5 Can’t Miss Sets for Indie Rock Fans Going to Lollapalooza 2023

“Is this another Yog article saving me from doing research on what indie rock bands to see at a festival? OMG, this time he is doing 5 recommendations instead of 4!? This must be a stacked lineup for indie rock fans.” – you, probably

You bet your bottom dollar it is! I haven’t been to Lolla since 2019 — this lineup has me very tempted to send a last-minute trip to the Chi. The windy city is an elite summer destination. Your high school algebra teacher probably skipped over the following equation, but I’m here to remind you that:

Warm weather + indie rock = the truth.

Yog’s absolute favorite band

The Happy Fits

Sunday, 1:45-2:30 | Coinbase

I could write a 10-pager on The Happy Fits, what makes them special, and why I think they are the greatest thing to happen to indie rock since sliced bread/Betty White — but that’s not the purpose of this article, so I’ll spare you the long-winded details (at least for the time being!) Just know that I’m a day one fan, am in their top .001% of listeners on Spotify (several times over), have seen them perform live four times, and my name is in every vinyl print of their album “What Could Be Better” as a donor (shoutout to my sister for this birthday gift).

The 3-piece group hailing from New Jersey comes with a twist— front man Calvin Langman shreds the electric cello. Yes, it’s an indie rock band where the lead instrument typically belongs in an orchestra setting. Sewn together with catchy melodies, their music makes me laugh, cry, stomp, smile and everything in between — my emotions run the gamut. I hope you’ve got your dancing shoes ready, their live sets are electric and are the perfect match for Chicago’s summer weather.

Most Streamed Track:

So Alright, Cool, Whatever

Yog’s Track Rec(s):

Hold Me Down

Around and Around

Grow Back

Dirt Imbecile

Oops, I gave a song rec from their EP and every album. My bad!

Yog’s Top Pick to See

Ax and the Hatchetmen

Thursday, 2:50-3:30 | BacardÍ

While The Happy Fits are my favorite band, my pick to see at Lollapalooza is Chicago-based, Ax and the Hatchetmen. I just caught their Mercury Lounge set in NYC and all I can say is, WOW. I was near certain that they would blow the roof off the venue during their encore cover of infamous song, Twist and Shout. The stage presence and energy brought by the (seemingly) very young, 7-piece group is something that musicians take years to cultivate and master. I wanted to write that front man Axel Ellis is someone to keep an eye on as the next up-and-coming rockstar, but that’d be a disservice to him. Truth be told, he commands the stage like a veteran and already performs like a star, just waiting to get his big break on a larger scale.

This is my top recommended band to see so that you can pull a “I saw them before they really blew up” Yog moment. Heck, they don’t even have a proper EP or full-length album yet! Now’s your time to see them live. Don’t say I’m not looking out for y’all!

Most Streamed Track:

Peach Trees

Yog’s Track Rec:

Beezlebub

Declan McKenna

Friday, 6:30-7:15 | BacardÍ

Originally uncovered some time ago on my Discover Weekly (thanks Spotify algorithm!) Declan McKenna is a critically-acclaimed musician from across the pond. The 24 y/o English singer-songwriter’s authentic stage presence and catchy tracks make for an easy-on-the-ears listening experience. If you’re looking to enjoy some epic indie rock talent on Friday evening before hitting a headlining act, make your way to the BacardÍ stage and see all that Declan has to offer.

While writing this article, I delved deeper into Declan’s discography and then struggled to pick a song to recommend, because I like so many. Talk about a good problem to have 😉

Most Streamed Track:

Brazil

Yog’s Track Rec:

British Bombs

Motherfolk

Saturday, 1:00-1:45 | T-Mobile

Does the perfect daytime indie rock set exist for a Saturday at Lollapalooza? I’ll let Motherfolk answer that question. If my contemporary music history knowledge serves me right, Motherfolk has been jamming out for 10 calendar years. That’s a lot of time for an indie rock band to hone in on their live performances — having never seen them perform, I can only picture that their show will be astounding. Methinks this set will be a serious head-turner. I’m envisioning that their performance is the kind of thing that an innocent festival-goer walks by or hears in the distance, has their curiosity piqued, then they are ultimately sucked in by the band’s magnetism, only to stay for the entire set, then brag to their friends about the indie band that they found.

Most Streamed Track:

Kill the Sun

Yog’s Track Rec:

all I need

Arlie

Saturday, 1:50-2:30 | BacardÍ

Since 2018, Arlie has successfully snuck tracks onto the 100 most-listened to songs of my Spotify wrapped each year. When I saw them on the lineup, I knew I had to show them the love they deserve. In my humble opinion, Arlie creates the definition of feel-good music. Their sound sits somewhere on the cusp of indie rock, funk, and psychedelic. Is that medley of sounds difficult to wrap your head around? If yes, it’s because their music is genre-bending. If no, then you are probably queuing up some of their music as you read this, because you already know it’s a vibe and a half.

Most Streamed Track:

didya think

Yog’s Track Rec:

tossing and turning

Bonus Mention!

The Backseat Lovers

Sunday, 7:30-8:30 | Coinbase

Imagine, for even a moment, thinking I’d graze over the lineup and not mention The Backseat Lovers in an indie rock recap. They are on track to be (if not already) the biggest name in indie rock. Don’t take my word for it though, I’ll let the fact that they’re playing with the Arctic Monkeys in October speak for itself. Heck, they are the only indie rock band to make me cry during a live show. Having just caught their NYC set in June at Hammerstein Ballroom (4th time seeing them), I realized that their live sets are only — and always — improving.

ALPHA ALERT: I had the fortune of hearing them play some unreleased tracks during the encore of the aforementioned set in NYC and am optimistic that you will have the opportunity to as well if you attend this set!

I feel that indie rock bands are normally slotted to earlier scheduling, but The Backseat Lovers are getting the respect and credit they deserve with a 7pm set time. Mark my words that the band will only continue to play later sets on bigger stages, amassing larger crowds and ultimately gaining more ravings fans. Electrifying, captivating, exhilarating — throw almost any excitement-provoking adjective out and it will accurately detail what you’ll experience during their set.

Make sure you listen to the song, ‘Pool House’ and are familiar with the start of the chorus that goes “Wait in-sii-ide!” — I’ll give the Yog guarantee that they will play the song and everyone will scream the chorus. Thank me later for the free dose of goosebumps from singing the same lyrics as thousands of people.

Most Streamed Track:

Kilby Girl

Yog’s Track Rec:

Sinking Ship

As I write this, I realize I wish there were a way to know who attends what shows I’ve recommended and how they enjoyed them. I will chat with my Festisia Friends about bringing that to life. In the meantime, go out there and enjoy 🙂

– Yog

Previous Post
Miss the ‘Old Drake’: Don’t Tempt Him
Next Post
My Experience at elrow NYC