Friday, May 10, 2013

Lollapalooza 2013 artist preview: Part one

By Frank Krolicki

As I write this, it's a gray, 40-something degree May day in Chicago. Not exactly the kind of day that would remind you of the fact that the sunny days of music festivals are right around the corner. But with that being the case, what better time than the present to think about those brighter, tune-filled times to come?

Since starting to attend music festivals, the only one I've been to every single year is Lollapalooza. I haven't missed an installment since it became a yearly event in Chicago in 2005, so it holds a special place for me out of all the fest options in this city. And although August might seem a long way away, Lolla 2013 will be here before we know it, so it's not too soon to start preparing. This year, I'll be periodically writing a bit about a handful of artists in the lineup, beginning with the five below. So get thinking about what your plan of action will be come August 2nd, and be sure to let us know who you're going to make sure to make time for in Grant Park this year.

YAWN (playing Sunday, August 4th)
Let's start off with some locals. As I've written many times before, I'd always like to see more Chicago-based acts in each year's Lolla lineup. But at least there's always a few, and this year YAWN is one of them (along with Smith Westerns, Wild Belle, The Orwells and Chance the Rapper). I first wrote about this band's psych-pop sound back in 2009 when they released their debut EP, at that point describing the sound as "falling somewhere between the tribal hooks of Vampire Weekend and the synthy glee of Passion Pit, ultimately ending up with a lush, enchanting breed of indie pop that's well worth a listen." Since then they've been keeping the momentum going with regular shows and the release of a full-length, Open Season, which WCR's Andrew Hertzberg wrote about. YAWN's percussive, breezy style should serve as a definite treat in the Lolla sunshine.

Wild Nothing (playing Sunday, August 4th)
Sometime in the not-so-distant past I listened to Wild Nothing's song "Drifter" about 50 times in a row. Just writing that sentence makes me want to do it again. It's my favorite song off 2010's Gemini, but there were quite a few songs I really enjoyed off that record, and I'm trying to come up with a logical reason as to why I haven't dived into their newest album, Nocturne, yet. It's just been added to my "to-do" list, and so has seeing Wild Nothing's set at Lolla.

Heartless Bastards (playing Saturday, August 3rd)
When a band has a kickass female singer, I hate to always mention that, like the gender of a kickass frontperson is something that necessarily needs to be mentioned. But I kind of can't help myself when it comes to Heartless Bastards, because the voice of Erika Wennerstrom is just so unique and unexpected that it needs to be pointed out as being special. Paired with a impassioned, often bluesy musical approach, it's a force of nature. Make time for Heartless Bastards Saturday if you need a dose of straight up, straight from the gut rock and roll.

Beach House (playing Sunday, August 4th)
One of the reasons why I love music so much is because of those rare moments when you're listening to something, suddenly get a shiver throughout your body and think, "holy shit, this is unbelievably amazing." I recently had multiple moments like that while listening to Beach House's latest, Bloom. For example, "Myth" is complete emotional catharsis in the form of a four-minute dream pop song, and "Wishes"--particularly its bridge--is pure magic. At their best, this band is capable of reaching musical heights that seem almost unreachable. While this type of music almost never sounds quite as amazing live as it does recorded, I personally still wouldn't pass up this set up.

Local Natives (playing Saturday, August 3rd)
Local Natives are one of those bands I've been constantly "meaning to get to," ever since they released their debut album Gorilla Manor in 2010. I have yet to hear that album or their newest, Hummingbird, in their entirety. But I like what I have heard. "Breakers," for example, gives me a moody Echo & the Bunnymen vibe--something I'm a sucker for. So I'm planning to take advantage of the band appearing in the Lolla lineup this year by checking out what they have to offer live.

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