Day 1 (8/3)
I kicked off the festival weekend with Finish Ticket, a band I’ve been listening to since I was a freshman in high school. The band almost didn’t make it to the festival because of van issues, as detailed in my interview with band members after their set—but I’m glad they did. Finish Ticket is the perfect example of modern indie rock. They have an intense energy and joy playing the music, with a heavy focus on guitar.
The first and last time I saw The Beaches was at Riot Fest Chicago in 2019. I didn’t know the band, but stumbled upon its set and was blown away—it was the first time I’d seen an all-women indie rock band. Much of my music influences growing up were men in rock, and I enjoy their music. But something sparked in me seeing The Beaches power through its set. They had some technical issues on stage, but you’d never have guessed.
The Beaches are one of those bands that you know love playing together. It’s impossible to not get wrapped into members’ chemistry and dynamic energy on stage. It’s fast, upbeat rock and it doesn’t miss a beat on timing. All five women on stage have an instrument on hand, and crisp vocals. They remind me of popular women-fronted bands like Haim but have an approach all their own. It’s refreshing to see The Beaches at a festival like Lollapalooza, where most rock bands playing are composed of men.
Portugal. The Man
First off, wow. I had no expectations going into Portugal. The Man’s set, to be honest. I knew a few songs by the band going in, ones I’d heard on the radio, such as Feel It Still, but hadn’t had the band on my radar too much. And as soon as Portugal. The Man played the first note of its first song, I was in shock.
The band rocked harder than I expected, with nearly 10 people on stage putting their whole beings into the performance. Even the songs I knew going into it sounded different live. Portugal. The Man moved from a traditional rock sound to energetic pop rock, to a groovy psych rock. The band was unexpectedly dynamic. And it paired the music with captivating visuals of colorful paint splotches on screen, making it an immersive experience.
Bands like Portugal. The Man are what makes festivals like Lollapalooza so appealing. It’s a space to see bands you’d normally not think twice about paying to see as a headliner. Now, I can hardly wait until I can see the band headline their own show.
Day 2 (8/4)
I’m biased toward Peach Pit. It’s been that band for me for a while and sitting down with them last month at Levitate Music Festival solidified my support for the band. Though members said they wouldn’t open with Raining Blood at a music festival, they did at Lollapalooza! (I’m going to tell myself it was me who convinced them to do so).
Standing deep in a massive crowd of people by the Coinbase stage, most were confused by its opening choice—which made it even better. Peach Pit went on to rock through a mixed set of its old hits like Tommy’s Party, to newer songs from its latest album From 2 to 3. The set was what I expected, having seen the band several times before. But the festival set can’t beat seeing Peach Pit headline a show. That’s a must-see.
This was another wow set for me. At the ripe age of 24, I don’t tend to throw myself in the crowd anymore. I can appreciate music from afar, more comfortably than having to mosh with people in the front row. But Foals was a band that I absolutely needed to be close to.
I can’t even describe what the band looked like; it was one of those shows in which I had my eyes closed most of the time—dancing like I hadn’t danced before at a show. It’s been a while since I felt the urge to get up and really be part of the show, rather than just a bystander. And it seemed that everyone in the crowd felt the same way. There wasn’t a soul standing still during that set.
I was even planning to leave the set early to catch more of Declan McKenna on a separate stage but could not bear to leave and miss a single moment. Foals are the rock band to pay attention to right now.
This is the first time I’ve seen a hardcore punk band on the Lollapalooza lineup as a headliner. On a night when both Kendrick Lamar and The 1975 are also headlining, Knocked Loose’s set gave fans of punk and sanctuary under the trees surrounding the Bacardi Stage.
Punk music is one thing, but Knocked Loose is a whole other realm. The band is heavy, falling in line closer with metalcore. If you thought Metallica was a heavy headliner last year, Knocked Loose will make you think again.
I walked over to the Knocked Loose set, tired from the full day of music, as fans sprinted past me—hoping to get a spot deep in the crowd near the stage as the drinks in their hands splashed out of their cups. The band didn’t have as big of a crowd as the other two stages, but the fans there were all-in.
The minute I heard the first song, Knocked Loose breathed new energy into me. It’s a niche genre, but it’s an intimate one. Hardcore punk is about letting your emotions fly free and serves as an escape from the noise outside. It was a captivating set that sparked a resurgence of listening to punk rock for me.
Day 3 (8/5)
The Linda Lindas
The third day of the festival was met with a morning and afternoon full of rain, but all the sets went on. The rain certainly didn’t slow down The Linda Lindas, a rock band from LA. Since their 2021 video performance of their song Racist, Sexist Boy in the LA Public Library went viral, the girl group has been unstoppable.
Linda Lindas didn’t go viral for no reason—it goes hard live. Its take on punk as an outlet for anger is refreshingly catchy, reminding me of the likes of Bikini Kill. The youngest member of the band being 11 years old, it’s exciting to see the possibilities of their growth as artists right in front of you.
As the rain came down, a massive crowd danced and moshed to the pop-punk hooks. Linda Lindas are impossible not to adore.
The alternative indie pop-rock singer-songwriter is right at home on stage. Music moves her; the music moves through her. Rogers is another artist I’ve been listening to for years—seems to be a common theme this year at Lolla.
Her music comes to life on stage with a powerfully talented band supporting her as she glides across the stage with ease, her angelic vocals wafting through the air. Rogers is an intricate writer and performer, an educated musician who is constantly perfecting her craft.
It was one of those performances that you’ll never forget. The sky was a hazy blue with cloud coverage and the sun starting to set. The air was calm, until she started singing Fallingwater. As if on cue, a light drizzle began falling from the sky as she harmonized. Her set ended with a massive rainbow decorating the festival grounds.
Day 4 (8/6)
I can honestly say that Dehd is one of my favorite bands right now, and it’s from Chicago. I not only made sure I was deep in the crowd for its set at Lolla, but I also showed up ready to dance at the band’s after-show that same night at Thalia Hall—where it played until 1 a.m. Yes, I’m exhausted. But I’ll never miss a Dehd show.
The alternative rock band is bare bones, with one guitar, bass and a standup drum set, yet its sound exceeds all expectations. It’s a lively rock act, with the duo of shouting vocals from Emily Kempf and Jason Balla. When comparing the two crowds, I’ll always choose the more intimate, small venue shows that Dehd puts on. At 1 a.m. I was huddled close to random people, singing every word at the top of our lungs and brushing up against each other as we danced.
Dehd provides an alternative take on pop-punk, without all the extra production. The sound is raw, edgy and full of color. As someone who has seen the band eight times—thrashing my head and body around with eyes closed—Dehd is the best rock band in Chicago. And it’s making a name for itself outside the boundaries of the city.
A last-minute addition to the Lollapalooza lineup, I didn’t know Alvvays was playing until the day before its set. I, of course, made the time to relive the band’s dynamic set—like the one I experienced at Pitchfork Music Festival last month.
Alvvays’ music holds a lot of grit, embracing the beauty of imperfection in sound. It’s a pop-rock that is easy to dance to but doesn’t get too wrapped up in repetition. Percussion leads the tempo, but it’s the guitar chords that bring a dynamic, layered sound to its live performances.
But Alvvays also understands the power of silence at the right moments, isolating vocals, and then coming back in at full force. After The Earthquake off its latest album Blue Rev is a perfect example of an amped up sound, with space in between for a moment to take it all in.
Lollapalooza veterans, but newcomers to the main stage, folk rock collective Mt. Joy brought good vibes to the festival. The grounds surrounding the stage was one big mud pit, with puddles of ankle-deep water scattering portions of the grass. It was like a snapshot from Woodstock, only people weren’t yet coated in the mud.
For me, things get harder when bands I enjoy become more acclaimed, playing bigger venues and attracting larger crowds. It takes away the personal connection to the band. But I enjoyed Mt. Joy from way back on the lawn and felt completely at peace. It’s soothing music that rocks your mind and body to the beat. It’s perfect festival music—an easy-going groove that gets everyone swaying in their spots, looking up to the sky in pure bliss.
It’s a band that likes to change up its sound a bit at a live show, too. The band’s elongated rendition of their song Julia included transitions to covers of Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers and Crazy by CeeLo Green, bringing it all back to the end of its own song.
If you have a specific taste in music, like rock, it can be hard sometimes to find enough sets at a festival with artists from nearly every genre on the lineup. But this year’s Lollaplooza Chicago featured some of the hottest names in indie, folk and punk rock, bringing in a whole new level of instrumentation to the festival grounds.
Kendall Polidori is The Rockhound, Luckbox‘s resident rock music critic. Follow her reviews on Instagram and Twitter. @rockhoundlb