We could go on and on about why Lolla 2014 (Aug. 1-3 at Grant Park) will be awesome thanks to performances by well-known, acclaimed acts Outkast, Arctic Monkeys, Chance the Rapper and so forth. That’s true; it will be awesome.
Yet it’s a lot more useful to identify the bands that are less likely to attract tens of thousands of fans but still very much worthy of recognition. Here are the smaller artists we can’t wait to see--and not just because during the sets there actually may be room to dance without getting elbowed.
12:15-1 p.m. Fri. at Palladia stage
Start your fest ambitiously with this unpredictable ensemble, organized by classical music-influenced composter Ellis Ludwig-Leone and featuring, in addition to sax, trumpet and violin, vocals from Allen Tate (who will remind you of the National’s Matt Berninger) and Charlene Kaye, whose solo stuff is worth checking out too.
1:45-2:45 p.m. Fri. at Palladia stage
“Wildewoman,” the Brooklyn band’s full-length debut, offers continuous, girl group-flavored indie pop charm (those harmonies!) that never veers into cutesiness. It’s an instant good mood.
3:45-4:45 p.m. Fri. at Palladia stage
The Irish singer has a stop-in-your-tracks voice, which doesn’t always translate to a festival setting (especially in the mid-afternoon). But once the word spreads on him, watch out.
6:50-7:30 p.m. Fri. at BMI stage
Smart counter-programming for anyone not on the Lorde bandwagon, Royal Blood comes cut from the same cloth as Middle Class Rut, another two-piece that cranks, with the songs to back it up.
12-12:45 p.m. Fri. at Perry's stage
This group's performance will be the most-chill act at Perry's stage all weekend. If you're expecting body slams and steel chairs, you're in the wrong place.
Into It. Over It.
1-1:45 p.m. Fri. at the Grove stage
The next in a long line of Chicago sad-boy punk rockers, Evan Thomas Weiss gives a fresh coat of paint to emo rock that tugs at you, and then asks you to dance.
5:40-6:20 p.m. Fri. at BMI stage
Most electro-pop groups lose their appeal after a few tunes. Not the case with this duo, which will make you dance AND not make you want to roll your eyes!
12-12:45 p.m. Sat. at Lakeshore stage
A solid start to a highlight-filled day, this Pennsylvania act doesn’t do anything fancy, but it does guitar-driven Americana well. Thanks, Lolla, for booking them instead of having Delta Spirit again.
12:50-1:30 p.m. Sat. at the Grove stage
The exciting New Orleans singer-guitarist has only released a few songs (his self-titled debut arrives Aug. 19), but his punk-blues attack makes it pretty easy to understand why Jack White nabbed him as an opening act.
2:10-2:50 p.m. Sat. at BMI stage
Part jangle, part sand and all enjoyable, the band’s album “27 Ways” connects immediately without creating short attention spans. Desert Noises can shimmy and wail, with material that should translate perfectly to a mid-day Lolla crowd.
The Last Internationale
3:20-4 p.m. Sat. at BMI stage
Rage Against the Machine guitarist/Libertyville native Tom Morello produced the upcoming debut for these politically charged rockers (who call one song “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Indian Blood”). Also: Brad Wilk of Rage is the group’s drummer.
12-12:40 p.m. Sat. at BMI stage
A dreamier version of Chiddy Bang meets the better aspects of Kid Cudi. A good piece of alternative programming to start your Saturday.
12:45-1:30 p.m. Sat. at Samsung Galaxy stage
If some mad scientist merged a funk band with a cyborg, the result would be terrifying to look at but would probably sound like this London band.
1:50-2:30 p.m. Sat. at the Grove stage
Fans of '90s rap acts will gravitate towards this collective, whose members can dazzle with intricate wordplay. Speaking of '90s rappers, maybe Nas himself (performing later in the day) will stop by?
6:50-7:30 p.m. Sat. at BMI stage
One of the few Chicago acts on the bill, Mensa (formerly of now-defunct Kids These Days) has moved toward a house music vibe for the production supporting his dexterous rhymes. Hoping this set will be packed with local talent doing guest spots.
12:45-1:30 p.m. Sun. at Samsung Galaxy stage
An R&B singer who could go from buzzworthy to widely known very quickly as soon as her full-length debut arrives later this year. Be able to say you knew about her before everyone was talking.
2:15-3 p.m. Sun. at the Grove stage
You’ve already whistled along to the Swedish trio’s “Pumpin’ Blood,” which feels like it’s everywhere right now. There are plenty more catchy, summer-friendly winners on the recent, unfortunately titled “We Are Only What We Feel.”
2:15-3 p.m. Sun. at Samsung Galaxy stage
2013’s “Corsicana Lemonade” was one of my sleeper favorite albums of the year. This Austin foursome mixes the best parts of jazz, soul and punk rock into an unusual-yet-satisfactory gumbo.
3:30-4:15 p.m. Sun. at the Grove stage
New rule: If a song has an RAC remix, listen to that version first. The DJ/producer has worked with everyone from Phoenix to Tegan and Sara, with lush and danceable results.
5:40-6:20 p.m. Sun. at BMI stage
Channeling a fun '80s pop vibe, this Australian, New York-based singer is going to do her damnedest to ensure that this will be the happiest set of the weekend.
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Sidebar: 10 better-known acts you should also plan on
Outkast (8:15-10 p.m. Sat. at Samsung Galaxy stage)
Chance the Rapper (8:30-9:45 p.m. Sun. at Perry’s stage)
Arctic Monkeys (8:30-10 p.m. Fri. at Bud Light stage)
Manchester Orchestra (5:15-6:15 p.m. Sat. at Lake Shore stage)
Krewella (8:30-9:45 p.m. Sat. at Perry’s stage, unfortunately at the same time as Outkast L)
The 1975 (4:45-5:30 p.m. Sun. at the Grove stage)
J. Roddy Walston and the Business (2:45-3:45 p.m. Fri. at Bud Light stage)
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue (2:45-3:45 p.m. Sun. at Bud Light stage)
Run the Jewels (3:45-4:45 p.m. Sun. at Palladia stage)
Lykke Li (7:30-8:30 p.m. Fri. at Lake Shore stage)