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Lollapalooza 2014: 50 Must-See Acts

The ultimate festival guide! Our picks for rockers, ravers, hip-hoppers and more

Lollapalooza

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Lollapalooza is about to explode across eight stages in Chicago's Grant Park. Here is a genre-hopping guide to the essential bands (and food!) for five different kinds of fans prowling descending upon the sunny expanse: rockers, hip-hop heads, EDM freaks, roots devotees and R&B enthusiasts. And if you're staying home this year, here's how to watch the fest's best sets right here on RS.

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Lollapalooza for the Rock Fan

Sets You'll Probably Catch: For starters, the stadium-sized inquiries ("Do I Wanna Know?" "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?") of the cheeky Arctic Monkeys and the Coldplay-of-the-South churning of Kings of Leon need little introduction. Back with new material after four-year gaps, dapper post-punks Interpol and indie craftsmen Spoon are alt-rock vets reenergized, and ex-Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis rides in with fresh solo material. Fun. fans should take note of Jack Antanoff's Bleachers side project. Hungry for something a little more visceral? Tennesee blues-rock titans J. Roddy Walston and the Business and Kentucky bruisers Cage the Elephant aren't exactly tiptoeing. The blistering Parquet Courts, who are like the Modern Lovers on Ritalin, could steal a Saturday heavy on rap and EDM. For lyrical clout, cling to Aussie psych-folkster Courtney Barnett's every word, or let your heart roll onto the grass to Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck's penetrating hillbilly missives. You could also harmonize along with twin-wigged vocalists in Lucius, who sport a modernized Buckingham-less Fleetwood Mac aesthetic.

You Might Also Like: Pioneering ATL hip-hop duo Outkast has an abundance of Prince and Parliament in their DNA and Australian electro-rockers Cut/Copy don't scrimp on new wave hooks either. With stage presence for days, Swedish alt-pop stylist Lykke Li packs Heart and Phil Spector into her latest, I Never Learn. Phantogram and CHVRCHES both wield synths like guitars, and understand how to craft anthems. However, U.K. dance troupe Jungle could be funkiest band of the weekend: That Bootsy bump on "Busy Earnin'" is easy to dig, and impossible to shake. Unless, of course, that title will go to NOLA's Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, who put sass in their brass, welded on a heavy rock undercarriage.

Best-Kept Secret: Nashville's Fly Golden Eagle's ramshackle garage-psych muscle and skyscraping riffage has earned them opening slots for Dr. Dog and the Alabama Shakes. By Reed Fischer

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Lollapalooza for the EDM Fan

Sets You'll Probably Catch: Skrillex and Calvin Harris are the main-stage EDM extravaganzas to check out in the year where the genre outstrips many others at Lolla — with more than 20 EDM acts represented. Harris will present his bubblicious hit "Summer" with a dazzling light-and-magic pageantry. And while Skrillex's giddy bass warfare reliably spins the world off its axis, you definitely don't want to miss Gesaffelstein's doomy, irascibly funky Theater of Existential Boom, wherein the French producer Mike Lévy (who has collaborated on tracks with both Kanye West and Daft Punk) will drop beats and cigarettes with equal ferociousness.

You Might Also Like: Babyfaced "Animals" wunderkind Martin Garrix, whose frolicsome EDM-pop has more low-end crunch than most of his peers, and Chase & Status, the British dubstep-crossover vets whose monumental "Blind Faith" is reason enough to sweat it out in Perry Farrell's dance tent. Also, Rudimental's arena-sized dubstep-pop spectacle is not to be missed, though an after-hours party on Saturday at EvilOlive for their label Black Butter might be even more of a satisfying immersion. Also, if you're a brave traveler, check out the brooding ambient-electronic soundscrapes and digital death-blips of Nicolas Jaar's project Darkside. Once the sort of DJ who'd drop a BBC Essential Mix, Jaar is going in the other direction now, but with just as overwhelmingly intense results.

Best-Kept Secret: Disclosure's "live" after-hours set at the Aragon Ballroom will likely be the weekend's most sought-after dance ticket, as the Lawrence brothers are now certified U.S. pop kingmakers after their radio breakthrough with "Latch." By Charles Aaron

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Lollapalooza for the Hip-Hop Fan

Sets You'll Probably Catch: It's probable that your main attraction at Lollapalooza is the long-awaited reunion of Andre 3000 and Big Boi on Saturday. East Point, GA's favorite sons, Outkast, have sharpened their performances after a bumpy Coachella set in April, and they now explore their back catalog with enthusiasm – from diving into solo joints to inviting some lucky ladies on stage to "shake it like a Polaroid picture." Expect plenty of hits along with the occasional deep album cut – a gig at Milwaukee's Summerfest yielded Stankonia gem "Gasoline Dreams." Killer Mike may show up for renditions of "The Whole World" and "Kryptonite," too, since his Run the Jewels project with New York iconoclast El-P performs on Sunday. Friday brings Eminem, who's bringing his "Rapture" tour. Expect plenty of cuts from his critically acclaimed The Marshall Mathers LP 2, maybe a cameo from Bad Meets Evil partner Royce Da 5'9" and, hopefully, a mention of his new Busta Rhymes collaboration "Calm Down." And who wouldn't want to revisit Illmatic with Nas, who's been performing the classic album in full this summer?

You Might Also Like: Chicago's rap scene is currently one of the hottest in the country, and while it would be nice to see a bigger representation, hometown heroes Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper are a good start. Chance was slated to open for Childish Gambino's tour earlier this year before illness forced him to cancel, so the latter's set gives him an opportunity to make amends. Gambino's quirky meditations on Internet celebrity should be interesting regardless. Also look for dance-friendly blends from mash-up pioneer Z-Trip, Southern-fried crooning from ATL rapper Rich Homie Quan and guilty pleasure sing-alongs with Iggy Azalea and her megahit "Fancy." Get to Grant Park early on Sunday to check out Jhené Aiko. Her atmospheric R&B should soothe any lingering hangover.

Best Kept Secret: Don't mistake producer Gramatik for an EDM dude. He makes jazzy hip-hop loops reminiscent of Jurassic 5's Cut Chemist, and his music will appeal to every true-school head. By Mosi Reeves

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Lollapalooza for the Roots Music Fan

Sets You'll Probably Catch: North Carolina's prolific Avett Brothers have another album with super-producer Rick Rubin in the works, but that won't emerge until next year. So expect their Sunday-evening set to draw heavily from favorites like the majestic 2009 breakthrough I and Love and You and last year's smaller-scale Magpie and the Dandelion – plus maybe a wild-card cover or two along the lines of Seth Avett's cello-drenched take on Beyoncé's "Halo." Glen Hansard of Once fame will play "Falling Slowly" and other Swell Season, solo and maybe even Commitments Irish-soul tunes Sunday afternoon. And from the wilds of Florida, rising sextet Roadkill Ghost Choir will conjure up evocatively spooky late-night vibes even though they're playing at the broad-daylight hour of noon on Friday.

You Might Also Like: London's Chase & Status flavor their overdrive drum 'n' bass with old-school soul moves classic enough for roots enthusiasts. Or move it on over to the Crescent City with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, an ensemble that offers up a thoroughly modern spin on the New Orleans horn-band genre. When it comes time for a nutritional interlude, Lollapalooza Chow Town's high-cholesterol-from-the-heartland options are brought to you by the letter B: barbecue, burgers and brats. Can you pass up Bacon Sausage On A Stick? It can be had for five American dollars at Big Pork.

Best-Kept Secret: Sarah Dugas' big, booming voice always seemed a touch out of place in her previous band, eclectic-to-a-fault Canadian fusion-folk group the Duhks. No such problem in Dugas, her duo with sibling Christian Dugas, in which Sarah's voice is free to soar. By David Menconi

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Lollapalooza for the R&B Fan

Sets You'll Probably Catch: Jhené Aiko, the sweet-voiced singer, is quickly becoming a must-have featured vocalist for rappers like Drake and Big Sean. Performing on the same day as her "Bed Peace" partner Childish Gambino, it would be criminal if the rapper didn't give Lolla audiences the same opportunity to see their on-stage chemistry live as they did when she debuted at Coachella this past April. Out of this year's line-up, Aiko is the biggest name serving up classic R&B smoothness and seduction, but fellow up-and-comer Bebe Rexha, formerly of Pete Wentz project Black Cards, has been teasing some soulful tinges to her solo output. The same day as Eminem, "Monster" co-writer Rexha would be smart to familiarize yourself with and catch beforehand, just in case Rihanna is unavailable to sing the song's chorus on Friday night. Otherwise, Sunday is a heavy R&B day with Shy Girls providing intimate minimalism at the Grove before the funkier Space Capone hits the BMI stage (in an unfortunate time conflict with Aiko).

You Might Also Like: Many of this year's pop, EDM and hip-hop acts are no strangers to R&B influences. Indie-pop star Betty Who's latest EP, Slow Dancing, is swathed in smooth beats and vocals that'll get the crowd grinding late on Sunday afternoon. Arctic Monkeys, who headline on Friday, have been experimenting and maturing their sound with some old-fashioned R&B à la former tourmates the Black Keys. Producer Anna Lunoe's Nineties-inspired beats are a fine excuse to check out Perry's at noon on a Saturday. As always, new wave-y Blood Orange, known outside of his brilliant solo work for his golden touch as a producer for acts like Solange Knowles and Sky Ferreira, can provide the right amount of chill your weekend needs. When you're not basking in some rich sounds, a lobster corndog from Master Chef judge Graham Elliot might be decadent enough for your palate.

Best-Kept Secret: Oyinda, the mysterious 22-year-old singer, songwriter, and producer from Nigeria, has very little out there for the curious to explore but what is available has gained comparisons to Jessie Ware. By Brittany Spanos

 

 

 

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