What the heck is going on with summer music festivals this year? When Coachella released its lineup earlier this month, my initial thought was the bill looked like a weird May-December romance between Spring Awakening and Ravinia. EDM dudes mingle among dinosaur rock and adult contemporary acts. Steely Dan, AC/DC, Ryan Adams and Hozier will politely nod and smile to gazillionaire European DJs like David Guetta, Alesso and Axwell backstage.
Yesterday, Bonnaroo followed suit with a bizarre lineup that casts an even wider net. Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons and Deadmau5 are the headliners, just above Robert Plant, Bassnectar, Tears for Fears, Alabama Shakes, Flume… It's like they wrote a bot that randomly scraped the iTunes store for names. Clearly, these big tents are reaching for as wide a demographic as possible, but at some point the events turn into the musical equivalent of blending together breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert and drinking it all in one gulp.
I already took an extremely premature guess at what Lollapalooza might look like this year. Considering the recent spate of festival and new-album announcements, it's time for 2015 Predictions 2.0. (Plus Riot Fest, Pitchfork and the rest while we're at it.) Let's do this Goldilocks style.
A realistic, best-case scenario:
Pearl Jam • Kanye West • Florence + The Machine
Kendrick Lamar • Björk • Modest Mouse
A worst-case scenario:
Metallica • Muse • Deadmau5
David Guetta • Smashing Pumpkins • Imagine Dragons
The most likely scenario:
The Black Keys • Drake • Muse
Jack White • Florence + The Machine • Deadmau5
We have given up on Daft Punk. I mean, it's always the Black Keys, right? Drake's own OVO festival in Toronto and Montreal's Osheaga are both the same weekend as Lollapalooza. When those lineups are announced, this should come into greater focus. Acts often jump between those fests that first weekend in August. Bear in mind as well that Jack White, the Smashing Pumpkins and Pharrell are headlining the South American Lollapaloozas in March. LiveNation also completed its deal for a majority stake in C3 last month, which could make for some big-name surprises like Madonna, Jay Z and other titans affiliated with the brand.
I think it's a safe bet to also expect Alt-J, Ryan Adams, Tame Impala, Matt & Kim, Kaskade, the War on Drugs, St. Vincent, Tove Lo, FKA Twigs and Purity Ring at the festival.
As for Pitchfork, I see something like Sleater-Kinney • Sufjan Stevens • The Weeknd, sticking with its "'90s Legacy • Indie Darling • Contemporary Hip-Hop" formula. I also envision Run the Jewels, Chromatics, Ride, Caribou, Panda Bear, Ariel Pink in Union Park in July.
The wild card in all this is Riot Fest, which has grown to become the second-biggest ticket in town. It will score some major names in Humboldt Park. The vibe there is always way more '90s rock. I think Modest Mouse, No Doubt, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Decemberists, Noel Gallagher are in play there. They'll all have new stuff and/or are active headlining things this summer, like everyone else on this page.
For giggles, here's a stab at North Coast: Childish Gambino, Umphrey's McGee, Spoon, Ratatat. Oh, and the newly revived Prodigy. It has booked Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers in the past, remember.
And don't forget there's the AV Club / Hideout Block Party, Spring Awakening, Wicker Park Fest, Do Division…