Lollapallooza 2015 is this weekend and your correspondent will be there on behalf of Music Times, checking out the lineup, which includes headliners Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence + The Machine, The Weeknd, Sam Smith and more. Granted, such a huge schedule inevitably leads to scheduling conflicts, which we're almost convinced promoters have rigged as to drive us nuts. If you're still debating who you'll be seeing this weekend, let Music Times talk you through this with out guide to the biggest conflicts of the weekend.
Paul McCartney vs. The Weeknd vs. Flying Lotus
Lollapalooza's lineup is especially deviant in the way that it pits four acts against each other during the last stand every night. Nowhere is this more evident than on the festival's first night, where Flying Lotus and The Weeknd must go against Paul McCartney, essentially the biggest living act in the world. And frankly, we feel and for them. The Weeknd vs. Flying Lotus would have been a challenging enough decision on its own. However, there's not much of an excuse to skip McCartney's set. It's more than two hours for a reason...there's an endless number of hits for him to choose from, including his Beatles credits. We have all the faith in the world that both The Weeknd and Flying Lotus will continue touring hard for years to come, and you can catch them then. Who knows how long McCartney can keep this up? Take advantage while you can. Need further reason to see Sir Paul? How about a Kanye West guest appearance? All the signs add up: The pair have collaborated on several songs this year, West isn't touring at the moment and the concert is in his hometown. We predicted Rihanna would guest with Eminem last year (before their joint tour was announced) and we were right. Double or nothing.
OUR PICK: Paul McCartney
Gary Clark Jr. vs. Alt-J vs. Young Thug
This is more of a two team battle then the three we presented it as: Rock vs. Hip-Hop. First, decide which guitar-based act suits you better. We highly suggest Clark over alt-J, especially in a festival setting. The weather's beautiful, there's a crowd of thousands in front of them...which act do you think is going to give a performance that differentiates from what you've already heard on the record? When given a choice in a live setting, we tend to opt for the dude with the blues backgrounds, because a talent for improvisation and off-the-cuff instrumentals takes priority. That argument extends to debating between Clark and Young Thug as well. The rapper can expect a big crowd, especially from the buzz surrounding his alleged role in the attempted murder of Lil Wayne. But we're a bit nervous after Rich Homie Quan laid an egg in this role last year...can Thug prove himself to be more than just a flash-in-the-pan? Quan couldn't, but we hope Thug does otherwise. We're still going with the safer option however.
OUR PICK: Gary Clark Jr.
Alabama Shakes vs. DJ Snake vs. Alabama Shakes
The toughest of the debates at this year's festival, hands-down. On one hand, you've got two bands that rock like few others on the scene, the War on Drugs and Alabama Shakes. The former's Adam Granduciel translates his epic Lost In The Dream to the live stage, and the latter's frontwoman Brittany Howard can wail soulfully as if it's the first time, every time. On the other hand, you've got DJ Snake, the current figurehead of the trap movement, who can offer a far more exciting live set than any of the house DJs on this year's lineup (note how Kaskade wasn't even part of the debate in our first entry). We're ruling him out here, but not without regret. Our logic: Lil Jon won't be here to help on "Turn Down For What," and Snake's buddy Dillon Francis will be taking the Perry's stage right after him. That all but guarantees the pair will team up for a live version of Francis' smash "Get Low," so you're better off heading to that stage after you choose between the rockers during this time slot. It's a toss up, but we're going with The War on Drugs, based on the strength of Lost In The Dream alone. You're forgiven for picking Alabama Shakes.
OUR PICK: The War On Drugs
Metallica vs. Sam Smith
Look, this one isn't that tough, as odds are the Venn diagram of Sam Smith fans and Metallica fans doesn't have a very big middle section. If you're interested in both, we suggest Metallica, simply put. One, that band is far less likely to show up at other festivals from here on out, due to a relative lack of interest in metal at such events. Secondly, the band puts on a loaded show, worth seeing at least once. Finally, Smith doesn't have enough in his catalogue to hold down this spot. Last year Lorde was in a similar position, holding down a huge slot based on popularity alone. She rocked it, but she only had so many songs to play and was done 15 minutes early. Smith could be, and we hope he is, great onstage, but how is he supposed to fill an hour-fifteen? Here's a solid plan for those hellbent on seeing Smith however: Metallica's set starts 45 minutes before his, and the band almost always opens with "Creeping Death," one of the coolest live songs ever, as the bridge incorporates the audience in a most creepy/cultish way. Check that out, then work your way on over for Smith.
OUR PICK: Metallica
Sturgill Simpson vs. Charli XCX
Again, odds are you're going to know which way you want to go here. The bombastic, outspoken young pop star, or the not-actually-old-but-still-weathered country performer. Charli definitely has more of a festival vibe about her, that's for sure. Just remember that you'll be surrounded by audacious musicians all weekend, and the chance to check out a more toned-down performer is going to be rare, especially on Saturday. Also remember that XCX isn't going to perform the hook from "Fancy" by itself; you needed to be here last year for Iggy Azalea to see that. Of course, as she wrote Icona Pop's hit "I Love It," that could be on the table. We suggest taking a break from the heat, grabbing a bite for lunch, and letting Simpson put you at ease for a moment.
OUR PICK: Sturgill Simpson
Florence + The Machine vs. Bassnectar
It's as if Perry Farrell and the Lollapalooza were working in Florence Welch's favor. While both McCartney and Metallica (the other primary headliners) have to go up against sincerely talented performers, The Machine faces off against three DJ acts, two of which specialize in dubstep. Kygo deserves some respite from our criticisms—his deep house/downtempo fare is worth considering at an EDM festival—but is Bassnectar still worth the price of admission? No, nor was he in 2012 when faced against Black Sabbath, the Black Keys and Wale. NERO is at least fresher blood, but not clever enough to match up with fellow Brit Welch. Last year Lollapalooza chose EDM headliners that were at least worth consideration considering their relevance to the scene—Calvin Harris and Skrillex—but Bassnectar doesn't fit that definition. Just go see Florence.
OUR PICK: Florence + The Machine
TV on The Radio vs. FKA twigs
We sincerely feel bad for TV on The Radio because the band has been trying to grab our attention at festivals for years. The last opportunity your correspondent had was at Governors Ball 2014, when the group was faced off against Grimes, who was performing her first show in a while...and we weren't sure when she would be back. We didn't regret it, but it pains us more this year. If the choice were, as the title suggests, simply TV on The Radio vs. FKA twigs, we would side with TV in an instant. The problem: TV's set not only intersects with twigs'...it also intersects with A$AP Rocky's on the other end of Grant Park. So the choice comes down to A$AP and FKA vs. TV on The Radio. We're sorry guys, but we can't sacrifice two for the price of one, even if it is a really solid "one."
OUR PICK: FKA twigs AND A$AP Rocky