Formerly a roving festival, Lollapalooza is roosting at Chicago’s Grant Park for another three days this year, Aug. 7-9.
With seven stages, plus artworks, autograph tents and hundreds of vendors, it will be easy to get lost in the commotion.
Below we highlight our must-see picks for the festival, big and small, DJ and collectives, to help you get the biggest bang for your buck. We’ll even say hi to the Killers’ Brandon Flowers for you.
***Can’t catch the festival this year? Keep up with HitFix’s coverage from our own Katie Hasty via Twitter! ***
(Co-Headliners: Depeche Mode, Kings Of Leon)
Zap Mama: World music female group fronted by the wondrous-and seemingly ageless- Marie Daulne combines several different genres, but the unifying thread is the seemingly effortless beautiful noise that emerges every time they open their collective mouths.
Manchester Orchestra: This rock band has spent the last half year debuting a music video for each of its 11 tracks from “Mean Everything To Nothing.” That being said, they’re a very visually engaged group. Their live show kills.
The Decemberists: We don’t know if they’ll be performing “The Hazards of Love” in its entirety as they are on their solo dates this summer, but regardless of the repertoire, it’s always worth spending time with this musically ambitious Portland, Ore.-based band that puts a melodica and accordion in regular rotation.
Crystal Castles: This duo spins out cold, mean beats, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get you moving. Almost the antithesis of Fleet Foxes, who are playing across the park at the exact same time.
Kings of Leon: Are you really going to go all the way to Chicago and not see the hottest rock band in the world right now?
Gringo Star: A combination of ’70s psych-rock and the weird, amorphous vocal delivery of Devendra Banhart. Not just a wacky name, but a wacky show, too.
Andrew Bird: One-man band that singlehandedly plays more instruments than most bands in their collective entirety. It’s worth checking him out just to see how many sounds he comes up with.
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears: With all the rock posturing that may occur over the weekend, Lewis will be a relief: an old soul, who sings soul and epitomizes soul. Don’t downplay his backing band, either, whose horns section may just wake up Gary, Ind.
Gaslight Anthem: Bruce Springsteen isn’t playing Lollapalooza (we guess Bonnaroo was enough for him), but these fellow New Jersey-ites are the next best thing. The Springsteen acolytes have even been known to use his lyrics in songs and they share his strong sense of a great melody.
Kid Cudi: If you’re not at either headlining show, haul ass to the DJ tent for Kid Cudi, whose blistering ear for beats and chilled-out stoner rhymes will cap off your night just fine.
(Co-Headliners: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tool)
Robert Earl Keen: Texas troubadour has never become as famous as many of the performers who have cut his songs… folks like George Strait, the Dixie Chicks and Shawn Colvin. Hear the tunes delivered by the original source and see why he’s a superstar in the Lone Star State.
Band Of Skulls: Sure, Bon Iver and Thom Yorke will both be on the “Twilight Saga: New Moon” soundtrack, but so will these guys. This British band has only released an EP here in the ‘States, and they’ll blister you as much as their name implies.
Care Bears of Fire: These three 9th graders are all Chrissie Hynde, no Miley Cyrus. Check them out as they run through their punk-influenced, yet totally age appropriate, little pop gems.
Atmosphere: This dude has worked so long and hard at being a hip-hop household name, give him some credit. He mixes humor and linguistic zingers in with his choppy, backpacker beats.
Ida Maria: She’s a Norwegian spitfire, who growls like a tough chick, but she’s really soft and mushy inside just like the rest of us. Plus, she likes you better when you’re naked. How many other people would say that?
Joe Pug: This young songwriter captures the heart of artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, with his personal tales strung around acoustic folk and country melodies. His voice is beautiful and damaged.
Lykke Li: Swedish hippie chick with the little girl voice sings as if it’s a full-body experience. She’s entertaining even with the sound down as she gyrates and swirls in her quirky, compelling way.
Delta Spirit: The Beach Boys sound like summer. These guys are like a modern Beach Boys. Thus, Delta Spirit sounds like summer. Get ready for joy.
Ben Harper and the Relentless 7: Whether he’s playing with his other band, the Innocent Criminals, or this new collective, Harper is a wonder to behold on guitar– especially on slide, when a determined intensity takes over and he seemingly has the power to levitate off the ground.
Langhorne Slim: The dude is skinny and ugly as sh*t, but he will easily be one of the sexiest, most vibrant performers at Lollapalooza. Floor-stomping country and old-timey music meets punk and rockabilly.
(Co-Headliners: The Killers, Jane’s Addiction)
Bat for Lashes: Bat for Lashes is British artist Natasha Khan and her revolving line up of live musicians. But it’s all about Khan and her often dreamy vocals with tribal and dance rhythms. It makes for a heady, hypnotic brew.
Dan Deacon: Wanna see a bunch of hipsters get mostly naked and lose their brain for an hour? Wanna see a DJ who looks like he belongs in a mental institution? May be better people watching than your cup of tea; bring popcorn.
Neko Case: We don’t know where a voice as resonant and clear as Case’s comes from and we don’t care, we just glad we get to hear it. Between the expressive nuances in her vocals and the twisty turns in her lyrics, there’s no one out there like Case right now.
Portugal. The Man: “The Satanic Satanist” is one of this year’s best records. “Work All Day” is one of this year’s best singles. It’s for these reasons alone you should be there.
Jane’s Addiction: It’s going to be an emotional night as the original Jane’s Addiction plays its first Lollapalooza show in 18 years. See if Perry Farrell’s reptilian charm holds up after all these years. We bet it does…if not with Jane’s, then most definitely with Live Electro, his dance outfit that he’ll front at the festival on Saturday.
Boys Noize: Perry’s DJ stage is a total mind-wreck all day – with performances, too, from MSTRKRFT, Deadmau5 and Glitch Mob – but these Boys play tough beats without mercy. Think Ratatat, but, y’know, European.
The Greencards: Both Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson have asked this progressive bluegrass outfit to open for them. Do you really need more of a recommendation than that? Take a break from the synthesized sounds and cleanse your palate with some real music made on real instruments.
Alberta Cross: The British Duo mixes dust with sex. You don’t get it now, but you will.
Lou Reed: Oh, c’mon, people. There’s no excuse not to see Reed. He’s 67 and he may have softened somewhat, but he’s still crusty and irritable and can whip your ass. Many acts playing Lollapalooza owe their very existence to the likes of guitar/musical pioneer Reed. Accept no substitutes.
Passion Pit: Cool, pop-infused grooves meet otherworldly vocals and an intense, big-band setting. They put on a better live show that MGMT and have a new record on par with the best this year.