Monday, August 1, 2011

Lollapalooza 2011 lineup picks

We're suddenly just a few days away from Chicago's annual heat+sweat+music extravaganza in Grant Park known as Lollapalooza. Sure, some might say that--in the words of Jim DeRogatis--it's like a musical "Wal-Mart on the Lake." But you know what? It always turns out to be a good time. Of course, in order to maximize enjoyment you have to do some planning (unless your sole purpose of going is not for the music, but to aimlessly stagger around drunk and shirtless--in which case, please get out of my way). It's critical to map out your schedule in advance so you don't end up with any regrets once it's over. For anyone looking for suggestions, I (Frank) plus fellow WCR writer Andrew Hertzberg have put together our lists of artists we're planning to make sure to catch. Take a look below, and also check out our previous post specifically on Chicago-based bands playing the fest this year. Who are you most excited to see?

Friday, August 5th 

The Vaccines (Music Unlimited, 12:45-1:30): This stuff is damn catchy. Sure, there's a lot of catchy rock out there, but The Vaccines' Spector-meets-old school NYC underground-influenced style is especially well-done. The melodies to singles such as "Post Break-Up Sex" and "If You Wanna" click immediately, and amazingly, even most of the album tracks on debut LP What Did You Expect From the Vaccines are just as infectious. Sure to provide a needed jolt of energy to kick off three full days of Lolla. --Frank 

Tennis (Google+, 1-1:45): With a weekend full of sun, music, parties, after-parties and after-shows, it’s probably best to kick things off a bit low key. The duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore make music to sail around the world to, which is essentially what they did, coasting along the North Atlantic at five miles an hour for seven months a few years back. The translated the experience into beach pop tunes perfect for a lazy Friday afternoon. --Andrew 

Smith Westerns
Smith Westerns (Playstation, 3:30-4:30): Dye It Blonde, the second LP from Chicago's Smith Westerns, is full of great big glam-pop tunes that have brought the band international attention. The band's live shows seem to be hit or miss, but I'm taking a chance on these guys and their tunes sounding extra good in the sunshine and heat. --Frank 

Le Butcherettes (Google+, 3:30-4:15): I know, I know, I should be checking out hometown heroes the Smith Westerns at this time. But to be perfectly honest, I found their set at p4k last year a bit lackluster. Maybe their new found national recognition might have got them to kick it up a bit live, but I’m thinking I gotta check out the Mexican garage punk inspired equally by Luis Bunuel, Malcolm X and Sylvia Plath. --Andrew 

Cults (Google+, 4:45-5:30): Probably the definition of buzzband, and maybe the biggest shocker for a band to play Lolla and not p4k (up there with Dom). Preconceptions be damned, Cults make some damn fine music; catchy for sure and perfect for the outdoor atmosphere. Looking forward to the toy xylophone of "Go Outside." --Andrew 

OK GO (Google+, 7:15-8:15): This is around the time of the day that I usually stop caring a bit (the earlier acts are almost always a lot more exciting than the headliners--who's with me?). But one-time Chicago band OK GO should keep the good times going and provide more than enough incentive to get (or stay) moving. --Frank

Saturday, August 6th 

Grouplove (Sony, 12:00-12:45): An early set, but one you can’t miss. Somehow, the powers at be bought five individuals from New York, LA and London to Crete, to develop enchanting friendships and eventually form a band that plays seamlessly off their cosmic energy. Their eponymous debut EP was the sleeper hit of yesteryear, a fusion of Modest Mouse angst and carefree SoCal party jams. --Andrew 

Friendly Fires (Bud Light, 2:15-3:00): It’s hard to pinpoint the exact sound of this English trio. They definitely lean into the synth and effect heavy dance category. They have strong dynamic though and you can find as much Talking Heads influence as Basement Jaxx though, and singer/bassist Ed Mcfarlane isn’t embarrassed to admit his love of late '90s boy bands (even if he should be). Either way, get hydrated before this band – it’s gonna get hot and sweaty real quick. --Andrew

Black Lips
Black Lips (Playstation, 3-4): When at Lolla, any and every energy boost is appreciated. The occasional folky, sleepy set can be a nice break, but the amped up stuff is really what makes a music festival a music festival. That's why Black Lips are on my schedule. Even if the production of their latest album Arabia Mountain is a bit more refined, the raw energy is still there and should be out in full force Saturday afternoon. --Frank 

Big Audio Dynamite (Music Unlimited, 4:30-5:30): Honestly, I’m not the biggest B.A.D. fan. But after missing out on Gorillaz last fall, this is probably gonna be the closest I’ll ever get to seeing the Clash. After the disbandment, Mick Jones was free to explore and develop his embrace of hip-hop and Kingston sounds. They’re still putting out new tunes, always a good sign for one of the few veteran acts on the weekend’s bill. --Andrew 

Cee Lo Green (Music Unlimited, 6:30-7:30): This man is one big spectacle. That is reason enough for me to make time for him at 6:30 on Saturday, even if I got tired of hearing "Fuck You" months ago. --Frank

Sunday, August 7th

Gold Motel (Playstation, 12:15-1): If your spirits are dragging a bit after two full days in the heat, Gold Motel will help liven them up for the home stretch with their arsenal of infectious, sun-drenched power pop. These guys and girl are another one of the handful of Chicago acts playing the fest, so be sure to get there early and show them some love. --Frank 

Titus Andronicus (Music Unlimited, 12:45-1:30): Despite trying to avoid p4k 2010 bands, I can’t say no to Titus. These Jersey existential punks put on a great show, full of energy, noise, patriotism (irony undetermined) and literary references. This is gonna be a high energy set to start off the last day. Afterwards, keep an eye out for frontman Patrick Stickles fixing broken garbage bags. Dude keeps it green. --Andrew 

Daedelus (Perry’s, 2-3): No, I haven’t learned my lesson from the disappointment of seeing DJ Shadow and am gonna venture again to see a solo artist rock some electronica and left field hip-hop. But I’ve got high hopes the multi-instrumentalist with a jazz education to keep things interesting. If nothing else, the sounds will be a nice change of pace from the rest of the weekend. --Andrew 

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Sony, 3-4): Anyone who considers themselves a sucker for great indie pop wouldn't likely be able to resist the charms of this NYC band. Their sophomore album Belong in particular offers plenty to get excited about. It channels the best of synth, noise pop and indie rock over the course of 10 solid tracks. Some might say they're just another indie pop band. Maybe so, but they're good one, and I'm really counting on digging their Lolla set. --Frank 

The Cool Kids (Perry’s, 3-4): Following immediately after Daedelus on the same stage are Chicago based hip hop duo the Cool Kids. After legal troubles with a previous label, they’ve finally released their debut LP When Fish Ride Bicycles. Despite the issues, they’ve continued to tour over the past couple years and grow a strong following. Doubly interesting will be to see if the Cold War Kids join ‘em on stage. --Andrew 

Lissie (Google+, 4:30-5:15): I love listening to Lissie for the same reason I love listening to someone like Neko Case or Stevie Nicks. She's got a voice that can't be ignored, loads humble-yet-bewitching charm and top tunes that are catchy and often poppy but not dumb. Check out her debut album Catching a Tiger to see what I mean. This set should be a late-fest breath of fresh air. --Frank

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