Lollapalooza: Aftershow Delight
While there’s no dearth of Lollapalooza preshow and aftershow festivities, it can be difficult to decide on a destination with so many choices. Here are my recommendations for making the most of your nocturnal Chicago explorations, both official and off-the-cuff. For a complete listing of Official Lollapalooza Aftershows, visit the event listings section of our Lollapalooza festival guide.
Wednesday, August 1
For paying homage to an under-heralded musical legend... Merle Haggard at the Congress Theater (2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., $30-$50, 8:00PM). Worship at the altar of the man behind such perennial classics as “Okie from Muskogee” and “Mama Tried,” one of country’s greatest living singer/songwriters.
For an energetic dose of indie rock you won’t find at Lollapalooza... Bear Hands at Schubas Tavern (3159 N. Southport, $10-$12, 9:00PM). Brooklyn’s Bear Hands play like a more focused and straightforward Animal Collective, hewing to the sonically textured indie template of contemporaries like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. with occasional forays into post-punk territory.
For a taste of things to come... Delta Spirit and FIDLAR at Lincoln Hall (2424 N. Lincoln Ave., $25, 9:00PM). Indie rock/Americana hybrid Delta Spirit absolutely crushes it live with alt-country-tinged tunes driven by propulsive bottom end polyrhythms and lead singer Matthew Vasquez's searing vocals. FIDLAR adheres pretty strictly to lo fi garage rock, brandishing fast-strumming guitar lines and brash, muddled vocals.
Thursday, August 2
For getting your hips shaking... Passion Pit, GIVERS, and Kishi Bashi at the House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn, $30, 9:00PM) American electropoppers Passion Pit specialize in ear-worming synth melodies and infectiously high-pitched vocals from frontman Michael Angelakos, guaranteed to get the blood flowing. GIVERS hails from Lafayette, Louisiana, and their brand of spirited, blissed-out indie pop takes progressive structural cues from the likes of the Dirty Projectors while also drawing on the amalgamated Zydeco influence of their hometown. Kishi Bashi, the stage name of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist K Ishibashi, performs a violin- and loop-based solo show that calls to mind the more rhymthic inclinations of Andrew Bird.
For a time-traveling jazz excursion… The Alan Gresik Swing Shift Orchestra at the Green Mill (4802 N. Broadway Ave., $6, 9:00PM). Situated uptown, the Green Mill is one of Chicago’s most historic venues, formerly co-owned by one of Al Capone’s cronies (the genesis of the oft-stated conjecture that Capone himself frequented the joint). The interior still retains the unmistakable air of a classic big band jazz club, with a long, arcing bar, swanky vinyl booths, and weathered murals still populating the premises. More importantly, the clientele is typically composed of steadfast jazz fans who aren’t afraid to ssshh you if you’re talking during a performance. The Alan Gresik Swing Shift Orchestra holds a regular Thursday night slot at the Mill, playing big band music within the framework of an old time radio broadcast.
For the best bang for your buck... Twin Shadow, Neon Indian, and Passion Pit (DJ Set) at Logan Square Auditorium (2539 N. Kedzie Blvd., free with RSVP, 9:00PM). FILTER magazine and S.O.TERIK are throwing this free official aftershow showcasing the throwback synth pop of two Lolla players, Twin Shadow and Neon Indian. Both released more honed sophomore albums in the past year, and both are sure to be playing to larger audiences by the end of 2012. Take advantage of the unbeatable price point to sneak an extended peak at them before having to battle the crowds in Grant Park. Passion Pit will DJ before heading over to the House of Blues for their own headlining aftershow.
Friday, August 3
For a Sixties throwback... Crosby, Stills & Nash at Ravinia (418 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park, $33-$80, 7:30PM). Sure, it’s a bit of a trek from the city to Ravinia’s northern ‘burbs locale, but if you’re willing to leave Lolla a bit early and endure an hour on the train, you’ll be treated to the pleasant tripartite harmonies of one of the original supergroups. There’s no Neil Young, but CS&N exude a certain unmatched musical purity when flying in their original formation.
For closing out Lolla’s first day with heady summer vibes… tUnE-yArDs and Washed Out at the House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn, $25, 11:00PM). Merrill Garbus’ tUnE-yArDs is still on her victory lap after last year’s phenomenal Whokill, which featured more honed songwriting and fleshed out her signature uke- and drum-loops with piercing horn jabs and a loping bass. Washed Out’s populist chillwave earns similarly high marks on stage, Ernest Greene’s electronic flourishes and filtered vocals pulsating danceably atop the tight punchiness of his backing band.
For engaging in throbbing kinetic freakiness… Nero (DJ Set), Die Antwoord, and Anamanaguchi at the Congress Theater (2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., $32, 9:30PM). Nero’s drum and bass-heavy DJ set will appeal to a more diehard spectrum of electronic dance fans looking for a fix. South Africa’s Die Antwoord play a type of electronic world rap akin to the heavier side of M.I.A., with unsettlingly twee vocals from rapping frontwoman Ninja. New York’s Anamanaguchi engage in frantic four-piece rock overlaid with synthesized 8-bit Nintendo melodies.
For a Nineties throwback… Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Lit, and Marcy Playground at the Allstate Arena ($39.50-$49.50, 7:00PM). It’s 1997 all over again. Need I say more?
For the heartfelt buzz junkies... Frank Ocean at Metro (3730 N. Clark St., $26, 11:00PM). This burgeoning R&B singer/songwriter has garnered bushels of praise for his recently released Channel Orange, and rightfully so. His songs evoke an enrapturing self-assured fragility and offer more range than contemporaries like Drake.
For another wallet-friendly hootenanny... Grimes, The Big Pink, and thenewno2 at Logan Square Auditorium (2539 N. Kedzie Blvd., free with RSVP, 10:00PM). The indie electro genre-hopping sextet thenewno2, which includes George Harrison’s son, Dhani, and the anthemic, widescreen noise rock of The Big Pink will both be on display in Grant Park on Friday and Sunday, respectively, but are well worth seeing at night two of FILTER and S.O.TERIK’s free Logan Square aftershow extravaganza on their own merits. However, the real treat here is Grimes, whose nocturnal dance pop and compressed, phantasmal vocals will not be gracing the stages of Lollapalooza.
Saturday, August 4
For an authentic taste of Chicago blues... Duke Tumatoe and The Power Trio with the Joanna Connor Blues Band at Kingston Mines (2548 N. Halsted St., $15, 7:30PM). The $15 price tag might seem steep but it’s worth it to while away until the wee hours of the morning at this classic venue that houses two stages to keep the blues spinning and a kitchen that churns out some pretty mean BBQ. Bonus points since admission here also gets you into B.L.U.E.S., a divier Chicago blues joint just down the street. Both these venues have live blues seven days a week, so really a visit on any night should suffice.
For the more acoustically-driven... Trampled by Turtles and The Devil Makes Three at Double Door (1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., $20, 11:00PM). Both of these acts hang their hats on country thematics and impressive bluegrass musicianship -- the former a little more uptempo and progressive, the latter a little more gothic and punk – and are the perfect antidote for those pursuing a more organic conclusion to the night after a day of Lolla’s electro-heavy lineup.
Sunday, August 5
For keeping the EDM cipher alive... Kaskade with special guest Nathan Scott at Studio Paris (59 W. Hubbard). Kaskade will keep the beats flowing at this restaurant/club long after the conclusion of Lollapalooza 2012. There’s no price or time listed on Studio Paris’ website for the event, but rest assured, with Kaskade closing out Perry’s stage earlier in the night, this will be a late night affair. Table reservations are required, so call (312) 595-0800 to make yours.
For a free caffeine fix... Of Monsters and Men, The Jezabels, and French Horn Rebellion (DJ Set) at Double Door (1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., free with RSVP, 10:00PM). Not much more can be said about Iceland’s indie folk sextet Of Monsters and Men, whose NPR-friendly sound has garnered them commercial and critical success, but Sydney alt rockers The Jezabels, fronted by the imposing Hayley Mary, have plenty to offer themselves as veterans of the Australian touring circuit. This Billboard Post Party is presented by Starbucks Refreshers, so expect plenty of free non-alcoholic-but-nevertheless-practically-caffeinated beverages to keep the weekend going for at least a few more hours.
For an alternative to more music... The Kind of Blue Comedy Series at The Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia Ave., $5, 8:00PM). This monthly comedy showcase at one of Chicago’s quaintest venues will feature performances from up-and-coming local talent like Nicholas Rouley, Rhea Butcher, and Nate Simmons. Expect to laugh and be laughed at.
Be sure to check out the rest of our Lollapalooza travel guide.