really need to end your weekend singing about cannibalism and setting babies on fire, in which case, head straight to Die Antwoord. You’d probably scoff at LCD fans anyway.