Starting Friday (August 3), the concert-going masses will slather on the sunscreen, gird their loins in moisture-wick underwear and descend on Chicago for the granddaddy of U.S. summer fests, Lollapalooza.
Yes, ever since it brought Alternative Nation to the masses way back in 1991 (and not counting the six-year hiatus it took between 1997 and 2003), Lolla has been a rite of passage for music fans from all over the world and, in recent years, though it has seen increased competition in the summer season, its influence — and scope — have only continued to grow. It was one of the first major festivals to embrace dance music, showcasing some of EDM's brightest stars, including Skrillex, Bassnectar, Afrojack and Pretty Lights. It has also expanded to South America, where massively successful spinoffs have staked turf in Chile and Brazil.
Meanwhile, back in the States, Lolla organizers have assembled a 2012 lineup that runs the gamut from meat-and-potatoes rock (headliners the Black Keys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White, etc.) and adventurous electronic music (M83, Porter Robinson, Skream & Benga, Justice) to much-buzzed-about newcomers (Frank Ocean, the Weeknd, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs) and returning indie elite (Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, the recharged Afghan Whigs). There's plenty to see and, of course, MTV News will be on the ground in Chicago, bringing you live reports, behind-the-scenes photos and interviews with all your favorite acts.
So, in preparation for what's shaping up to be another epic edition of Lollapalooza, here's a look at some acts that we can't wait to check out ... and hopefully, we'll be watching them alongside you on Central Time (be on the lookout for James Montgomery; he'll be the gangly white dude in the glasses). We've packed our bags and purchased some SPF 9000 so now, let's rock.
Tame Impala (Friday, 3:15 p.m.): These Australian psych-rockers have been melting our minds ever since they released 2010's Innerspeak, and their upcoming follow-up, Lonerism, promises to only continue that trip (at least if first single "Elephant" is to be believed). We're willing to brave the midday heat to hear what else they've cooked up in the lab.
Passion Pit (Friday, 6 p.m.): Not only is their new Gossamer album one of the year's best, but given frontman Michael Angelakos's recent mental-health issues (which have led to band to cancel nearly all> of their tour dates), their Lolla set may be the only time in the near future you'll be able to see them. Get well soon, Mike.
Black Sabbath (Friday, 8:05 p.m.): Sure, they might not be touring with original drummer Bill Ward (c'mon Ozzy!), but any chance we get to check out the godfathers of bludgeoning, brute-force metal, we're gonna take it. And given that this is their only U.S. date in 2012, their Friday-night headlining slot is an official can't miss.
The Weeknd (Saturday, 6 p.m.): Ever since appearing on the radar last year with a trio of excellent (and free!) albums, Abel Tesfaye has haunted R&B like a ghost, making only a handful of live appearances. Despite that, his influence over the current morose, minimal era of the genre is undeniable, and we can't wait to see how his artfully abstract songs come off in person.
Bloc Party (Saturday, 7 p.m.): Back after a two-year hiatus, these criminally underrated art-rockers have a new album coming down the pipeline (it's called Four) and they've been shaking off the rust with a run of fest shows. Have they still got the old magic? We'll just have to wait and see (though, c'mon, you know they do).
Frank Ocean (Saturday, 8:45 p.m.): Over the past year, no one's risen quite as fast as VMA-nominated Ocean has, and that has very little to do with recent revelations about his personal life. His Channel Orange album is one of 2012's finest, and his Lolla set is shaping up to be one of fest's highlights ... especially if reports of recent live gigs are to be believed.
Justice (Sunday, 8:30 p.m.): Theirs is a sound tailor-made to massive spaces so, appropriately, they're closing the fest with a headlining set on Sunday. And we're sure it's going to be monumental, featuring plenty of big beats, bright lights and balls-to-the-wall energy, all of which has turned them into a colossally popular live act. What better way to end Lollapalooza than with some sensory overload?
Childish Gambino (Sunday, 8:45 p.m.): He's on opposite Justice, which shows you just how far 2012 Best Hip-Hop Video nominee Donald Glover has come in a few short years. His rhymes are tight-fitting, his shorts above the knee and his performances off the cuff. Gambino may still not get mainstream love, but his fans know what he's all about, and his Lolla set could serve as his coming-out party for the masses.
MTV News is at Lollapalooza slathering on the sunscreen! Stick with us for the best festival coverage, as we bring you up-to-the-minute access to the shows, performers and more.