Lollapalooza 2022 picks: 10 acts to see at the Grant Park festival
Superstar headliners including Dua Lipa, Machine Gun Kelly, Caroline Polachek, Green Day and Tomorrow X Together are surefire favorites at this year’s Lolla. Check out our field of favorites in addition to all the rest.
It’s July in Chicago, which means all ears are tuned to one thing: Lollapalooza.
This year marks the 16th edition of the event in the city, and organizers have gone all-out with an eclectic mix of talent — from chart-topping pop stars to hip-hop breakouts and hardcore and thrash metal stalwarts.
Here’s our top 10 acts to see — in addition to the rest of the must-see headliners. Insider tip: Make sure to take in the BMI Stage for the biggest up-and-comers (it’s where Lady Gaga and Halsey got their start), and head to the Kidzapalooza Stage every day at 4 p.m. for the “unannounced” special guest.
When: July 28-31
Where: Grant Park
Tickets: Starting at $125 for single day tickets; $350 for 4-day passes
Lolla bookers have consciously diversified the annual music lineup ever since the festival took root in Chicago 16 years ago and evolved it from its early roots as a touring rock festival. One great example of their out-of-the-box standouts is this beloved bluegrass prodigy. Billy Strings — an apropos stage name for the dexterity he brings to multiple instruments — began his career when he was just a teenager, racking up accolades from Rolling Stone to Newport Folk Fest for his command of the Americana style while also funneling it through his own rock lens on tracks like “Dust in a Baggie.” (6:15 p.m. Thursday, T-Mobile Stage)
Normally Perry’s Stage is the go-to gathering spot for Lolla’s EDM programming, but DJ and producer Dani Thorne levels up with a rare primetime spot at the Tito’s Stage — and she’ll need every inch for her nonstop “House Party,” bringing a rave-worthy set that is as colorful and dynamic as her trademark rainbow-colored hair. The sister of actress Bella Thorne, Com3t has found her own niche as a performer, adding a sinister flair on tracks like “Metamorphosis” for a cinematic sheen that elevates beyond often static dance music. (8 p.m. Thursday, Tito’s Stage)
Any of the 1,000 people that were lucky enough to get entrance into Metallica’s exclusive club date at Metro last fall can tell you the explosive thrash titans can still “Kill ’Em All” nearly 40 years after their debut was released. That album became an early standard for the metal class and, in recent dates, the quartet has been sticking to a good chunk of the material including “Whiplash” and “Seek & Destroy.” Expect a similar classic set for Lolla’s opening night headliners and stick around for up-and-comers Taipei Houston on Friday — two of the members are drummer Lars Ulrich’s sons, so a guest appearance is never off the table. (8:15 p.m. Thursday, T-Mobile Stage)
Going to a festival only for the headliners is a missed chance to see some of the brightest stars of today and tomorrow, and one great example is Friday’s first act on the Coinbase Stage. Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea is a powerful voice and vehement rule breaker who has classified her unique style as femmeton, or feminist reggaeton. Though on songs like the eclectic, horn-driven “Algo Nuevo” (meaning “something new,” a perfect term for her work), La Doña also mixes in style high points such as rhythmic Latin American and Mexican grooves like those she grew up with playing in a family mariachi band as well as the hip-hop she became immersed in later. She starts off an impressive day of female-led acts, culminating with the headliner Dua Lipa. (Noon Friday, Coinbase Stage)
Who knew two people could make so much noise? This U.K. duo, comprised of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, has been creating a ruckus ever since launching their coy single “Chaise Lounge” in the pandemic slag of 2021 and then bulldozing their way through the modern music pantheon to become a critic’s darling in just over a year. Their debut, released in April, has already been heralded as one of the best of the year thus far — and for good reason. Their mix of slinky Britpop with post-punk fury — coupled with some DGAF lyrics — calls to mind a smattering of riot grrl subversiveness with pop magnetism and rock’s cool swagger. (2:50 p.m. Friday, Discord Stage)
There are some really heavy hitters on the lineup this year — and not just mainstream metal giants like Metallica but also cuff bands like on-the-rise deathcore agents Lorna Shore (see them headline the BMI Stage Thursday) and one of the “best of 2021” acts, Turnstile. Hailing from Baltimore, the hardcore quintet has been making solid inroads since 2010, but last year’s album “Glow On” was a major glow-up that got the act the attention it deserves for a curated style that brings plenty of aggression but also some beautiful melody too. Judging by Turnstile’s loaded performances at Lolla’s South American festivals earlier this year, this set will be the one to let it all out. (7:45 p.m. Saturday, Discord Stage)
Saturday’s main stage headliners — DJ Kygo and rapper J. Cole — leave a bit to be desired compared to the rest of the weekend. Instead head to the Discord Stage to catch Willow, who has come a ways from her “Whip My Hair” days in 2011, when the pre-teen daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith made her entrance as a musical artist. Fast forward to today, and her latest album, 2021’s “Lately I Feel Everything,” sees her experimenting with pop punk, indie and alt rock with the help of some special guests Travis Barker and Avril Lavigne, among others. It’s not clear on who might be backing her, but last year Willow reunited her mom’s old nu metal act Wicked Wisdom, so anything goes. (9:15 p.m. Saturday, Discord Stage)
The international songwriting competition Eurovision sometimes really gets it right, as in the case of ABBA, Celine Dion and now Måneskin, who took home the gold in 2021 and have exploded into the States ever since. The Italian glam rock/pop act (with the very Danish moniker) oozes with unparalleled charm, vintage revivalism, smoldering grit and fashion flair (including enough eyeliner to give Alice Cooper a run for his makeup game) that make them a true spectacle on the level of Bowie, the Stones and early Elton. Their sound on songs like “Beggin’,” though, is fresh and pulsating with modern production, the perfect sum of all parts to make them the next big thing. (4:15 p.m. Sunday, T-Mobile Stage)
Porno For Pyros
When Lollapalooza had to do a COVID detour in 2020 and went virtual in a massive last-minute feat, one of the big surprises in the talent pool was a reunification of funk-punk weirdos Porno for Pyros, Lolla founder Perry Farrell’s band that formed out of the ashes of Jane’s Addiction in the ’90s. The abbreviated set had many fans clamoring for a full-on relaunch, and the time is ripe for it in 2022. With Jane’s once again sidelined reportedly due to Dave Navarro’s long-haul COVID, forcing the band to cancel this year’s appearances, Porno for Pyros has stepped in, prepping groovy alt-rock gems like “Pets” and “Tahitian Moon.” The band also plays an official afterparty at Metro Saturday. (6:15 p.m. Sunday, T-Mobile Stage)
In one of most impressive last-minute switch-ups to cover for Doja Cat’s cancelation, Lolla organizers were able to book BTS’ J-Hope for his performance debut to close out the final night of the festival. Variety also reports the appearance will also be historic as he will be the first South Korean artist to headline a U.S. fest of this magnitude. As rumors of BTS’ breakup swirl (the act announced a hiatus in June), this set will be the next best thing. The huge rise of K-Pop will also be seen in the addition of Tomorrow x Together on Saturday, also making their debut at a Stateside fest. Green Day starts 45 minutes before so catch some of their set and then head across the park, if you still have energy at that point. (9 p.m. Sunday, Bud Light Seltzer Stage)