RedEye does Lolla: Our preview picks and pans

Because we understand how overwhelming that schedule can be

July 30, 2013|By RedEye Sound Board

So many bands! So many decisions! Before you panic, we're here to help. Here's some must-see (and missable) picks from our music crew to help you plot out your weekend. And even we can't agree on everything! (Except for Chance the Rapper, that is.)

Andy Downing

Friday 

Absolute must-see: Father John Misty (3:15-4:15 p.m., Lake Shore stage). The former Fleet Fox writes songs that can bust your gut or break your heart.

Absolute must-not see: Lance Herbstrong (7:30-8:15 p.m., Petrillo stage). Because the only thing worse than the awful, awful name is the music.

Hardest decision: Queens of the Stone Age (6:15-7:30 p.m., Bud Light stage) vs. Chance the Rapper (6:50-7:30 p.m., BMI stage). Queens sound revitalized on the explosive “...Like Clockwork,” but the Chicago MC’s “Acid Rap” is among the year’s best.

Easiest decision: Nine Inch Nails (8:15-10 p.m., Bud Light stage) over the Killers (8:25-10 p.m. at Red Bull Sound Select stage). I’ll take Trent’s dark visions over the Killers’ Vegas glitz any day.

Pick to click: Emeli Sande (1-1:45 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage). Though the U.K. native obviously lacks Adele’s pipes, her stately music has a similar appeal.

Local artist you have to catch: Chance the Rapper. He’s the most vital artist making music in Chicago today.

Saturday 


Absolute must-see: Kendrick Lamar (6:45-7:45 p.m., Bud Light stage). While the California rapper crushes with a mic in his hand, his songwriting proves he’s every bit as adept with a pen.

Absolute must-not see: Matt & Kim (3:45-4:45 p.m., Petrillo stage). Because the duo’s music is as developmentally arrested and obnoxious as every character Vince Vaughn portrays on film these days.

Hardest decision: Eric Church (5-6 p.m., Lake Shore stage) vs. Unknown Mortal Orchestra (4:45-5:30 p.m., the Grove stage). Church is among the best songwriters working the country circuit, but the Orchestra play 1960s psych-rock with admirable flair.

Easiest decision: Charles Bradley (2:45-3:45 p.m., Bud Light stage) over anything else. The soul vet’s impassioned shows leave blood on the stage.

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): Wheeler Brothers (noon-12:45 p.m., Lake Shore stage). These folk-rock revivalists join a crowded field that includes Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers, etc.

Local artist you have to catch: Supreme Cuts (7:45-8:30 p.m., Petrillo stage). The experimental electronic duo crafted a dense dream world on “Whispers in the Dark.”

Sunday 


Absolute must-see: Baroness (3:30-4:30 p.m., Petrillo stage). This inventive Atlanta crew specializes in metal that’s both brawny and brainy.

Absolute must-not see: Nightmare & the Cat (2:10-2:50 p.m., BMI stage). While the group’s musical pedigree is undeniable (band bros Sam and Django Stewart are the offspring of Eurythmics’ Dave), their songs tend to be forgettable.

Hardest decision: Phoenix (8:30-10 p.m., Bud Light stage) vs. the Cure (8-10 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage). Feeling bummed out? Commiserate with the Cure. Flying high? Pogo along to Phoenix.

Easiest decision: Vampire Weekend (6:30-7:45 p.m., Bud Light stage) over Grizzly Bear (6-7 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage) and Beach House (7-8 p.m., Lake Shore stage). While Grizzly Bear and Beach House are content to stick to sleepy ballads, Vampire Weekend uncovered a welcome dark side on “Modern Vampires of the City.”

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): Jake Bugg (1:45-2:30 p.m., Petrillo stage). The young U.K. folkie is no fan of fest headliner Mumford & Sons, dissing them as “posh farmers with banjos,” yet his self-titled debut would likely appeal to the London crew’s growing legions.

Local artist you have to catch: The Orwells (1-1:45 p.m, the Grove stage). The barely legal gang reaches garage rock nirvana on its latest EP, “Other Voices.”

Adam Lukach

Friday 

Absolute must-see: Chance the Rapper (6:50-7:30 p.m., BMI stage). Chance has torn up 2013 the way Keef did 2012, but hopefully his Lolla set is better/actually sounds like a concert.

Absolute must-not see: Icona Pop (1:45-2:30 p.m., Lake Shore stage). Too early in the fest, too early in the day. Love ‘em, but just too early.

Hardest decision: Is the least “meh” act of Friday night the reunited NIN? Lana Del Rey, a twirler in a world of twerking? Brandon Flowers, master of modern arena rock? Who is Steve Aoki? Apathy is Friday night’s real star.

Easiest decision: Crystal Castles (4:15-5:15 p.m., Red Bull Sound select stage) over Band of Horses (4:15-5:15 p.m., Bud Light stage). Their band names say it all, really.

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): The Neighbourhood (Noon-12:45 p.m., Petrillo stage). A dark PBR&B band with an oddly-spelled name. Definitely about to pop off.

Saturday 


Absolute must-see: Kendrick Lamar (6:45-7:45 p.m., Bud Light stage). Hip-hop’s current golden child comes through Lolla for one of his biggest sets ever.

Absolute must-not see: The Postal Service (8:30-10 p.m., Bud Light stage). Postal Service hardly has enough material for a headlining set, let alone a good one. This should devolve into sad Ben Gibbard covers of stuff like Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy.”

Hardest decision/Easiest decision: Kendrick Lamar or The National (6-7:15 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage) over Death Grips (7:15-8:15 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage). But which one to see? No one (not even me) can blame you for picking the National, who are a low-key thunderous show thanks to Matt Berninger.

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): Cherub (noon-12:45 p.m., Perry’s stage). An electro-pop duo that’s more groove than bounce. If you haven’t heard “Doses and Mimosas,” you need to.

Sunday 


Absolute must-see: Phoenix (8:30-10 p.m., Bud Light stage). I don’t really care that they were “just here” three years ago. Have you ever been to a Phoenix show? They’re awesome.

Absolute must-not see: The Cure (8-10 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage). A moaning 2-hour set from an antihistamine-addled, mascara-smeared pus-bag Robert Smith. Yikes.

Hardest decision: Major Lazer (7-8:15 p.m., Perry’s stage) vs. Beach House (7-8 p.m., Lake Shore stage) vs. 2 Chainz (7:15-8:15 p.m., the Grove stage)? To twerk, to vibe or 2 Chainz?

Easiest decision: Wavves (4:45-5:30 p.m., the Grove stage) over Two Door Cinema Club (4:30-5:30 p.m., Bud Light stage). I’ll take sad nihilism punk over (admittedly catchy) dance pop because it’s just that point of the festival.

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): MS MR. (3:30-4:15 p.m., the Grove stage). Some weird, woozy trip-hop from a pair on the cusp of blowing up.

Local artist you have to catch: The Orwells (1-1:45 p.m., the Grove stage). They’ve been called Smith Westerns 2.0, but these dudes are really raw and should be a great afternoon set.

Dana Moran

Friday

Absolute must-see: Chance the Rapper (6:50-7:30 p.m., BMI stage). If you haven’t caught his mixtape, “Acid Rap,” you’re wasting time.

Absolute must-not see: Lana Del Rey (8:45-9:45 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage). I’m too disappointed she doesn’t do anything in a llama costume.

Hardest decision: Band of Horses (4:15-5:15 p.m., Bud Light stage) over Crystal Castles (4:15-5:15 p.m., Red Bull Sound select stage). And they’re at opposite ends too, so this really is a commitment.

Easiest decision: Imagine Dragons (5:15-6:15 p.m., Lake Shore stage) over Thievery Corporation (5:15-6:15 p.m., Petrillo stage). Note: The crowd for Imagine will be huuuuuuge.

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): Icona Pop (1:45-2:30 p.m., Lake Shore stage). I mean, you KNOW this band. They sing “I Love It.” But it’s time to learn more.

Local artist you have to catch: Chance the Rapper. Seriously, people, he references RedEye in a song.

Saturday

Absolute must-see: The Postal Service (8:30-10 p.m., Bud Light stage). Holy crap I am going to pass out. Sure, I may be a little biased here given that Ben Gibbard and I are from the same town, but whatever.

Absolute must-not see: Pujol (1-1:45 p.m., the Grove stage). I know nothing about this band, but I cannot deal with the name.

Hardest decision: Kendrick Lamar (6:45-7:45 p.m., Bud Light stage) over The National (6-7:15 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage). Completely opposite acts who are both awesome, but I saw The National in 2011.

Easiest decision: Ellie Goulding (4:45-5:45 p.m., Bud Light stage) over Unknown Mortal Orchestra (4:45-5:30 p.m., the Grove stage) and Baauer (4:30-5:30 p.m., Perry’s stage). She’s this year’s Florence Welch, and this set promises to be spectacular.

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): St. Lucia (2:15-3 p.m., the Grove stage). It’s really too bad this set isn’t happening at twilight, because his ethereal vibe would be perfect in that lighting. We’ll just have to enjoy him in the heat.

Sunday

Absolute must-see: Beach House (7-8 p.m., Lake Shore stage). It puts you in perfect position for The Cure, and their lovely sounds will sound even more delicious and mellow as the sun goes down.

Absolute must-not see: Anything starting at noon. By God, there is brunch to go to on Sundays. It’s Day 3 and you’re barely standing as it is!

Hardest decision: The Cure (8-10 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage) over Phoenix (8:30-10 p.m., Bud Light stage)/Cat Power(8:45-9:45 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage)/Knife Party(8:45-10 p.m., Perry’s stage). You guys, Cat Power’s new album is so good. But apparently I’m just dying to turn into a Robert Smith-induced puddle of goo. Seriously, “Pictures of You” made me sob during spin class one time.

Easiest decision: The Vaccines (5:30-6:30 p.m., Petrillo stage) over Bear Mountain (5:40-6:20 p.m., BMI stage). I, for one, am ready to rock my butt off. In fact, writing that made me nostalgic for last year’s lineup ...

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): The Orwells (1-1:45 p.m., the Grove stage). They just graduated from high school, and you know what that means: Time. To. Party.

Local artist you have to catch: Wild Belle (1:30-2:15 p.m., Lake Shore stage). They’ve been on our cover, and will be huuuuuge one of these days.

Matt Pais

Friday

Absolute must-see: Frightened Rabbit (7:15-8:15 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage). The Scottish rockers have played Lolla before. So what? Chant, cry, pump fist, repeat.

Absolute must-not see: IO Echo (12:45-1:30 p.m., Bud Light stage). Mood is not enough. You actually need good songs.

Hardest decision: Next to Frightened Rabbit (see above) vs. Chance the Rapper (see below), it’s Jessie Ware (3:15-4:15 p.m., Petrillo stage) vs. Houndmouth (3:20-4 p.m., BMI stage). In the battle of buzzy artists, Houndmouth will be more immediate, but Jessie will be more memorable.

Easiest decision: Nine Inch Nails (8:15-10 p.m., Bud Light stage) over Lana Del Rey (8:45-9:45 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage) and the Killers (8:25-10 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage). Only one of those artists is a reliable live performer with ace material.

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): Deap Vally (1:30-2:15 p.m., Petrillo stage). Notable because they totally smash, not because they’re women. There will be air guitars in the crowd.

Local artist you have to catch: Chance the Rapper (6:50-7:30 p.m., BMI stage). The best thing in the rising Chicago rap community right now.

Saturday

Absolute must-see: Haim (3:30-4:15 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage). The L.A. outfit has only released a few songs, but its intersection of folk and R&B makes them one of the most promising and exhilarating acts on the bill.

Absolute must-not see: Mumford and Sons (8:15-10 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage) and Azealia Banks (8:45-9:45 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage). Listen to the same song over and over, or hear why a rapper’s buzz outshines her underwhelming music? Neither.

Hardest decision: St. Lucia (2:15-3 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage) vs. Charles Bradley (2:45-3:45 p.m., Bud Light stage) vs. Court Yard Hounds (3-4 p.m.,  Lakeshore stage). Immediately lovable, synth-driven pop songs, classic, howling soul or country-folk from Dixie Chicks alums? Wander and catch all if you can.

Easiest decision: Death Grips (7:15-8:15 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage) over the Lumineers (7:15-8:15 p.m., Lakeshore stage). Anyone’s better than the excruciating, cutesy folk ensemble. Head to the forward-thinking hip-hop outfit instead.

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): Haim. As a second choice? Family of the Year (12-12:30 p.m., Samsung Galaxy stage). They know how to do accessible indie folk-pop without drifting into overly polished annoyance.

Local artist you have to catch: Supreme Cuts (7:45-8:30 p.m., Petrillo stage). Well, you don’t have to. The dreamlike group is just the day’s only local option.

Sunday

Absolute must-see: Angel Haze (2-3 p.m., Perry’s stage). Here’s a hyped rapper that deserves your attention. She’s fought Banks (on record), and she’s won.

Absolute must-not see: Vampire Weekend (6:30-7:45 p.m., Bud Light stage) and Grizzly Bear (6-7 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage). One’s irritating, the other’s sleepy and both are lousy live.

Hardest decision: Palma Violets (1-1:45 p.m., Bud Light stage) vs. The Orwells (1-1:45 p.m., the Grove stage). Two exciting garage rock outfits. Choose the locals (The Orwells) over the English act.

Easiest decision: Knife Party (8:45-10 p.m., Perry’s stage) over Phoenix (8:30-10 p.m., Bud Light stage), The Cure (8-10 p.m., Red Bull Sound Select stage), Cat Power (8:45-9:45 p.m. at Samsung Galaxy stage). Do you actually care about seeing any of the latter three, for the first time or again? Just go dance.

Pick to click (little-known band that will increase in popularity): Jake Bugg (1:45-2:30 p.m., Petrillo stage). The 19-year-old singer-songwriter became a big star very quickly in his native England. He deserves more love in the States.

Local artist you have to catch: The Orwells. See above.

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