17 Fresh AF Artists You’re About To Be Obsessed With
Here are the dope acts from Lollapalooza everyone is buzzing about.
Lollapalooza rang in its 25th anniversary with four days of more than 150 bands and artists, including headliners like Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem and Lana Del Rey. But the best part of this year’s fest (besides the weird and wonderful fashion) was the bright new sounds that dominated the scene.
Dose was onsite at Chicago’s Grant Park and sat down with some of our favorite under-the-radar acts, from Con Brio to Generik. Here’s who you should be listening to ASAP.
Since their 2008 breakout hit “Bruises,” Chairlift’s music has evolved significantly — and we couldn’t be happier. Their 2016 self-produced album “Moth” is jam packed with emotionally uninhibited songs like “Crying In Public.”
We sat down with Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly who told us about the “darker, richer and more layered side” of the album.
“We sort of came of age as producers over the course of making this record,” Polachek said. “Patrick comes from a jazz background so improvisation was more and more part of the process. I started studying opera while making this record and I pushed myself to give the most athletic vocal performances so far in my life.”
Her training clearly paid off — Polachek gut-punched the crowd at Lolla with an insane, multi-dimensional vocal range.
Polachek said she’s been fascinated with how music influences moods ever since she heard David Bowie’s “Low” at a college party.
“He takes these drifting, dreamlike moods and then digs right through it like a drill,” she said.
Listen to “Crying In Public”
2. Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges’ smooth vocals and retro-inspired riffs are all the best, sexiest parts of R&B. The crowd was living for his suave cover of Ginuwine’s “Pony,” plus he slayed originals like “Lisa Sawyer” and “Twistin’ and Groovin’.” We’re sweating again just thinking about it.
Listen to “River” here.
3. Con Brio
We had too much fun at San Francisco-based soul band Con Brio’s set on day one of the fest. Singer Ziek McCarter impressed with both backflips (yes, really) and killer, genre-bending vocal chops.
“As far as that energy goes, we just get up there and do our thing,” guitar player Ben Andrews told us. “The music is pretty well rehearsed but there’s a lot more room in the solo sections as opposed to what’s on the record.”
Andrews said he’s personally drawn to guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, who stay true to their own musical voice, even when collaborating. As for the seven-member band, Andrews said they pull influence from Prince, which you would know if you watched McCarter perform for even 30 seconds.
“I’m always getting turned on to someone new in the band, and I’ll turn someone onto something new,” he said. “I think we’re all just appreciators of a broad spectrum of music.”
Listen to “Free & Brave”
4. Vic Mensa
Chicago native/hip hop darling Vic Mensa channeled his Lolla set into a powerful political protest. Mensa sang “16 Shots” while dancers dressed as police held him down — an emotionally charged reminder of Laquan McDonald’s death.
Mensa also hit us right in the feels with a rendition of his pro-LGBTQ song “Free Love.”
Listen to “U Mad” feat. Kanye West.
Grimes’ Claire Boucher works the stage in a way that’s distinctly unique from other synthpop acts. She blurs the divide between audience and artist, darting between instruments and crooning over high-powered electro-beats that have a grunge twist.
Her savage Lolla performances of “Flesh Without Blood,” “Kill V Maim” and “Go” were among the liveliest highlights of the entire fest.
Listen to “Flesh without Blood”
6. Lewis Del Mar
Brooklyn duo Lewis Del Mar explores a mix of folk, pop and experimental sounds. Their song “Loud(y)” secured a deal with Columbia Records, which means we can expect to see them at more festivals and creating more Spotify playlists for their fans.
Listen to “Loud(y)”
English indie rock band Foals belted hit songs “What Went Down” and “Mountain at My Gates,” followed by an impromptu jam session in the pouring rain on Lolla day two. Anyone lucky enough to catch their aftershow at House of Blues (we were) intimately experienced their complex, art-rock vibe.
Listen to “Mountain At My Gates”
We’ve been following Jackal since we first heard his 2013 beat-dropping track “Shakedown.” As a producer, he has a knack for mixing trap beats with modern sounds to create a dynamic mix — it’s no wonder his 2015 hit “Animal Style” reached commercial success.
When asked about how his music crosses over to mainstream pop, Jackal said he hopes pop will continue to influence his sound.
“It’s a really good thing,” he said. “A lot of my new stuff has a lot of poppy vocals on it, and I’m mixing that with my own take on a trappy sound. That’s really exciting to me. It’s more interesting to me than instrumentals.”
Jackal confessed that Justin Bieber’s collaboration with Major Lazer is currently his favorite song on the radio.
“If people are trying to make some good shit happen, it can happen,” he said. “If they put their mind to it and take away their ego it can be a great thing.”
Listen to “Animal Style”
English electro-act Flume has collaborated with an impressive collection of diverse artists, including Tove Lo, Disclosure and Kai. He even brought out Vic Mensa to sing their hot collab, “Lose It” before going into trip hop hits “Never Be Like You” and “Insane.” The set closed with his dreamy, sexy Disclosure collab “You and Me.”
Listen to “Never Be Like You” feat. Kai
It’s easy to fall into a trance listening to Banners — his melodic vocals and backing harmonies are borderline hypnotic. The Liverpool-born artist fuses pop, folk and post-dubstep in hit songs like “Shine A Light” and “Start a Riot.”
But the best part about Banners’ music is the emotionally raw lyrics. He told us about the importance of creating a personal connection.
“It sounds like a horrible cliché, but so much of it is really, you got to write about what means something to you,” he said. “If you write about what something means to someone else, you’re never gonna connect to people. It’s really just writing things that are important to you — the relationships in your life or things that matter to you.”
Influenced by artists like Jeff Buckley and Paul Simon, the singer said he wants his work to be “timeless,” which explains his music’s cinematic vibe. That’s why he has a soft spot for his ballad-y song, “Ghosts.”
“It’s one I’ve had for years, like 8 or 9 years, and it was one of those I wrote on the piano at my dad’s house in the middle of the night, and now I get to play it on the stage in front of people,” he said.
Listen to “Shine A Light”
Kiiara’s addicting hit “Gold” was a bonafide viral hit this year — it racked up as many as 180,000 Soundcloud plays in its first eight days. The 21-year-old singer owned the Lolla stage in a giant raincoat, breaking down stop-motion electro beats that gave us major FKA Twigs vibes, with a poppy edge.
After hearing debuted material from her upcoming album, we’re betting more explosive things to come.
Listen to “Gold”
12. Seven Lions
Producer Seven Lions mixes electro house, dubstep, bass and soul into a crazy hybrid that somehow works. His recently released EP “Creation” shows major promise in the EDM world, with the ultra-entrancing track “Leaving Earth.”
He told us preparing for a big set like Lolla is an artform all itself.
“I mix genres so much and my songs are not very DJ-friendly,” he said. “It’s not like I’m just playing a house set or a trap set; I have to know what I’m gonna be doing, to play drum and bass.”
Hell-bent on bringing dance music back to its roots, Seven Lions is about to launch a North American tour.
Listen to “Leaving Earth”
Despite a tough personal year, Kehlani took the Lolla stage with a fresh new look and dance moves that left us dumbstruck. Through rain and audio snafus, the California native belted ultra-personal songs like “Jealous” and “The Way,” a collaboration with Chance The Rapper.
We’re anxious to hear more of Kehlani’s whispery, vulnerable songs as she continues to triumph over social media drama.
Listen to “The Way” feat. Chance The Rapper
14. Marian Hill
Listening to indie-pop duo Marian Hill is like floating in a dream, from the ethereal violin to Samantha Gongol’s slinky voice. At Lolla, they entranced a swaying crowd with songs like “One Time” and “Got It,” off the album “Sway.”
Listen to “Got It”
Australian DJ Generik is anything but, well, generic. Discovered by Calvin Harris, he’s quickly become a prominent face in the dance music scene. His pump-up jam “The Weekend” is almost as energetic as his high voltage personality — pair that with a deep knowledge of EDM/pop crossovers and you’ve got an unstoppable force.
We caught up with the first time Lolla performer and chatted about his first time meeting Calvin Harris.
“He’s an amazing guy and an amazing artist, it’s a real privilege to know the guy and his work ethic is incredible,” he said. “It’s something to aspire to. He doesn’t say much and he doesn’t have to, you can learn from that…He works his ass off and that’s why he’s so good.”
When asked about music’s recent downtempo pop/house movement, Generik said Flume and Hayden James are responsible for this shift. “They make these downtempo, sexy house, future trap or whatever you wanna call it and it’s really lovely to listen to. You can listen to it while vacuuming on a Sunday or when you’re pre-gaming.”
Listen to “The Weekend”
16. Local Natives
Between the release of their new single “Fountain of Youth” and their stellar Lollapalooza performance, the Los Angeles band is making a strong comeback to the indie music scene. Experimenting with new arrangements, the five-piece band took the Bud Light stage at Lolla and sang new songs like “Past Lives” before going into their classics.
Listen to “Villainy”
17. Bloc Party
Frontman Kele Okereke opened their Lolla set with “Only He Can Heal Me” off their new critically-acclaimed album “Hymns,” then ventured into fan favorites like “Helicopter” and “Banquet” — much to an eager mosh pit’s satisfaction.
We chatted with Russell Lissack and Louise Bartle about Bloc Party’s new sound.
“It’s just evolving as we’ve gone along and trying to do something different and challenge ourselves, so it just felt like the next step in our journey,” Lissack said about “Hymns.” “Now we’re working on new stuff with Louise and Justin and I guess it’s different again and it’s our next step for us. I think that’s been at the core of Bloc Party and what we do: experimentation.”
Bartle, who replaced Matt Tong as the band’s drummer, said learning the new riffs was a fun process. “It didn’t come easy but it was a lot of time spent on it,” she said. “I wanted to get the little things, the details, ’cause I think that’s really important to get the specifics ’cause it wasn’t me, so I want to play it the way it should be played. But I do add my flavor, too.”
When they’re not listening to bands like Alabama Shakes on the tour bus, they’re likely watching “Friends” together.
Listen to “The Love Within”