There’s something achingly nostalgic about Lollapalooza’s 2017 lineup. Maybe it’s seeing Muse at the top of the bill for a third time in a decade? Or the fact that Arcade Fire and The Killers are together again like it’s 2005? Or perhaps it’s all the blatant indie rock? Wait, is that fucking Live on there? As in, Ed Kowalczyk’s Live? It is!
Yeah, there are plenty of reasons to be reaching for that pair of rose-tinted lenses while looking at this lineup, and not all of them are entirely positive. Because really, the strongest hallmarks of this poster aren’t what defined us 10-15 years ago, but what’s happening right now in the present, and for that, it’s not too shabby.
Chance the Rapper gets to finish his marathon year at home to arguably his biggest crowd. Lorde gets to be trusted with a headlining slot, despite the fact that this could have happened three years ago (no lie). Run the Jewels look primed to take the big stage after slumming it on the sidelines multiple times. And yes, we got Migos.
Oh, the Atlanta collective aren’t the only gem to be found in the rough. Ryan Adams, who’s been missing from so many lineups this summer, returns for the first time in over a decade, bringing with him this year’s best record. Spoon is also joining in for the fun, as are The xx, Cloud Nothings, The Japanese House, and Liam Gallagher.
Of course, that doesn’t make up for the downright ugly inclusions on this lineup, all of which we’ll get into in the pages ahead. These range from festival repeats/leftovers to downright carnival fare that simply doesn’t belong on a Lollapalooza lineup, at least not where they’re all currently at in their respective careers. Oh well?
That’s one way to see it. Another way is to step back, look at it as a whole, and take this lineup for what it is: an agreeable tribute to the core values of Lollapalooza with a top line that stresses a love for alternative music. Sure, some of their choices may be uninspiring, to say the least, but you can’t fault them for trying to be succinct.
So, see you in August? Sure, why not.
Chance the Rapper
Photo by Heather Kaplan
By far the biggest story of the weekend will be Chance the Rapper’s hometown showdown. Out of all the headlining spots he’s got booked this summer, none hold as much weight as this one. It’s another graduation story for the books — going from Lolla’s BMI Stage in 2013 to Pitchfork’s main stage in 2015 to whatever field the White Sox play on these days in 2016 to back to Lolla as a headliner — and it’s all the better because it’s a local hero. Here’s hoping he actually invites his friends to join him on stage this time around, especially since Lil Yachty and Noname are on the lineup and Grant Park is more or less a train ride away for Saba, BJ the Chicago Kid, and the Chicago Children’s Choir. If he’s lucky, maybe Obama stops by! –Michael Roffman
Photo by David Brendan Hall
Talk has cooled about Arcade Fire’s forthcoming new album, mostly because we know so little about it. But with the band’s first North American headlining set of 2017, that is likely to change. While it’s hardly guaranteed that the Canadian indie rock institution are going to be debuting new songs in Chicago, that possibility adds prestige to a lineup that generally lacks it. Plus, there’s the little known fact that Arcade Fire are one of the best live bands on the planet. That’s a win any day in our book. –Philip Cosores
Photo by Heather Kaplan
Fun fact: Ryan Adams hasn’t played Lollapalooza since 2006. For awhile there, we were starting to think he had a miserable experience, or that he was maybe allergic to something in Grant Park. Nevertheless, he’s back, and with arguably his greatest album in nearly two decades, which only adds more oomph to the ahh. And considering he’s been slotted on hands down the weakest day of the festival, this dickhead writer is going to pretend he’s the true Friday night headliner and leave shortly after his set, preferably humming every song off Prisoner as he makes his way to the closest train home. –Michael Roffman
Photo by Ben Kaye
The top line of Lolla’s billing looks a little backwards for our preference, but that second line at least lands squarely into some of the brightest stars of the present. Tops among them is Lorde, whose sophomore album will be a month old come festival time. With a set that’s likely to take place on the lower stakes Bud Light stage, and competing against one of the fest’s top-billed acts, Lorde will be eased into the art of festival headlining. At that point, she’ll already be performing at festivals, meaning that Chicago should be in for a well-tuned machine from one of music’s most exciting young artists. –Philip Cosores
Raindrops, drop tops, one of America’s hottest rap groups is on the lineup. Migos is a group that might have gone to Pitchfork in the past, but demonstrates a pretty strong swell of critical successes that opted for Lolla this time around (also of note: 21 Savage, Rae Sremmurd, Noname, Kaytranada, Run the Jewels, Mac DeMarco, Spoon, Sampha). Sure, many of these groups are big commercial successes, too, but with a bill that largely skews to the mainstream, it’s important to get these crossovers and not lose out to artists looking to align themselves with Chicago’s hipper, other festival. –Philip Cosores
Photo by Eric Forberger
When we spoke with Live last month, the band noted their excitement at playing 2017 music festivals, and in many ways, they might be the next Third Eye Blind, in that they are a 90’s act getting placed among the best of contemporary music on lineups. Lollapalooza is Live’s biggest festival gig that’s since been announced, and will likely play huge in Grant Park. Fans turn up for songs that they know, and Live promises that in spades whenever they perform. –Philip Cosores
So Much Indie Rock
Photo by Philip Cosores
What is this, 2007? For a genre that continues to dig one foot deeper into its grave every year, Lollapalooza sure as hell tripled-down on the indie rock/pop. Read between the lines and you’ll see stuff like The Shins, The Head and the Heart, Tegan and Sara, Car Seat Headrest, Whitney, Grouplove, Foster the People, London Grammar, Mac DeMarco, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Sylvan Esso, Little Dragon, The Drums, Alvvays, et al. We’re not complaining, it’s just a surprising change from the festival’s more recent proclivity to book EDM and dance rock. Just don’t forget your corduroy. –Michael Roffman