So Many Bands, So Little Time: Some Advice on Lolla Scheduling

Lollapalooza is a complicated creature. The schedule is chock full of a varied mass of musicians, all offering different concert experiences. Some of which are also Lolla’s most famous alumni acts. With different stages, vibes, and genres to offer, how can one possibly navigate such a stacked schedule? Some people intensely strategize beforehand, plotting the routes they will sprint from show to show using the map. Others play it by ear, letting their mood and the wind determine their next destination. And many just follow their own mixture of the two! I’m here to try and aid you on your Lollapalooza journey. There are a number of conflicts on the schedule that will require festival goers to make some hard decisions. Read ahead for ways to cope with and work through these conflicts.

Nine Inch Nails (Bud Light, 8:15-10pm) vs. The Killers (8:25-10pm, Red Bull Sound Select)

Here is the first of many tricky situations I think we as music-fans need to figure out. What we have here are two big bands, set to perform at large stages for the predictably large audiences that will await them. The question is—which large audience will you be a part of? Nine Inch Nails have been legendary for awhile now and the fact that Trent Reznor retracted his decision to cease live NIN performances is reminiscent of the high demand. Given he’s madly passionate, loud, and experienced (He performed at the first Lollapalooza in 1991!), the show will undoubtedly be memorable. On the other hand, we have The Killers. This is their third time headlining Lollapalooza, very telling of their past success. Whether you’re in the mood for soft tunes, quick jams, or heartfelt vocals, The Killers will leave you satisfied. In the end, I think what matters here is your overall mood. If you’re not sure who to see, evaluate what you are able to handle at the time. Can you work with an energetic, booming concert and have the fuel left to match NIN’s? Or would you rather sit back and get lost in The Killer’s alternative sounds? It’s up to you.

Local Natives (4:00-5:00, Red Bull sound select) vs. Matt & Kim (3:45-4:45, Petrillo Music Shell)

The Local Natives performed at Lollapalooza in 2011 to an overwhelmingly large crowd. Learning from this experience, they have been appropriately repositioned to the large Red Bull stage. Matt & Kim have also performed at Lollapalooza to a crowd of fans, but they are going to be at the Petrillo Music Shell. There are a couple factors that can help in this tough decision. Would you rather sway to the soft, yet demanding songs of the Local Natives or bounce around to the tunes of Matt & Kim? On that note, both stages cater to different sized crowds. The Red Bull stage will be beyond packed for the Local Natives. Same goes for the Petrillo Music Shell, but there will be less space for the audience, meaning a smaller show. It’s also important to consider what bands will be performing before and/or after. If you happen to be at the stage before or after, staying will give you the chance to get closer to the front. For instance, if you’re already at Ben Howard, sticking around will help you get up front and personal with The Local Natives. Ultimately, this one is up to you. With all the factors playing into these two acts, you can’t blame yourself for missing the other.

Azealia Banks (The Grove, 8:45-9:45) vs. The Postal Service (8:30-10pm Bud Light)

Here’s one I’m personally really struggling with. I’ve loved the Postal Service since Give Up (2003) and still listen to them on a frequent basis. But Azealia Banks has captured my attention more recently, with fierce songs such as “212” and “Liquorice”. Azealia is set to play at the Grove, an intimate setting for lollapalooza, whereas the Postal Service will be at the large Bud Light stage to headline for their large audience of fans taking advantage of this rare opportunity. On the other hand, Azealia Banks is up and coming, which means there will be plenty of shows to come…Right? This one is a toughie! I guess it all comes down to whether or not you are willing to take the risk of missing the Postal Service. Azealia Banks’ concert will be a ton of fun, but it’s not often the Postal Service is around to perform their enchanting tunes live for an audience. Looking for five more reasons why Postal Service should remain on your radar?

Tegan & Sara (4:00-5:00, Red Bull Sound Select) vs. Two Door Cinema Club (4:30-5:30, Bud Light)

Here are two very different bands that could attract similar audiences. Tegan & Sara have that edgy, indie feel coursing through their music, whereas Two Door Cinema Club features more poppy chords in their work. You’ll have more chances to dance at Two Door Cinema Club, but a little more opportunities to sway back and forth to soothing beats at Tegan & Sara. Chances are you will have the opportunities to see both bands at some point in the future, so take some comfort in that. Overall, I think it’s safe to say that if you’re having trouble picking one or the other, you won’t end up regretting which hour-show you choose to see. See how you’re feeling the day of and go for whatever feels right.

Pheonix (Bud Light, 8:30-10pm) vs. The Cure (8-10pm, Red Bull Sound Select)

Once again, we have two enticing headliners at the same time. The Cure has been rocking hard for almost 40 years now, captivating audiences of all ages and tastes. Pheonix may not have as many years under their belt, but they’re also experienced musicians prepared to give Lollapalooza their all. For me, this decision has more risk involved. This may be one of the last chances to see The Cure and listen to the live music many of us have grown up with. Alternatively, Pheonix will be around for a bit longer, touring the world. I suppose we find ourselves in a similar situation to my first conflict—two great bands, one solidified in rock history, the other making its way to that mark—you have to see what point you’re at Sunday night. Both crowds will be big and passionate, and both bands will be ready to give remarkable performances. Do you risk not seeing The Cure and dance to Pheonix’s crazy grooves or do you make sure you were able to see The Cure at least once in your life? It’s up to you.

In terms of the big picture, you’re getting a little taste of each musician’s discography at a music festival. Seeing multiple artists in one day is pretty crazy in and of itself, so it’s not unrealistic to assume you’ll be able to see each musician in the future on an independent basis. Don’t worry if you have to miss one band for another, because the opportunity for a more intimate experience will arise again. Until then, enjoy all the opportunities Lollapalooza has to offer.

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