Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lollapalooza 2010 artist picks: Some best bets at the fest

Posted by Frank

The Strokes
Lollapalooza 2010 madness is just a couple days away, and that means there's only a little time left to map out a plan of action for your time at the fest. What time should you get there on each day? Should you watch The Strokes or Lady Gaga? Who are the lesser-known gems this time? These are important questions. One who enters into Lolla unprepared might very well wind up having a less-than-stellar experience. I've put together a list of my top picks for each day of the fest below, and for even more recommendations be sure to check out fellow WCR writer Susan's selections on her page.

Friday, August 6

The Ettes (12:30-1:15, BMI stage): The three-piece's revved-up yet pop-minded garage rock should serve as a perfect way to kick off the festivities. It's always a good idea to begin with something lively.

Mavis Staples (2-3, Budweiser stage): I admittedly tend to be a rock purist when at music festivals, but this Chicago gospel legend is undeniably good, and the fact that she recorded her forthcoming record, You Are Not Alone, with Jeff Tweedy makes her even cooler.

The New Pornographers (4-5, Budweiser stage): Even though the band has played the fest before and people might not feel the need to see them again, their fantastic new record, Together, makes this an essential set for me. Plus, their beezy, thoughtful power pop simply makes for a great way to spend an afternoon. 

The Black Keys (6-7:15, Budweiser stage): I'm not typically one for bluesy stuff, but there's no denying that they rock and are among the Lolla artists most well suited to an outdoor festival setting. And because of this, which is just one of the best things ever.

The Strokes and Lady Gaga (8:30-10, Budweiser stage and 8-10, South stage): This one's a draw. The Strokes are always a good time and it will be interesting to see if they play any new material, but Gaga will undoubtedly be a spectacle, and spectacles are sort of what big music fests are all about. It might be worth trying to catch a portion of each.

Saturday, August 7

Skybox (12:30-1:15, BMI stage): This was a great choice for one of the few Chicago-based bands to represent our city at the fest this year. If you have a liking for quirky pop songs, like me, you won't want to miss them. Their recently released LP, Morning After Cuts (reviewed here), is full of truly wonderful, joyous indie pop, and they're one hell of an entertaining live act to boot.

Wild Beasts (1:15-2:15, Playstation stage): These Brits have something interesting going on. The music is bizarre-yet-accessible art pop/rock. The vocals are falsetto, and perhaps a bit jarring, but work. The overall vibe is just very captivating, and should be a nice break from the cookie-cutter acts at the fest.

JP, Chrissie and The Fairground Boys (4:15-4:35, Kidz stage): Need I say more for this pick than “Chrissie freakin' Hynde”? Chrissie is a tried-and-true rock legend that could eat most of the fresh-faced, green kiddies playing Lolla for breakfast. If she were to be playing a set of Polka songs, I'd still be there with bells on. The fact that she is performing with her new act JP, Chrissie and The Fairground Boys, whose forthcoming record is promising to be the the most spirited thing she's done since The Pretenders' early '80s records, is just icing. Too bad the set duration is so short.

Spoon (6:15-7:30, Budweiser stage): It's debatable whether Spoon is a riveting live act, but they have such a large back catalog of fantastic material that for my money, they're worth catching either way. Plus, lately their setlists have looked very appealing, featuring a nice mix of the various sides to their overall sound.

Green Day (7:45-10, South stage): Yes, Green Day have become a tad questionable in recent years. Personally, it's not the poppier music that causes concern, but rather the obvious effort to appeal to kiddies with a faux-punk image that seems to get progressively lamer as time goes on. That said, I think it's safe to say this set will be entertaining, and say what you will, they've come up with some damn good tunes over the years. Phoenix, who are headlining the Bud stage at the same time, will surely deliver a perfectly fine set, but I'm not quite sure they will be as exciting to watch or that they've earned a headlining Lolla set quite yet.

Sunday, August 8

Arcade Fire
Miniature Tigers (11:30-12:15, PlayStation stage): You don't get much more fun than this indie pop act, who first gained attention for their breezy debut, Tell It to the Volcano. They've added new layers and textures to their sound on their new sophomore effort, Fortress, showing definite growth while preserving the playfulness. If you're willing to get to the fest this early, be sure to check them out.

Company of Thieves (1-1:45, The Grove stage): Like Skybox, locally-based trio Company of Thieves made it on the lineup to represent the Windy City this year. The band's rich, intelligent pop/rock, highlighted by Genevieve Schatz's alluring vocals, should be a great way to spend 45 minutes. Learn more from our recent Q&A with the band.

MGMT (6-7:15, Budweiser stage): I gained a whole new respect for MGMT after they released their sophomore album, Congratulations, earlier this year. It made me go from not really taking them seriously to being downright impressed by the creativity and song structures they've grown to achieve. If you're in the same camp, they'll be an obvious choice on Sunday evening.

The National (7:15-8:30, PlayStation stage): The band's latest release, High Violet, is stellar, and their moody indie rock should be a perfect lead-in to...

Arcade Fire (8:30-10, Budweiser stage): The arty alt-rock act plays against Soundgarden, and for my tastes they are the clear winner. They were compelling when they played Grant Park's first Lolla installment in 2005, they've been compelling when they've played indoor venues in the city, and with new songs in tow from their third LP, The Suburbs, they'll no doubt be an amazing way to end this year's festival.


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  2. So pumped to see Slightly Stoopid and Rebelution! Official Lolla Preshow w/ Slightly Stoopid & Collie Buddz tonight at the House of Blues...check it out!