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The 5 best covers we heard at Lollapalooza 2015

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

One trend we've noticed at Lollapalooza (and music festivals in general) over the past few years is that bands love throwing a cover song into their sets. We can't blame 'em—it's fun to put your own spin on another artist's song, and crowds love hearing familiar tunes (there's a reason street festivals always book tribute acts). They serve a variety of purposes: Sometimes they pay homage to a legend, sometimes they're done in jest and sometimes they're phoned-in, set-padding schlock. But, when they're on point, it's awesome. Live performances are always special, but covers are even moreso because they truly feel like a one-time only deal (even when they're not). We kept our ears peeled for familiar riffs this weekend at Lollapalooza and gathered five cover songs that really sent us reeling. 

St. Paul and the Broken Bones covering "I've Been Loving You Too Long" by Otis Redding
An Otis Redding cover is totally in this band's wheelhouse, so it's no surprise that Paul Janeway and company knocked it out of the park. Everything was spot-on, from the swelling horns to the impassioned vocals—we get the feeling that the Big O himself would have been proud of this reverent interpretation.

Hot Chip covering "Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen and "All My Friends" by LCD Soundsystem
Here's something we don't hear very often: A tribute twofer! The British band's synthed-up Boss tribute was already enjoyable, but when it seamlessly transitioned into one of LCD Soundsystem's best songs, we threw caution (and dignity) to the wind and showed off our fanciest footwork. 

BØRNS covering "Bennie And The Jets" by Elton John 
Much like Elton John, Garrett Borns is an outsized personality who was born to perform. Marking a departure from the rippling psychedelia of the rest of BØRNS' set, the group's straightforward cover of "Bennie And The Jets" nailed everything that makes the song amazing, from the falsetto vocals to the instantly recognizable hook.

First Aid Kit covering "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath
Chalk this one up as the weekend's most unexpected cover. Midway through the set, the Swedish songstresses lent their pristine harmonies to a rendition of... a Black Sabbath song. These two have the voices of angels, so hearing them sing about Satan laughing and spreading his wings was at once hilarious and perfect.

Sturgill Simpson covering "The Promise" by When In Rome
Kentucky country crooner Sturgill Simpson could have covered any old Nashville standard—instead he chose a new wave classic by a British one-hit wonder. When In Rome's (only) famous song sounds like it was written to soundtrack the credits of a John Hughes movie, but Simpson and his band turned it into a twangy heartfelt ballad, rendering it almost unrecognizable.

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