The AU's 7 favourite performances and discoveries from Lollapalooza Chicago 2015

With what must have been hundreds of performances over three days on more than eight stages, Chicago’s iconic Lollapalooza festival has its fair share of eclectism and choice for all attendees. And alongside the big names – from Paul McCartney to Metallica – there are plenty of unknowns too. Emerging local, national and international artists who the festival wants to give you the chance to discover. Our following feature runs through a couple of our own favourite discoveries at the festival, alongside our favourite performances from the bands we already know.

In alphabetical order, they are:

Delta Spirit at SXSW, photo by Johnny Au.

Delta Spirit

Hailing from Brooklyn, this five piece have a strong list of infectious indie rock, Americana infused tracks all imbued with that much lauded Delta Spirit charm. But what pushed these guys onto our list of favourite acts was their insanely exciting live show which saw lead singer Matthew Vasquez enter the crowd twice across the set. Bring in the fact that they did a rocking cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” in honour of McCartney, and you have a very cool Lollapalooza band indeed.

George Ezra

In spite of a broken up set thanks to the festival evacuation, the UK rising star (who was one of the festival’s few acts to perform solo), delivered one of the weekend’s most memorable performances. Commanding tens of thousands in the crowd solely with his voice and a guitar (and in the case of “Did You Hear The Rain?” he didn’t even use the guitar), Ezra proved that sometimes the songs are enough, even for a major festival like this.

Photo Credit: Maya Rafie

Kyle Thornton and The Company (*Discovery*)

With a stunning voice and an incredible backing band, including a three piece brass ensemble, Kyle Thornton and The Company left a lasting impression on us. The Boston based eight piece brought a soulful, almost New Orleans take on tracks like Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team” and “Just The Two Of Us” amongst original material, knowing how to work the crowd every step of the way. An outfit worth keeping your eye on.

Paul McCartney

It has been a lifelong dream to witness the ex-Beatle in action, and his nostalgic set, filled almost entirely with Beatles and Wings classics, did not disappoint. It was an emotional roller coaster ride for the tens of thousands who packed the Samsung Galaxy stage to experience a night with the living legend. These are songs we’ve all grown up with, and accompanied by an incredible band, a huge firework display during “Live and Let Die” (naturally) and enough material to ensure everyone saw some of their favourites, it was a true joy to experience. A night I’ll never forget. You can read more about McCartney’s set HERE.

St Paul and the Broken Bones at SXSW, photo by Larry Heath

St Paul and the Broken Bones

Frontman Paul Janeway is a natural born performer with one of the most soulful and extraordinarily powerful voices that I have have experienced live. Working strong instrumentation into the mix (including some sweet brass), Alabama’s St Paul and the Broken Bones have a truly raw, emotional sound that is incredibly rare and special in today’s pop and rock filled market. Blending soul, gospel and rock, these guys really do stand out as one of the most exciting acts around.

Tame Impala

The Aussie psych icons were given a primetime, main stage spot, not long before Metallica hit the stage, and did not disappoint. Their new record Currents has even phenomenally received, and it showed in the reception of the new tracks. But, naturally, it was the old favourites that had everyone singing along.

Wild Belle

The Chicago based brother/sister duo (backed by a five piece) sure did do a good job of bringing that southern charm (with a good measure of rock and funk) up to Chicago for Lolla. Standing apart for Natalie Bergman’s husky, soulful vocals and somewhat dark, stormy yet very catchy tunes – get ready to be mesmerised by Wild Belle’s sound, as they teased us with tracks from their forthcoming album. Look out for the track “Mississippi River” off the record, it has “hit” written all over it. Add in the fact that they have recorded the track “Be Together” with Major Lazer and you have yourself an exciting, playful act.

Zebra Katz (*Discovery*)

To be filed under the niche “queer hip hop” category, New York artist Zebra Katz – the alter ego of Ojay Morgan – is an artist impossible to forget. Dressed all in white – with a jewel encrusted eye patch to boot – Morgan looked like someone out of a fabulous post apocalyptic universe. Mad Max without all that dust. Chris Tucker from The Fifth Element without the… No, that’s probably a good enough comparison. But this is no token act – Katz can rhyme, and his DJ’s unique beats, which often mixed in the likes of “It’s My Party (and I’ll Cry if I want to)”, made his performance a blast. The man can perform, he can rap and he can make some really entertaining music. Zebra Katz is from another planet and we want to go to there.

Of course this list barely scratches the surface. Metallica put on one hell of a show, piled with fan favourites. Florence and the Machine were stunning – in spite of having to deliver a reduced set. Hot Chip and Django Django were a blast, Zella Day and Elle King were enigmatic and delightful and Twenty One Pilots showed why they are one of the biggest bands in America today, delivering one of the most energetic sets of the whole weekend. What a fun time we had across all three days.

For more of our Lollapalooza coverage, including reviews, galleries and interviews, visit our HUB.

Article by Larry Heath and Lucy Inglis. Live shots from Lollapalooza by Daniel Boczarski.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.