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On Friday, thousands will descend on Chicago’s Grant Park for the annual Lollapalooza music festival, where Eminem, Outkast, Kings of Leon, Skrillex and Lorde will be headlining over the course of three days. Beyond the marquee names, more than 130 acts, some on the cusp of breaking out, will perform across eight-plus stages. Here, a spotlight on three must-see artists.
Swedish chanteuse Lykke Li calls her third album “I Never Learn” the end of a trilogy: “A young woman finally stepping into the light, into her own skin, with all her scars and flaws.”
Li wrote the album, which was coproduced by herself, Greg Kurstin and Björn Yttling, of the Swedish band Peter Bjorn and John, after the end of a relationship. Track titles say it all: “Never Gonna Love Again,” “Heart of Steel” and “Sleeping Alone.” It is a departure from her otherwise upbeat debut, “Youth Novels,” which came out in 2008 and was hailed by critics.
Li, who in May performed at the Museum of Modern Art for an audience that included Madonna, will begin after her Friday appearance at Grant Park a 23-stop U.S. and European tour that will close in Dublin in November. The self-professed homebody loves performing live and says one of her favorite moments this year happened at a festival in Poland. “Everybody in the audience brought out a lighter to ‘Never Gonna Love Again.’ It was like singing in a sea of love,” she says.
Calvin Klein Jeans picked “Love Is to Die,” a stylish and hypnotic song from Warpaint’s latest self-titled album, for its fall 2013 campaign. For the all-women Los Angeles-based quartet, the exposure was invaluable. “It was as crazy as we thought — it brought our music to a different audience,” says drummer Stella Mozgawa, 28. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t actively seek out music. They pick out whatever frequency is in the air. It’s nice to be out in that world for a little bit as opposed to being a band that only friends share.”
The band released its second album in January, three years after its debut, “The Fool.” After performing Friday at the festival, in the enviable slot before Chvrches, they plan to tour the U.S. and Europe. Mozgawa and her band mates, singer and guitarist Emily Kokal, guitarist Theresa Wayman and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg are taking their new celebrity in stride, even if they are still sometimes compared with legendary bands, like Siouxsie and the Banshees. “If I’m at an airport, and I’m drinking a Bloody Mary and a stranger asks me about our music, I’ll say ‘it’s kind of like Pink Floyd.’ Our songs are kind of long, some of our songs are kind of different and we have long hair,” Mozgawa says. “It kind of shuts people up.”
For Courtney Barnett, taking the Lollapalooza stage on Friday will cap a touring marathon that’s been going on for almost a year — not that she’s complaining. “It’s been awesome,” says Barnett speaking from, where else, a tour bus. “It’s been cool driving around the States and the U.K. and doing our own shows. You get a lot of time when you’re on the road. A lot of time to reflect.”
Known for her folksy sound and compelling lyrics, the 26-year-old Australian, who writes all of her own music, says she appreciates the festival experience for the genuine connection with fans. “Aside from all the industry bulls–t and saying you’re playing at a big festival, it’s nice to just play to people,” she says. “Even the fact that people come to our stage and watch us is nice. It brings the meaning to the whole point of playing shows. What’s the point of touring? It’s to play to people.”
Barnett, who released “The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas” last year, has three EPs under her belt already that have struck a chord with international audiences. “I feel pretty lucky that so many people connect to so much in my songs,” she says. “Maybe people connect because they can relate it to their own lives. That’s what music is supposed to do really.”
On Friday, thousands will descend on Chicago’s Grant Park for the annual Lollapalooza music festival, where Eminem, Outkast, Kings of Leon, Skrillex and Lorde will be headlining over the course of three days. Beyond the marquee names, more than 130 acts, some just on the cusp of breaking out, will perform across eight-plus stages. Here, a spotlight on three must-see artists.