It's never too early to start forecasting the upcoming summer concert landscape. After all, the big summer music festivals like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork begin their annual scrap to book acts this soon, so let's go for it. Two things on Friday got my brain churning about the possibilities. First, news of the Sleater-Kinney reunion and comeback album leaked. Later in the evening, I watched Foo Fighters at Cubby Bear, where Dave Grohl insinuated his band would return "soon," perhaps at Wrigley Field. Both acts are festival headliners (of varying scale) and two pieces of the puzzle. Here's how I prematurely put together the picture today. Yes, again, I am merely speculating.
Drake Toronto Raptor mascot Drake has been leaking cuts from his upcoming fourth album, Views from the 6. He's yet to play the role of festival headliner, but as he continues to follow in the footsteps of Kanye and Jay Z, it seems inevitable.
Foo Fighters Lolla loves to recycle (see: Kings of Leon, the Killers in recent years)—and needs to in order to find rock acts that can fill the massive south field. But as I mentioned above, I'm putting my money on a Wrigley Field gig, that late July weekend opposite Pitchfork that has played host to Billy Joel and Pearl Jam the last two summers.
[UPDATE: At 5pm today, the Foo Fighters announced the Wrigley Field concert, August 29, 2015.]
Madonna My thinking here is strictly business. Live Nation is in talks to purchase Lollapalooza promoter C3. Seven years ago, the music biz behemoth inked Madonna to a $120 million deal. Her career needs a boost and Live Nation needs a return on that investment. The company is seemingly pursuing this latest buyout for greater vertical integration of its assets. In 2008, U2 signed with Live Nation for $100. Just saying. Just thinking cynical.
Metallica Speaking of business deals, Metallica has partnered with C3 in its own erstwhile festival, Orion. I took a swing at this pick last year and missed, but here's another try. If Lollapalooza can regurgitate bands, than so can I.
Modest Mouse Ditto these somewhat M.I.A. sailors. I thought Isaac Brock and company would hit Chicago in 2014, but they instead played Osheaga in Montreal. The band is long overdue for a new album, and last go-around it topped the Pitchfork bill. I also wouldn't be shocked if Beck, who slayed in Union Park in July, returns for Lolla's larger grounds in 2015.
Muse Again see: Kings of Leon, the Killers.
Gwen Stefani Like so many Lolla headliners, she is of the '90s. She also bleeds into several demographics, especially after becoming a judge on The Voice. Her new album, produced by Benny Blanco and Pharrell, is coming soon. She's the rare massive pop star that can appeal to bros who dig the Chili Peppers.
Kanye West Really, Yeezy, you're going to headline festivals in San Francisco and Tennessee (Outside Lands and Bonnaroo in 2014) and not your hometown?
Missy Elliott Pitchfork has fallen into a bit of a pattern of late. The headliners of the three-day festival have gone: Alternative icon, Indie Hero, Hip-Hop Coup. In 2013, that worked out as Björk, Belle & Sebastian, R. Kelly. This year, we got Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, Kendrick Lamar. Partly as a wish, I'm putting money on this comeback, as well as…
New Order A new album, rumored to be under the guidance of James Murphy, is due in 2015. This would be that first icon slot then.
Sleater-Kinney The Pitchfork website announced this reunion today using four exclamation points in the headline. Hours later, the trio's just-okay-by-Sleater-standards comeback tune was deemed Best New Track. Probably the choice I feel most comfortable about on this page.
The xx The London threesome has been quiet for a while. The xx are the rare modern act that sits at that perfect Goldilocks level between household name and indie success (i.e., a Pitchfork headliner vs. a Lollapalooza runner-up). Back in May, the band was already at work on LP No. 3.
Noel Gallagher Riot Fest is even more deeply nostalgic than the other two festivals. Until Oasis reunites (and that will happen someday), Noel will push his solo career. His second solo album is out in March, and the guy carries that right mix of rock classicist and Clinton-era hitmaker that Riot lures.
Guns N' Roses Riot Fest continually pulls a rabbit out of its hat, having booked the Replacements and expanded its grounds to mammoth proportions over the last couple summers. I'm not saying the festival can patch up the relationship between Slash and Axl, but why not book another Tommy Stinson group?
Smashing Pumpkins Billy Corgan, when not writing a musical, is prepping two new Pumpkins albums for 2015. His act can no longer legitimately headline Lolla, not without James and Jimmy, but I don't see his ego accepting anything lower than headliner status. Hence Riot Fest. It makes a lot more sense all around.
As you may have noticed, I did not include Daft Punk. I've stopped hoping / don't want to jinx it. Frankly, at this point I see the robots finally setting off on a massive arena tour instead of doing the festival circuit. Come to think of it, I failed to include an A-list EDM act, perhaps foolishly. With Lolla having recently spent on Skrillex, Calvin Harris and Avicii, who's left? (Going down the list of Forbes' highest-paid DJs in 2014) David Guetta? Tiësto? Steve Aoki?
Ah, who am I kidding? Lollapalooza is going to be like the Black Keys, Maroon 5, Hozier, Will.i.am and some 19-year-old Dutch whiz who's not on my radar.