Lollapalooza turns 25: How to choose between the heavyweight headliners

Lollapalooza Photo provided by Steve Keros

Twenty five years ago, Lollapalooza first hit the road as the brainchild of Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell featuring that acclaimed alternative band alongside a diverse line-up of rockers, rappers and underground sounds. These days, it’s surely Chicago’s largest stationary festival, but also one that continues to attract global attention thanks to a mammoth line-up that boasts the likes of the rarely touring Radiohead, the legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers, the recently reconvened LCD Soundsystem, and naturally, a reprise from Jane’s Addition.

And that’s just scratching the surface of more than 170 performances spread across four marathon days in Grant Park, which also includes appearances by additional co-headliners Disclosure, Ellie Goulding, J. Cole, Lana Del Rey and Major Lazer, plus fellow notables Future, Martin Garrix, Flume, G-Easy and M83. Though the list is practically endless, here’s at least a little help looking at those battling it out in the final slots each night at the opposite ends of the field.

Thursday: J. Cole (Samsung stage) vs. Lana Del Rey (Bud Light stage)

Jay Z protégé turned huge hip-hop star in his own right J. Cole made history as the first rapper in 25 years to have a project go platinum without a single guest collaborator Although “2014 Forest Hills Drive” was released at the end of 2014, it’s still red hot and sure to be the focus of a compelling and socially conscious set.


Photo provided by Steve Keros

Right around the same time, Lana Del Rey is destined to deliver her love it or loathe it brand of baroque pop and cinematic craftsmanship. Her often times jazzy delivery is definitely an acquired taste, but has nonetheless made her the most streamed American female artist on Spotify, thanks in part to super hits “Summertime Sadness” and “Video Games.”

Friday: Radiohead (Samsung stage) vs. Major Lazer (Bud Light stage)

Radiohead lovers are sure to rejoice, not only because of the band’s long-awaited return to Lollapalooza, but also because Thom Yorke and company come bearing the new album “A Moon Shaped Pool.” Aside from hearing the experimental rockers’ first offerings in five years, bank on all the atmospheric staples and some of its most striking visual accompaniment to date.

Those looking for more of a musical mash-up between EDM, reggae, dancehall and house have Major Lazer as another option, who first leaped onto the electronic scene with “Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do” in 2009. Expect a career-spanning show also comprising tunes from such topically-charged projects as last year’s “Peace Is The Mission” and the forthcoming “Music Is The Weapon.”

Saturday: Red Hot Chili Peppers (Samsung stage) vs. Disclosure (Bud Light stage)

Funky alt-rockers and sometimes metal men the Red Hot Chili Peppers are also making a welcome return to the festival, this time in support of insanely infectious “The Getaway” (also its first in five years). Out of the entire line-up, Anthony Kiedis and company are hands down the guys with the most hits, so get ready to sing loud and proud to “Under The Bridge,” “Give It Away,” “Scar Tissue,” “Californication” and many more.


Photo by Andy Argyrakis

Even though they’re slotted opposite some serious veterans, Disclosure is poised for just as long of a career, whether it winds in the direction of EDM, house, synthpop or a little bit of all the above. In addition to a series of solo compositions, the duo’s delivered smash collaborations with Sam Smith, Lorde and Eliza Doolittle (to name but a few).

Sunday: LCD Soundsystem (Samsung stage) vs. Ellie Goulding (Bud Light stage)

Technically speaking, James Murphy put LCD Soundstystem to bed in 2011, but even with the bluff, anyone who’s ever appreciated the electronic rockers is surely stoked for this reboot. New tunes are currently in the works, but in the meantime, there’s more than a decade’s worth of rhythmic memories to revisit.

Ever since she burst out of England with the instantly contagious single “Lights” in 2011, Ellie Goulding has steadily ascended to the top of the indie pop/folktronica pack. Follow-ups such as “Anything Could Happen,” “Burn” and “Love Me Like You Do” are equally vibrant and sure to spark perhaps the largest sea of screams and cell phone lights of the entire anniversary weekend.

Lollapalooza takes place at Grant Park from Thursday, July 28 through Sunday, July 31. For additional details, visit