Lollapalooza gets underway later today (8/1), and if you're not there you can stream it live. Whether you're spending the weekend in Grant Park or just watching from your couch, there's so much great stuff on the lineup to see and -- especially with some tough set time conflicts -- it can be overwhelming to put together your schedule so we've made a list of 11 non-headliners not to miss.
We're just as excited as anybody for the big, well-established names like The Strokes, Tame Impala, Childish Gambino, Death Cab For Cutie, Kacey Musgraves, Janelle Monae, J Balvin, Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Tenacious D, and more, and we've been big fans lower-font indie acts like Mitski and Japanese Breakfast for a while, but we've highlighted those artists on these kinds of festival lists for years and we wanted to shine a light on a few different artists this time.
YBN CORDAE (Thursday, 1 PM on Bud Light Stage)
YBN Cordae initially emerged as member of the internet-rap collective YBN, and though the pop-minded YBN Nahmir was the group's first star, the more classic hip hop-minded YBN Cordae has recently been emerging as the group's true MVP. He released his debut solo album The Lost Boy last week, and similar to Chance the Rapper and Anderson .Paak (who both feature on it), the album mixes traditional skill with an approachability and earnestness that makes Cordae easily accessible to all kinds of rap listeners. He might be as big as those guys one day, but for now he's got a very early 1 PM set (which is in like an hour from now), so stop reading this and go see him!!
GOTHBOICLIQUE (Thursday, 5:40 PM on BMI Stage)
Emo-rap collective GothBoiClique formed earlier this decade, they started getting more attention after the late Lil Peep joined, and lately co-founder Wicca Phase Springs Eternal (aka former Tigers Jaw co-frontman Adam McIlwee) has been taking off more than ever before too. The collective is on a tour now, with lineups rotating from show to show, and Lolla is one of the only dates on the tour that has Wicca Phase on board, along with groupmates Cold Hart, Horse Head, YAWNS, Fish Narc, Mackned and Døves. We're not fully sure what to expect from this set, but the chance to see all those artists on stage together sounds potentially awesome.
SABA (Thursday, 6:30 on American Eagle Stage)
Saba's a Chicago local, so it should be extra exciting to see him on his home turf. He put out one of the best rap albums of last year with Care For Me, a dark album that had death looming all over it, and this year his group Pivot Gang put out their own great new album, You Can't Sit With Us. So, needless to say, Saba has been on a roll lately. And considering that most of his key collaborators also live in Chicago (and one, the St. Louis-based Smino, is also playing Lollapalooza), it doesn't seem crazy to think he might bring some talented friends on stage.
KING PRINCESS (Thursday, 7:45 PM on Lake Shore Stage)
King Princess has been queering up the alt-pop scene for about a year now, and she's rising so quickly that we won't be surprised if she'll be billed even higher the next time she plays Lollapalooza. Her Mark Ronson collab "Pieces of Us" is one of the best songs on the new Mark Ronson album, and she's released a handful of promising singles off her own upcoming debut album, the latest being the very good "Prophet." She puts a unique, fresh twist on pop music and we suspect her set this weekend will be tons of fun.
TIERRA WHACK (Friday, 4 PM on American Eagle Stage)
Last year, the largely unknown Philly rapper released Whack World, an eccentric audio-visual album that's made up of 15 one-minute songs arranged in a collage-like manner. By the end of the year, it landed on tons of major publications' year-end lists, and artists like Earl Sweatshirt and Solange were hailing her as an influence on their own new music. She's since went on to appear on new albums by Beyonce and Flying Lotus. It seems like everyone who's anyone wants to work with her, and it's easy to see why. She brings a truly new perspective to hip hop, and she manages to be very experimental while remaining very listenable too.
IDLES (Friday, 3 PM on T-Mobile Stage)
The title of IDLES' recent, Mercury Prize-nominated album, Joy as an Act of Rebellion, is also an ethos for the UK band. Their shouty, infectious brand of punk accentuates the positive while addressing social issues and has really struck a chord with audiences, as has IDLES' hyperactive live show which tends to whip crowds into a sweaty frenzy. Songs like "Never Fight a Man with a Perm" and "I'm Scum" have the kind of choruses you'll know before they're over even if you haven't heard them before, and charismatic frontman Joe Talbot’s highly confrontational vocal style is perfect for crowd sing-a-longs, of which you can expect many at their Lollapalooza set.
SMINO (Saturday, 4 PM on Tito's Stage)
Smino is from St. Louis but he's very tight with the Chicago rap scene (as mentioned above, he collaborates with hometown hero Saba, and last year both of them appeared on the same Noname song). Aside from appearing on Noname's great and hugely-loved 2018 album, Smino released his own LP Noir at the tail-end of 2018, and it pairs very well with Noname, Saba, and others in that scene. As with Saba, we think it'll be especially exciting to see him on stage in Chicago.
J.I.D (Sunday, 2:30 PM on T-Mobile Stage)
Atlanta rapper J.I.D signed to J. Cole's Dreamville label in 2017, and he's been the label's brightest star since Cole himself. He's got a fast-paced, wordy style that's gained him comparisons to Kendrick Lamar, and he's good enough to deserve being mentioned in the same breath. His latest album, DiCaprio 2, came out near the end of 2018 and it still managed to (deservedly) make it onto a handful of lists of the year's best rap albums. His live shows can be especially wild, and he's also been known to bring out some pretty huge surprise guests.
DENZEL CURRY (Sunday, 5:15 PM on American Eagle Stage)
Florida rapper Denzel Curry is simply unstoppable lately. He released one of our favorite albums of 2018 with TA13OO, quickly followed it this year with the great album ZUU, and just this week he collaborated with both Fucked Up AND Bad Brains. He's a force in the hip hop world as well as in the rock world, yet he avoids all the negative stereotypes of "rap rock." It's not everyday you can say this about an artist, but there really isn't much music like Denzel Curry right now.
SHARON VAN ETTEN (Sunday, 5:30 PM on Lake Shore Stage)
Sharon Van Etten is the only artist we picked whose music we've been listening to and writing about for many years, but her new album Remind Me Tomorrow is very different for her and it's a contender for our album of the year, so we couldn't make this list without, uh, reminding you to see her. It sees her abandoning her guitars for synths, but otherwise working in a similar songwriting style to her past few albums, and coming out with some of the very best songs of her already-fruitful career (like "Seventeen," "Comeback Kid," "Jupiter 4," and "Malibu"). We caught her bringing those songs to life in NYC earlier this year, and live they're even better.
ROSALÍA (Sunday, 6 PM on Tito's Stage)
When Rosalía played NYC's Webster Hall earlier this year, the crowd screamed like we've almost never heard a Webster Hall crowd scream before. And Rosalía deserved every one of those cheers. El Mal Querer was one of 2018's best albums and she's only kept that momentum going with undeniable 2019 singles like "Con Altura" with J Balvin and "Fucking Money Man." And though she's been playing mid-sized clubs lately, her live show is already built for an arenas and we suspect it won't be long before she's actually playing them. This chance to potentially get up close to the stage at Lollapalooza is not worth missing, and even to do that, we recommend getting to her stage early (though sadly that would probably mean missing Denzel Curry and/or Sharon Van Etten). Also, her and J Balvin did "Con Altura" together at Coachella earlier this year, and our fingers are crossed that they do it again this weekend.