This year’s Lollapalooza saw some harsh conditions, from the fist fight in Friday’s Eminem crowd, to the pushing and shoving of Outkast’s Saturday set, to the six separate rains that spotted Skrillex’s Sunday. But Pop ‘stache has braved the elements to bring you the best of Lolla 2014’s lesser-known acts.
6. Francisca Valenzuela
Lollapalooza’s Grant Park location has made the festival a sunny affair for 10 years now, and Chilean pop singer Francisca Valenzuela’s upbeat Spanish tunes opened Lolla ’14 with appropriate sunniness on Friday. Born in San Francisco, Valenzuela moved to Chile at age 12, and this cultural juxtaposition makes for great music. Playing everything from American radio rock to piano ballads to ’80s punk, Valenzuela spent her 45-minute set fist pumping, dancing with a yellow tambourine, and turning her head to the sky. Her first two albums (2007’s Muerdete La Lengua and 2011’s Buen Soldado) are both in Spanish, but Valenzuela revealed an upcoming third album to be released in September, which will embrace new American fans with English lyrics.
5. Run The Jewels
“Shout out to the photographer who thought I was Big Boi!” laughed Killer Mike, frequent Outkast collaborator and one half of hip-hop duo Run the Jewels. He and fellow rapper El-P played to a responsive but perplexed crowd on Sunday afternoon. When El-P asked the audience, “How many listen to rap music like Killer Mike?” only a few cheered. However, the show was saved by the duo’s positive attitude, its excited stage presence, and an accepting crowd. Following up on its 2013 self-titled debut, Run the Jewels plans to release Run The Jewels 2 later this year.
The rustling of leaves and the soft hum of insects faded into Chicago’s lakeshore on Saturday afternoon, ushering in the just-now-emerging band Jungle. Built around the friendship of childhood neighbors Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, Jungle was formed in 2013, and its self-titled debut, released earlier this year on XL Recordings, blends ’70s funk influence with electro-pop and indie rock. Jungle’s live show added organ sounds, loop pedal harmonizations, and crystal clear falsetto vocals. The fresh-faced indie band, which grinned wildly when the audience began clapping along, quickly won over a crowd of hip-hop fans with summery singles like “Busy Earnin’” and “Time.”
“Epic. Awesome. Music.” was the tagline for Lollapalooza’s Palladia Stage, and alt-rock band Kongos proved the hyperbolic slogan true when it opened the stage on Sunday afternoon. Riding high on Epic Records’ wide release of their 2012 LP Lunatic, the four brothers (Dylan, Daniel, Jesse, and Johnny Kongos) capped off their six-month tour with a raging Lolla set. The band was electrifying throughout, rumbling through the wickedly catchy single “I’m Only Joking,” calling up rapper Mo Gordon for a live mashup of Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” and The Beatles’ “Come Together,” and closing with their WWE-purchased single “Come With Me Now.” For non-paloozans and others unlucky enough to miss the fantastic festival show, Kongos will return to Chicago to play at the Metro on Sept. 20.
2. Delta Rae
“We’re Delta Rae from North Carolina and we are so fucking excited to be here today!” exclaimed singer Ian Hijoles. And they clearly were. Centered around siblings Ian, Eric, and Brittany Hojiles, the humble folk rock ensemble earned itself a new group of fans during its hour in Grant Park, playing mostly tracks from its 2012 Sire Records debut Carry the Fire (along with a few tracks from upcoming LP Chasing Twisters). Lolla’s Palladia stage had seen on-and-off rain all day, but Delta Rae brought the sun with its beautiful harmonies and hopeful lyrics, such as, “Jealous is the night when the morning comes.” Wrapping up a two-and-a-half month tour, which included playing to American troops overseas, Delta Rae closed its set with the anthemic “Dance In the Graveyards” to tumultuous applause.
Remaining unknown to the world at large, California-based reggae rock band Rebelution has been touring and recording excellent albums since 2007. Its latest LP Count Me In continues the life-loving, feel-good vibes of Courage To Grow (2007), Bright Side of Life (2009), and Peace of Mind (2012). Rebelution’s accessible songwriting and professional-level technicality put it far above the rest, and its bright atmosphere even coaxed the sun out of its rainy Sunday hideout. The band began its explosive hour at Lollapalooza 2014 with the punchy, horn-driven “Sky Is The Limit,” and didn’t let up once, leaving no more than a second between songs until closing its set with “Bright Side of Life,” which ironically heralded a total downpour.
Photo by Kristan Lieb