Tens of thousands of music fans are, as we type, passing through Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports on a pilgramage to Grant Park for Lollapalooza 2011. After a torrid month of July in the Windy City, the weather forecast is calling for sunny temperatures in the low eighties for most of the weekend, which is perfect festival-going weather; there is a chance of isolated thunderstorms on Sunday, though. Still, what’s a little rain when you have over 150 of the world’s best bands and DJs all gathered within 1.2 square kilometers of each other?
As we have explained for you in the past at Coachella and Bonnaroo, festival-going is all about making tough decisions. At any given time this weekend, upwards of six acts will be performing simultaneously, and some of these overlaps are bound to involve bands that you care about equally. Sadly, because of the sheer size of the park (319 acres, yo) and the amount of people on the grounds, waffling on your decisions could lead you to missing both acts. So, in the interest of being as service-y as possible, we’re putting the spotlight on five of these potential conflicts and arming you with as much information as possible to help you make an educated decision.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 5
Foster The People (3-4 p.m.) OR Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (2:30-3:30 p.m.)?
Right at the time when most people will first be entering the festival grounds for the weekend comes our first tough decision as two of our You Oughta Know alums are going head-to-head. Foster The People have the #1 alternative song on the Billboard charts at the moment (“Pumped Up Kicks”), while Grace Potter and her Nocturnals are seasoned festival performers who lean on heavy riffs (and Potter’s famously long legs). This is a toughie, but based on their highly buzzed about “breakthrough performance” at Coachella this past April, we’re going to suggest you check out Mark Foster and his People as they perform to what will surely be their largest audience to date.
Oh boy. Decisions like this are why we’re glad we’re not going to Coachella this year¹. Coldplay and Muse are two of the biggest bands in the world these days, and with their experience headlining prior festivals, both are equally able to step their game up a notch when they know that 50,000+ people will be watching their sets. You can’t go wrong either way, but we’re giving the edge to Coldplay here, mainly because they have been road testing a bunch of new material off of their forthcoming LP to ecstatic reviews. When they drop “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall,” Grant Park is gonna go INSANE. (And if you can’t be there, Coldplay’s performance will be livestreamed on youtube.com/lollapalooza.)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 6
Fitz & The Tantrums (2:30-3:30 p.m.) OR Friendly Fires (2:15-3 p.m.)?
Two wildly divergent musical styles will collide on Saturday afternoon when these two acts take the stage at the same time. With their rave rock sound, the Friendly Fires are the kind of outfit that sounds even better when you’re bouncing around to it next to a few thousand of your closest friends. Fitz and the Tantrums, on the other hand, are stone cold professionals whose retro soul sound will resonate especially well in a town like Chicago, where blues and soul music runs in everyone’s blood. Advantage Fitz.
My Morning Jacket (8-10 p.m.) OR Eminem (8:30-10 p.m.)?
There isn’t a lot of crossover between My Morning Jacket’s hippy fanbase and Eminem’s tribe of hip hop heads, which probably played at least a small part in Perry Farrell‘s decision to schedule these guys at the same time. We love us Eminem, and Bad Meets Evil is one of our fave LPs of the year, but we’re less than enamored with Em’s live performances. After a long day in the sun, we recommend you find a little patch of grass close enough to MMJ’s stage where you can sit, watch the sunset over Lake Michigan, and chill out to Jim James and crew’s alternately mellow and balls-out rockin’ sound.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 7
Deadmau5 (8:30-10) OR Foo Fighters (8-10)?
As the festival wraps to a close on Sunday night, what do you want your last memory to be? The Foo Fighters are an excellent choice to close out the festival, no doubt; they’ve been around since 1995 and they have more hit singles than we have fingers and toes. However, the fact that they’ve been around since 1995 AND have so many familiar songs could be viewed as a detriment, too. After all, there’s a pretty strong chance that the Foos will be headlining a festival like this again sometime in the next few years (if not playing a show in your town). So, we’re going to recommend that you instead check out Deadmau5, who just so happens to be Snooki’s favorite DJ. There aren’t many opportunities to get lost in house music with 50,000+ people pulsating around you, so you should take advantage of it while you can (particularly if you have access to something stronger than beer).
There you have it, folks! Remember, be safe, have fun, and despite what we told you above, there are no wrong decisions when you’re at Lollapalooza!
¹ At least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves so that we don’t keel over in jealousy of our friends who ARE going.