Poor ticket sales may have convinced concert promoters to nix the all-out nationwide tour, but Lollapalooza's two-day fest in Chicago (July 23-24) is one aural orgy that's totally worth a road trip. Just be sure to fend off the yen for the Windy City's deep-dish pizza until after these acts haul it off stage:
Older, yes, but they can still kick your ass. Just speak with anybody who's caught one of their recent reunion shows. The mania is still in full effect -- Frank Black's howls are just as exclamatory now as they were back in the day - and the band is tighter than ever.
They're Las Vegas boys, but you're forgiven if you think the "Mr. Brightside" rockers hail from London. All those classy, retro-synth riffs, all those momentous beats, and all those eerie songs can fool you. After they romp the Lolla stage, they're off to open for U2 overseas.
Rivers Cuomo and his buds first stormed the stage in the '90s donning backwards baseball caps and Buddy Holly glasses--proving for the first time since Cheap Trick that garage rock and intellect can co-exist in a three-minute hit. Their recent Make Believe is yet another step forward in the eloquence department. Long live geek-chic.
From the echoes of Southern rock to the army of faithful followers to the longevity factor (15 albums churned out and 25 years of road dogging), they're about as jam band as it gets: Still burning strong but never burning out. Here's one group Papa Jerry G. would be proud of.
Les Claypool's loopy outfit brilliantly turned the alt-world on its collective ear in the '90s with their punk-funking, bass-slapping, envelope-pushing originality. The boss has been into solo projects lately -- check his Bucket of Bernie Brains disc -- so the Primus "reunion" smells like an event. Extra credit for having graced the '93 Lolla stage.
It's been almost exactly two years since the release of A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, and Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst has kinda/sorta taken the spot once held by Mr. Dashboard, Chris Carrabba. Does pop have room for two catchy, cathartic folk-emo geniuses? This could be a comeback gig for Carrabba, a place to give one of those patented passionate performances.
Indie kids love 'em, NPR loves 'em, The O.C. loves 'em, David Byrne loves 'em -- what more do you want? 2005's buzz band is a Montreal outfit with a knack for making mildly dramatic tunes that, at least on their chilling Funeral, are also evocative as hell. Onstage, that drama is unmistakable.
He might have a few wrinkles, but Idol's also got a deliciously bad attitude and a decent rebel yell. Check his new Devil's Playground for proof that some middle agers can still sneer convincingly. This year's Lolla gig gives us a chance to shake a fist with a punk-pop veteran.
Rising slow and steady from indie buzz band to major label, these masters of melancholy make songs both powerful and beautiful. Boss Ben Gibbard isn't morbid per se, but the music is about as cute as a Dostoyevsky novel; they might creat the most poignant, reflective set of the entire party.
Fusing jazz, funk, and pop into very smart, very loose hip-hop, the Planets made the early '90s a cool, cool place to be. This weekend's gig is the trio's first show together in nine years. Nice to see Doodlebug, Ladybug, and Butterfly back in the mix -- hope they're still cool like dat.
She spearheaded the alt-rock revolution with the lo-fi classic Exile In Guyville, but 2003's self-titled affair had a decidedly polished pop sheen. Liz wants the success she deserves. Taking the stage in her former home base, she's bound to knock out some songs from her forthcoming disc. We'll follow her wherever she goes.
Cypress Hill's soundscape dude is a cagey experimentalist. Working with the Goodie Mob, KRS-One and Wu Tang Clan, the producer is one of the guys who helped make the recent mash-up phenomenon so appealing.
Calling Austin home automatically places them in the cool category. But it's the way Britt Daniel lines his imaginative indie tunes with mainstream building blocks that makes them so impressive. Spoon's a best-of-both-worlds outfit, and their new Gimme Fiction is one of the summer's buzz albums.
These 23-year-old Canadian twins turn your head by working a nifty folk-punk nexus. During the '90s they helped define the D-I-Y movement by earning fans the old-fashioned way: they'd rock the house, and then sell a bit of merch and CDs from their cars after the shows. Neil Young's Vapor Records signed 'em, and they rose to the occasion with the impressive disc, So Jealous. From indie to major, from Lillith to Lolla: wonder twin powers activate!
Named after the driver of Charles Manson's getaway car, the band concocted their songs commune-style in a rural English farmhouse. Suffice it to say they're a bit on the dark side. But the shadowy seclusion allowed them to mastermind a brilliant concoction of innovative dance-rock that echoes the Stones, Primal Scream, and even DJ Shadow. This is one powerful potion best ingested live.