It’s that time of year once again, loyal readers — the time of year when the line-up for next year’s Argentine Lollapalooza festival is finally announced well after all the early-bird tickets have come and gone, so you hastily scan the announcement post for names you’ll recognize so you can feel justified enough in hurrying to purchase tickets at a substantially inflated price and then pray to whatever supernatural deity controls the weather that you don’t get rained out like they did last time.
Alternatively: you already purchased your early-bird tickets way before the line-up was ever announced (and before the peso depreciated by half — go you!), but now you find yourself realizing that there actually aren’t that many artists in the bill that you recognize. Where’s Jane’s Addiction? Where’s Pearl Jam? I thought this was Lollapalooza? Is the dream of the 90s not alive in Buenos Aires? Who are all these flashy millennials with funny names and complicated shoes?
Either way, we’re here to help. We took a good hard look at the line-up, going through the headliners as well as the lesser-known names toward the bottom of the bill, and came up with this list of must-see acts. Of course, any list like this will likely elicit groans, exasperated sighs, and furious comments from fans of artists who have been overlooked, so keep this in mind: this is the ignorant, largely insulated opinion of one person. One person who is quickly losing his grasp on what is hip or not. So let’s get right to it.
And if you want to listen along as we list off the selections below, here’s a handy playlist for you.
There is pretty much no way you’re not at least somewhat acquainted with Kendrick, one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful rappers of our time. Fresh off the genius one-two punch of To Pimp a Butterfly and DAMN, as well as being the first “pop” performer to win a frickin’ Pulitzer (take that, struggling jazz and classical composers!). This one’s a no-brainer. Stick around for his set. You’ll probably be talking about it for years.
One of the first big success stories of the Internet era (no, for real– they literally got famous off of MySpace, dude. Frickin’ MySpace!), Arctic Monkeys have been making thoughtful, catchy, utterly listenable indie-slash-rock-slash-pop-slash whatever music for the better part of two decades now. And though their last album was either an underwhelming bore or a misunderstood masterpiece (depending on who you ask), they have a wide-enough back catalog to keep everybody happy.
Twenty One Pilots
In its own weird way, Twenty One Pilots is one of the more unique and experimental mainstream pop acts with mass appeal, often exploring surprisingly introspective themes in their catchy pop hits. Combining elements of rock, hip-hop and electronic music, the duo has put out five full-length albums and, yes, they made that song from Suicide Squad that was literally everywhere in 2016. You know the one. Yep. That one.
Probably the only one of the headliners who wouldn’t feel completely out of place in Perry Farrell’s original Lollapalooza way back in the 90s. Lenny Kravitz, also known to some as Scarf Boy [editor’s note: nobody calls him Scarf Boy], has been playing his unique blend of old-school rockn’roll, soul music, and singalong pop hooks for a long, long time. He has also managed to defy the laws of age by looking exactly the same as he has since 1998 or so. What a handsome man.
Fresh off an airplane incident that was followed by a car crash that nearly took him from us, 23-year-old rapper and sentient can of Axe body spray Post Malone has a new lease on life. Or, I guess, two new leases on life? I don’t really know how it works when you almost die twice. Is the renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm from the first thing cancelled out by the second thing? Who knows. Anyway, come watch him do his thing, ‘cause who knows how much longer he’ll be around!
If you’re anything like me, you know Sam Smith as “the guy who made that song that sounds exactly like Tom Petty’s ‘Won’t Back Down’”, and you’re incredibly surprised that he was able to finesse that into a headliner spot at Lollapalooza. But, also, if you’re anything like me, you’re quickly becoming out of touch, so you wouldn’t know that Sam Smith has built up a pretty impressive career for himself. And with a voice like that, is it any wonder?
Dutch DJ and record producer Tiësto has also been around for a long time, pioneering various trends in electronic dance music and working with some of the biggest names in the business. If you’re up for a rave and you don’t mind the sight of thousands of Argentine dudes doing their best impression of Soy Bomb, then stick around for his set.
Saxophonist Kamasi Washington is one of the most impressive jazz artists to emerge in the last several years, quickly becoming one of the most sought-after sidemen in the business (for both jazz and popular music– he’s played with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Lauryn Hill and Flying Lotus). His 2018 album Heaven and Hell is what we call a tour de force, so be sure to check it out and have your mind blown by this prodigious talent.
Annie Clark has gone from indie-rock guitar hero darling (from her days with Sufjan Stevens and The Polyphonic Spree) to bona fide pop star with her last couple of albums. Her decidedly strange, off-kilter writing style, coupled with strong melodic hooks and pop production made MASSEDUCTION one of the best albums of 2017 (and, by the way, it also includes the aforementioned Kamasi Washington!). This lady is the real deal, folks, so make sure not to miss her.
You know that voice. There’s no way you don’t know that voice. Come on. Just hit play. If you’ve paid even just a tiny little bit of attention to Argentine music since the 90s, you’re well acquainted with Vicentico’s trademark nasal delivery. From his days as the frontman for wildly successful ska band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs to his re-emergence as a mellower solo performer who duets with Tony Bennet from time to time, Vicentico is an institution in Argentine music, and it’s always good to see him do his thing. Also, we are holding out hope that he collaborates with the aforementioned Annie Clarke to form a duet named St. Vincentico.
Few Spanish-language acts have so quickly garnered the hype and accolades that Catalan sensation Rosalía has with her sophomore album El Mal Querer. And it’s justified! The album is a stunner, combining elements of flamenco with pop, hip-hop and avant-garde (memorably, one of the songs samples both Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” and Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love Yous”). If you haven’t hopped on the El Mal Querer bandwagon, now’s your chance to do so.
We love Juana Molina. Starting out as a comedian on TV in the early nineties, she successfully jumped over to music in 1996 and has become a tremendously influential figure ever since. For 22 years now she’s been taking on the barriers of genre and musical gatekeeping head-first, crafting albums that feel fearless, unconstrained, and irresistibly listenable. So go listen!
Cordoba’s own Telescopios is a young band that has managed to carve out an identity for itself in the crowded world of Argentine indie, making music that steps out from the stereotypical “dreamy, ethereal, synth-laden” dream pop world to create something more dynamic. They have the hooks, they have the chops, and they have the look. This is the band you want to catch at the festival if you want to feel plugged-in to the independent music scene.
Uruguayan singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler has been rocking an acoustic guitar and a burrowed frow before it was in vogue to be a sensitive singer-songwriter type, and he’s even won a Grammy for it! His most recent album Salvavidas de Hielo is actually really good– way better than anything you’d expect from a guy named Jorge. Go see him! With any luck, he’ll perform his lovely finger-picked cover of Radiohead’s “High and Dry”.
Escalandrum is a celebrated group of dynamic, inventive performers who combine elements of jazz and tango to create music that is beautiful, exciting, and richly evocative. They’re celebrating their 20th year of blowing the minds of audiences around the world with their new album Studio 2, as well as a performance at Lolla. Look, what we’re saying is, if it comes down to seeing these guys or Post Malone, you know what the right choice is.
Are you into EDM? I like EDM, but asserting that one is “into EDM” calls a specific type of person to mind. And that type of person probably looks like Valentino Khan, who not only has a fantastic Bond-villain name but also sports an ironic handlebar mustache. The wildly successful DJ and producer will be hitting the Lolla stage this year to regale us all with bleepy-bloopy sounds and high-BPM youth anthems about… texting or… whatever. Look, I don’t know that much about EDM, alright?
La Mona Jimenez
And finally… La Mona Jimenez. Come on. You can’t not see La Mona Jimenez if he’s somehow playing LOLLAPALOOZA. It’s just too weird and perfect to miss. In a year where a movie about Rodrigo “El Potro” brought cuarteto music back to the popular consciousness, it actually makes complete sense for La Mona to score a slot at Argentina’s biggest music festival. And if you don’t know anything about cuarteto… just go with it. You’ll have a good time.