I don’t blame anyone whose mind turns to mush the lower they go on a festival poster. No one reads the fine print and not everyone has the time to study up on bands in tiny text. As a certified expert in Bands at the Bottom of the Poster, however, I feel a it is my responsibility to guide you through the early hours of each day of Chicago’s premier music festival. This list is designed to help you maximize your festival going experience because everyone with a pulse knows that they’re supposed to stick around for Green Day and Metallica, but while you’re wasting away in the sweltering summer sun, you should go out of your way to see these bands.
The Wombats (3:15-4:15): Perhaps my allegiance to this Liverpool-based trio is that every cute girl in my high school liked them and deep down, I do everything I do in hope that they one day validate my existence. Nevertheless, this band has been bursting out of my speakers since the first time I heard the wonderfully ironic “Let’s Dance to Joy Division”. This weekend is not for the weak at heart, and The Wombats are the perfect, light-hearted affair to kick off the festivities.
Giovannie & The Hired Guns (4:30-5:10): A favorite in the Q101 office, Giovannie and the bandits that follow him around the country have gone from behind the counter at a pawn shop in Texas to the most important music festival in the country. That grit and determination pours out of their music. Cut from the same cloth as the likes of Yelawolf and Shooter Jennings and Justin’s boy, Jelly Roll, Giovannie & The Hired Guns bring enough soul to their music to revive the recently deceased. It would be a grave error if your trip to Grant Park doesn’t block out time to see these boys.
flipturn (12:50-1:30): I have an affinity for bands from Florida (Anberlin, Fake Problems, screamo act You’ll Live, etc.) and flipturn are the latest addition to bands from The Sunshine State that do it for me. Oddly enough, it is their track “Chicago” that drew me to these guys. Rarely do I make room for “good vibes” in my life (I have been told my aura is often intense and off-putting), but flipturn’s catalogue is loaded with roll-down-the-windows tracks that sound like summer and I always have room in my life for bands like that.
Wet Leg (2:50-3:30): If there is one flaw with the Lollapalooza schedule this year, it is that they decided to wage war with international ramifications by pitting England’s Wet Leg against Australia’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. These bands are scheduled at the same time on Friday afternoon and that is bad news for everyone reading this. They both put out records this year that have crawled into my brain and taken up permanent residency, but unfortunately our friends from Melbourne will have to be seen another time. Wet Leg have put out the first great British party record in years. Their self-titled effort is seductive and care-free at a time in which the weight of the world is often too much to carry. Wet Leg is a simple band singing about simple times. With only a few dozen US concerts under their belt, this is a can’t-miss set for me.
Turnstile (7:45-8:45): Let me put it to you this way: if I find out you were at Lolla on Saturday night and you weren’t at the Grove stage for Turnstile, you can go ahead and lose my number. Our friendship contract will be null and void going forward. Turnstile is the best band in the world right now (Internet critics Stereogum said so) and their Saturday night set will be the biggest performance of their lives. There will come a time, years from now, when you will either be able to brag about seeing Turnstile on this epic run of shows, or you will be lying to your friends and telling them that you were there in an effort to save face. For the better part of a decade, they have been playing songs fit for stadiums in halls that reach capacity at 1,000 people. It wasn’t until 2021’s “GLOW ON”, a tour de force in rock excellence, that their talent was noticed by the masses. Originally a hardcore band entrenched in the DIY scene, Turnstile has earned a seal of approval from the likes of 311’s Nick Hexum, Post Malone, a bevy of late night talk show hosts. They are punk music for punks, dance music for people that love to dance, and alternative music for people that have been aching for guitars to find their way back onto the airwaves. More than any other band on this lineup, they embody the spirit that Lollapalooza set out to capture 21 years ago. I’ve never felt more confident giving a band my seal of approval.
KennyHoopla (4:00-4:45): Can we finally start to put some respect on KennyHoopla’s name? I was isolated in Middle of Nowhere, Indiana at the start of the pandemic when the Cleveland-born musician came into my life. His shriek, for lack of a better term, immediately caught me off guard. I wasn’t prepared for lyrics befitting of the main stage at Warped Tour over dance beats on his 2020 EP and I wasn’t expecting him to seamlessly flow into the Travis Barker universe the way that he did with their mixtape the following year. Hoopla has a knack for sounding like he’s on the brink of exhaustion at all times. It’s what I like about his sound. I can’t picture a better way to close out my weekend, after three long days in the sun, than with thousands of others who have also had it up to here. Hoopla is the perfect soundtrack for that.
Until next time,