Lollapalooza 2016: Insider Tips on Major Lazer, Radiohead, J Cole, and the Parties in Chicago

The 25th Anniversary of music festival in the Windy City is supersized to four days

Last Updated: July 28, 2016 @ 2:10 PM

Lollapalooza begins this Thursday in Chicago, Illinois, with four days of music led by evergreen rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead, 21st Century staples LCD Soundsystem and M83, crossover hitmakers like Ellie Goulding and Lana Del Rey, a slew of hip-hoppers led by J. Cole, Future and ASAP Ferg, along with white hot, cross-genre diamond cutters, Major Lazer.

Phew! With that kind of lineup, where do start?

The 25th anniversary of the festival, which was initially launched as a traveling alt-rock tour in 1991, takes over Grant Park, which is hooked directly into the urban grid of downtown Chicago.

Perry Farrell Lolla Dobel Tequila

Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell in the Maestro Dobel Tequila piano lounge, another Farrell enterprise.

The temperatures are expected to be in the low 80’s and despite the recent summer storms, the only rumblings so far have come from founder Perry Farrell, who already vowed that he “wants to vomit [EDM] out of [his] nostrils,” in a pre-festival sit-down with the Chicago Tribune.

To avoid discordant discharge — musical or otherwise — here are TheWrap’s top tips for Lollapalooza 2016.

1. Lolla is supersized to 4 days.

Winners making the most of golden hour with the GS 6's wide angle selfie lens. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

When Coachella expanded to three days — adding Friday to the original Saturday and Sunday schedule in 2007 — it was a bit of a black swan moment. But 10 years later, this is the default template for all major U.S. festivals including Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra, Outside Lands, and the end-of-season Austin City Limits.

For their 25th anniversary, Lolla added a weekday prefix.

“We thought about what a special day Thursday has become,” Farrell said in a statement. “When the party can’t wait for the weekend, the movers and shakers make it happen on Thursday!”

Speaking of movers and shakers …

2. Top surprising guest alert: The Chicago All-Stars?

INDIO, CA - APRIL 29: (L-R) Sam Hunt, Snoop Dogg, Bebe Rexha and G-Eazy pose for a photo backstage at Stagecoach 2016 after their Bud Light Music Stage Moment at The Empire Polo Club on April 29, 2016 in Indio, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch)

Strange Brew: Sam Hunt, Snoop Dogg, Bebe Rexha and G-Eazy at Stagecoach 2016. (Getty Images)

Keep an eye on Chicago natives Flosstradamus’ closing set on the Perry’s stage on Thursday night.

After Bud Light snuck Snoop Dogg in to crash the Stagecoach country music festival with golden boy Sam Hunt in April, TheWrap has learned that Flosstradamus and the blue-can brew are drafting another exotic collaboration for Lollapalooza featuring superstar Chicago personalities. The names floating around come from beyond music, angling to make this surprise-party-within-a-party a buzzy “Stage Moment” for the city and the festival on opening night.

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 19: Big Boi and Phantogram perform on stage as part of the "The Roots Jam Session" during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Bud Light Factory on March 19, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Dustin Finkelstein/Getty Images for SXSW)

Phantogram (left) and Big Boi (right) at SXSW in March (Getty Images)

3. Least surprising “surprise”: Chart-topping singer MØ will sing “Cold Water” and “Lean On” with Major Lazer

INDIO, CA - APRIL 17: (L-R) Musicians Walshy Fire of Major Lazer, Jillionaire of Major Lazer, MØ, DJ Snake and Diplo of Major Lazer perform onstage during day 3 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Club on April 17, 2016 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Expect to see “Lean On” and “Cold Water” (Getty Images)

The artists behind last summer’s global smash “Lean On,” Major Lazer and singer MØ, perform separate sets on Friday.

They are back at No. 1 on Spotify’s Global Top 50 with “Cold Water,” a track featuring Justin Bieber released just last Friday. Call a Chicago bookie and place this bet: MØ joining Major Lazer for the hit parade is a lock. Bieber joining in would grab all the festival headlines.

4. Is this the same lineup as every other festival this summer?

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 26: Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs at Madison Square Garden on July 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Thom Yorke of Radiohead (Getty Images)

Yes … and no.

On the one hand, Radiohead just played their first U.S. show in four years this week, so their appearance is a rarity.

On the other hand, LCD Soundsystem has been on most major festival bills since reemerging at Coachella in April.

Big name straddlers include Haim (who have been both headlining and playing festivals this summer) and J.Cole, who arrives in Chicago after playing Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Bonnaroo in Tennesee.

5. Is Jane’s Addiction frontman and Lollapalooza founder Farrell excited for the big name DJ’s?

No, in a word.

“I hate EDM. I want to vomit it out of my nostrils,” Farrell told the Chicago Tribune last week. “I can’t stand what it did to what I love, which is house music, which was meditative, psychedelic — it took you on a journey … I sometimes cringe at my own festival.”

Perry's Stage Daytime DJ Mustard Graphics

With a whiff of Greek tragedy, the DJ stage (above) is named Perry’s.

6. Catch major festival acts playing a second show at official after parties across Chicago.

Lollapalooza 2016 After Parties Official

Historically, the sharpest contrast between Lollapalooza and other festival experiences is the proximity to post-festival nightcaps. Most festivals are night-killers — spitting out exhausted, dehydrated and Uber-less refugees into a rural wilderness.

With an urban festival ending conservatively at 10 p.m., there have traditionally been a slew of invite-only bashes featuring random acts like Salt-N-Pepa, rockstars slumming it for extra cash with DJ sets, and a thin corps of stray celebrities sipping on sponsored vodka within a few minutes walk of the festival grounds.

Now, Lollapalooza is producing 72 of its own top-tier after-parties at venues across the city, swallowing the private party shoulder economy whole.

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 01: Guests enjoy the Metallica performance from the Samsung Galaxy Owner's Lounge during Lollapalooza 2015 at Grant Park on August 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Samsung)

(Getty Images for Samsung)

It’s not the nobodies performing, either.

Festival mainstagers will play encores (two nights each with Jane’s Addiction and LCD Soundsystem), shows by second stage cult acts (Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, The Arcs), and even throwbacks Third Eye Blind will double up with an official club gig at Park West on Saturday night.

“We’re excited to treat the artists in town and the people visiting,” Mary McKeen, talent buyer for Chicago’s Vegas-style nightclub Studio Paris told TheWrap this week. “It’s important that our guests, and artist alike, have a good time, and we’re excited to be the people that host some of it.”

Kaskade played a second show in his hometown Friday night, drawing a massive linen to Studio Paris. (Tyler Curti/ABImages)

Kaskade at Studio Paris in 2015 (ABImages)

Studio Paris throws an official after-party with Diplo on Friday and hosts TheWrap’s pick for choice club outing, the sneaky Sunday night post-festival dessert with Questlove.

7. Where does Hollywood hide out in Chicago? (Read: the non-public events)

Jon Batiste and Stay Human at Soho House Chicago's Opening festivities last summer. (Jeff Schear/Getty Images for Soho House Chicago)

Stephen Colbert’s band Jon Batiste & Stay Human at Soho House Chicago (Getty Images for Soho House Chicago)

Soho House, which opened during Lollapalooza two years ago, is perennially stuffed with performing talent and private events.

Nylon — who just had “Game of Thrones” actor Kristian Nairn DJ their Comic-Con bash — throws a party with the dFm and Stillhouse Whiskey at the hip Virgin Hotel on Thursday night. Festival regulars BMF and the Hard Rock Hotel follow up by hosting the “Oasis” with music by British female DJ Kayper and Lindsay Luv on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

Meanwhile, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting rooftop drinks at the Renaissance Chicago overlooking the river on Saturday afternoon for some out-of-town VIPs.

8. Seek higher ground in Grant Park

A$AP Rocky Surprise Performance Lolla Saumsung

A$AP Rocky at the Samsung Galaxy Lounge (Tasos Katopodis)

While VIPs get open bars and complimentary food, the elevated viewing lounges have the best lines of sight. As in past years, Samsung will be playing fairy godmother to upgrade select Galaxy owners on the grounds with access to their separate Galaxy Lounge overlooking the stage where Big Grams, Halsey and Flume will play.

In addition to artist drop-ins, they will be revealing a 360-degree virtual reality camera aimed at consumers (the Gear 360) that will not be released until later this year, except for the chosen guests who can purchase it on the spot at the festival.

We hear it’s perfect for capturing a music icon vomiting EDM out of his nostrils.