Festival season is at its hot, sweaty peak, which means it can only be time for the big international bacchanal that is Lollapalooza in Chicago. There are some tough calls to be made with such a dense and eclectic lineup, so we did our best to try to plan out your weekend. Here are our suggestions on who to see when, including after the fest, although if you don’t have any tickets to this stuff or good connections, or your fence-jumping abilities are limited, you might be kind of S.O.L.
Also, if you are going, remember that it is going to be soul-destroyingly hot out there this weekend. This is in the middle of a park in Chicago in August. Stay hydrated, avoid heavy fabrics (jorts are deceptively suffocating) and look out for one another, y’all.
7 p.m. – Technically, these count as before-shows as opposed to after-shows, we guess. You could start with S.O. Terik and FILTER Magazine’s free w/RSVP party at Logan Square Auditorium, featuring a DJ set fromPassion Pit, Twin Shadow and Neon Indian or sweet, hazy jams from Philly indie weirdos Dr. Dog at Lincoln Hall. If you prefer your gigs a bit freakier, join the weirdoes at Berlin for Do312’s sideshow-themed night, featuring an actual freak show alongside Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and DJ Zebo.
1:30 p.m. – Those lucky enough to skive off work a little longer could do worse than starting their day with Michael Kiwanuka (PlayStation Stage), one of our favorite new artists and the BBC’s Sound of 2012. Grab a beer (or a more hydrating beverage), find a spot in the grass and let his Bill Withers-echoing vocal styles take you into a sunny happiness coma.
3 p.m. – Don’t stray too far from the PlayStation stage because another favorite, Sharon Van Etten,will be on after Kiwanuka. One of pop music’s most distinctive, versatile and stunning voices, Van Etten’s music is quite intimate but her vocals can grow big enough to fill Grant Park. If you need more of a pump-up after Kiwanuka, there’s also Zedd spinning at Perry’s or psych-rockers Tame Impala at the Sony stage.
4:15 p.m. – Who’s excited for a reunited Afghan Whigs? We are! If you are too, you can catch ‘em at the Red Bull stage. If not, SBTRKT will be probably be sweating under their masks and bringing the funk at the Google Play stage.
5:30 p.m. – The smaller stages sometimes get lost in the crowd and the sound bleed, but musical omnivore and Beatle royalty Dhani Harrison’s band, thenewno2, is worth a listen. His new album, thefearofmissingout, features cameos from everyone from RZA and Ben Harper to Icelandic singer Thorunn Magnusdottir.
6:30 p.m. – Oh wow. Choices. If you missed Passion Pit’s aftershow, sing along to cuts from their great new album, Gossamer, at the Bud Light stage, or head to the opposite end of the park for The Shins, who don’t tour all that often but do usually bring it live. Swing by the Sony stage for a bit of the always-enjoyable M83 after.
8 p.m. – Sure, classic rock may not be your bag and sure, seeing acts from the 1960s and ‘70s can often be a crapshoot (remember that time The Who played the Super Bowl and it was kind of awful?) and sure, they probably won’t have their original drummer, but this will probably be your last chance to see Tony Iommi destroy some of rock’s heaviest riffs. It’ll be crowded, and it may not be perfect, but you can see The Black Keys any old time so get out there and see Black Sabbath, damn it.
10 p.m. – Pretty much all the good aftershows are sold out, so be prepared to fight some people (metaphorically or in battles of wits, not really), among them Bear In Heaven at the Empty Bottle and The War On Drugs at Schubas. Due to his unfortunately being sandwiched between some other big names on Saturday, though, test your luck camping out for Frank Ocean at the Metro.
12:15 p.m. – Fight your hangover, down some mimosas and some eggs, put on all the sunscreen and catch some pretty excellent early-day acts. You could join Chicagoans at Perry’s in welcoming recent festival addition Chief Keef, the teenage hometown rap sensation who made the Internet explode with “Bang” and “I Don’t Like.” Or go with another hometown favorite, JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, a funky, brassy outfit with an excellent front man and a surprisingly wonderful cover of “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.”
3:30 p.m. – Remember that time Chairlift released a choose-your-own-ending-themed music video? That was pretty cool. Hopefully their show at the Google Play stage has that same spirit of adventure.
5 p.m. –2011 Pazz and Jop honorees tUnE-yArDs (Sony) amassed quite the following with the release of w h o k i l l last year. And multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus sounds just as captivating in person as she does on the record.
7 p.m. – Get ready to party like it’s 2004. Bloc Party heads up the Sony stage and the frenetic sing-along/dance-off that will likely occur. Mercury’s in retrograde, didn’t you know?
8 p.m. – The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Red Bull Soundstage) are a consistent live band and will put you into a ‘90s nostalgia coma, and all the house-lovin’ bros will be fist-pumping to Avicii (Bud Light Soundstage), but you’ve also got Santigold (Perry’s) and Frank Ocean (Google Play, in case you didn’t go to his after show), who both put out great albums this year. Really, we’re having trouble making a definitive call on this one. Go with your gut. They’ll all be back after the whole radius clause thing or whatever.
10 p.m. – Calvin Harris leads the fist-pumping set at The Mid for those who still can’t get his songs out of your head and Childish Gambino will bring his pop-culture-reference-packed jams to The Vic Theatre. We encourage you to go to the latter show not because of Gambino himself, but opener Chance The Rapper, a fresh local emcee who cut his first mixtape, 10Day, while suspended from school. After Chance, head over to Vision Nightclub for one of the few afterparties not yet sold out, the Steampunk Circus from Wicker Park’s infamous debauchery-on-a-school-night party, Porn ‘n’ Chicken.
1:30 p.m. – Fans of Bon Iver and Gayngs already known about Poliça (Sony), the current dreamy electro-pop project fronted by former Gayngs singer Channy Leanagh. Ease into your last day of the festival and get lost in Leanagh’s voice.
2:15 p.m. – I know, I know. Bluegrass isn’t everyone’s thing, but Trampled By Turtles (Red Bull Soundstage)are quite fun live. Be sure you’re not too hung over for a good stomping.
3:15 p.m. – A surprisingly tough call for midday between Little Dragon (Perry’s), Dum Dum Girls (Google Play) and Gary Clark Jr. (PlayStation). Also, some really sexy jams for, like, 3 in the afternoon, but alright. Based on YouTube first impressions of their live shows, all of them are quite good—go with Gary Clark Jr., but if the whole resurgence of blues-rock isn’t your thing, then probably Dum Dum Girls.
4 p.m. – I once had a roommate who said it was his dream in life to drop acid and go see Sigur Rós (Red Bull Soundstage). I don’t know where he is now, or if he fulfilled that dream, but you certainly can. And should. We’d endorse seeing them for sure, but maybe without the hallucinogens.
5:15 p.m. – Malian dynamic duo Amadou & Mariam (PlayStation)released one of the best albums of 2012, featuring shimmering blues-rock collaborations with the likes of Theophilus London, Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters and Bertrand Cantat. Perfect music for sitting and relaxing with the now warm booze you smuggled in, but if the spirit moves you, it’s alright to get up and dance.
6 p.m. – It’s all about the anthems and what kind of anthems you’re into. On opposite ends of the park, you have reunited hardcore stalwarts in At The Drive-In (Red Bull) and on the other, Florence & The Machine (Bud Light) cranking out the best guilty-pleasure adult contemporary sing-a-longs this side of Coldplay. Given that Florence tours fairly regularly and the novelty of the ATDI reunion, we’d go with the former, but they’ll both probably be fun. Icelandic outfit Of Monsters and Men will be holding it down at the Google Play stage, so try to catch them in between acts if you’re en route.
8 p.m. – The last night is all about the dancing, as evidenced by electronic headliners Justice (Bud Light)and Chicago-based house DJ Kaskade headlining Perry’s. On the opposite end of the field at Red Bull, the mods and rockers will come together for Jack White, usually an engaging performer and sitting atop a pile of new material from Blunderbuss, blistering and catchy alike. Definitely choose the latter if you’re too hot, hung-over or exhausted to dance.
10 p.m. – So members of Wolf Parade, Spoon and New Bomb Turks started a supergroup and called it Divine Fits, and they’re bringing their synth-packed sound to Schubas alongside Bare Mutants. If Chairlift’s short festival set wasn’t enough for you, they headline the Empty Bottle.