Our guide to Lollapalooza 2014 

Thirty-two Reader-approved acts to help you choose among the festival's eight stages every hour of every day

In the years since Lollapalooza became a destination festival in 2005, organizers C3 Presents have perfected a formula for success. The fest's tenure in Grant Park has outlasted its original seven-year run as an alt-rock package tour, and three-day passes to the 2014 version were all snapped up in March, before the lineup was even made public. Single-day passes became available a few days later, after the lineup announcement, and they were gone within two hours. At this point the only kinds of Lollapalooza tickets not totally sold out are the three-day Platinum Pass and two flavors of travel package, which include hotel stays (if you have to ask how much they cost, you can't afford them). Not bad for a festival with a daily capacity of 100,000—roughly the population of South Bend, Indiana.

Many of the people who threw down $250 for a three-day pass were surely returning customers, looking forward to partying in Grant Park no matter who happened to be onstage. I hope for their sake they didn't have buyer's remorse once the lineup came out. Lollapalooza scored big with OutKast, but the reunited ATLiens are headlining night two, not closing down the festival like they should—on Sunday they'll be in Toronto playing Drake's OVO Fest instead. Every one of the other five headliners—Eminem, Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, and Kings of Leon—has played Lollapalooza in the past five years. Among them, only Eminem really has the star power to headline a U.S. festival of this size (sorry, Arctic Monkeys; I'm sure you do much better at home). And though Lollapalooza has long been synonymous with alternative rock, neither of the two rock bands at the top of the bill is the better choice to end the night. I'll take Skrillex over Kings of Leon any day.

Further down the roster, the lineup is more varied and interesting. The festival's eight stages, spread out across most of Grant Park, play host to 130 acts, including the lightning-­rod chart topper of the moment (Iggy Azalea), a band of punk lifers (AFI), a few recent Pitchfork festival alumni (Parquet Courts, Blood Orange, Run the Jewels), and some talented locals the Reader has been championing for ages (Flosstradamus, Into It. Over It., Vic Mensa, Chance the Rapper). It's impossible to catch everything worthwhile—I'm especially bummed to see Brooklyn rockers Parquet Courts scheduled against New York hip-hop group Ratking—but the Reader crew has put together an itinerary of 32 acts that ought to maximize your ratio of "good music seen" to "total time spent in the park." Leor Galil

For information on transit, accessibility, re-entry policies, festival wristbands, prohibited items, nonmusical attractions, Chow Town vendors, and more, visit lollapalooza​.com.

Friday, August 1

KYLE DEAN REINFORD
  • Kyle Dean Reinford

12:15-1:00 | San Fermin |Palladia Stage

Not long after graduating from Yale University with a degree in music composition in 2011, Ellis Ludwig-Leone retreated to the Canadian Rockies and wrote a 17-song suite, which ended up on the self-titled debut album by San Fermin, released in September of last year by Downtown Records. In some ways he was working like a classical composer—as he wrote, he didn't have an ensemble to play his music or even specific musicians in mind—but San Fermin is unmistakably a sophisticated pop-rock record, its operatic grandeur and contrapuntal complexity notwithstanding. Ludwig-Leone plays keyboards, but otherwise the elegantly melodic music is brought to life by a highly skilled cast he assembled. At times the steeplechase vocal arrangements recall the Dirty Projectors, and the lush, corkscrewing orchestrations suggest Van Dyke Parks with his sensibilities updated for the present century. Also Sat 8/2 at Schubas, $18, 18+. Peter Margasak

JAMES LOVEDAY
  • James Loveday

1:00-1:45 | Temples | Bud Light Stage

Noel Gallagher of Oasis always has a lot to say, and one of the things he's been saying a lot over the past year or so is that Temples is one of the best bands on the planet. He's been so busy talking up these British psych-rock revivalists that he claims it's distracted him from re-forming Oasis. Temples and Oasis are clearly cut from the same cloth (the Beatles love is strong in both), but Temples' songs are pushier and jumpier—and on their first full-length, this year's Sun Structures, they deploy a dizzyingly diverse palette of richly colorful, acid-soaked 60s sounds. Also Thu 7/31 at Subterranean, sold out, 17+. Luca Cimarusti

COURTESY HIGH ROAD TOURING
  • Courtesy High Road Touring

1:45-2:45 | Lucius | Palladia Stage

Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig define Lucius with their terrific voices and the terrific way they blend. I first heard the two of them in San Fermin's sophisticated art-pop (see above), where they sang as hired guns; on their debut with Lucius, last year's Wildewoman (Mom + Pop), their harmonies wend through fairly standard but well-played contemporary indie-pop. They transcend that generic template by using a variety of vocal approaches: prewar pop a la the Andrews Sisters, classic Brill Building brio, the clever braided melodies of the Roches. Whether gently shading each other or opening the throttle wide, Wolfe and Laessig never falter—here's hoping they start writing songs worthy of their sparkling, graceful voices. Also Sat 8/2 at Lincoln Hall, sold out, 18+. Peter Margasak

ROSANNE WEBSTER
  • Rosanne Webster

2:30-3:30 | Bombay Bicycle Club | Samsung Galaxy Stage

On their fourth album, this year's So Long, See You Tomorrow (Island), London four-piece Bombay Bicycle Club have settled into an aughties indie version of AOR rock. Its poppy songs are punchy but gentle, with interesting detours into bordering territories: "Come To" cozies up to fuzzy, starlit shoegaze, "Carry Me" mixes in stuttering, menacing electro, and "Feel" approximates the flavor of Paul Simon's Graceland. The band deploys these elements sparingly, but even a little is enough to give these sweet, sleek tunes a kick. Also Fri 8/1 at Bottom Lounge, sold out, 17+. Leor Galil

MIA KIRBY
  • Mia Kirby

3:30-4:30 | Warpaint | Lake Shore Stage

On Warpaint's first long-player, 2010's The Fool, grand strokes of bravado explode from the limber rhythmic skeletons of dark, slow-burning postpunk songs. Four years later, the four women in this Los Angeles-based band have finally delivered a follow-up, a self-titled album that strips down their Joy Division-tinged formula till it's downright minimalist. They patiently weave somber, delicate structures and moods, casting an unbroken spell. The lack of bombast on Warpaint means it won't bowl you over right away, but once it gets its hooks in you, they're hard to tear out. Luca Cimarusti

COURTESY LOLLAPALOOZA
  • Courtesy Lollapalooza

4:45-5:30 | Blood Orange | The Grove

Dev Hynes is only 28, but he already has a resumé many pop veterans would envy. He played in the short-lived and hyped-up Test Icicles, he was the main dude behind Lightspeed Champion, and he's written and produced for a bevy of big-name pop and dance artists, including Solange Knowles, the Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, and Kylie Minogue (he even made an ill-fated attempt to collaborate with Britney Spears). But it's as Blood Orange that Hynes sounds most at home. The smooth, minimal, slightly funky tracks on last year's Cupid Deluxe (Domino) are confident but introspective. He delivers his lush melodies in a lofty croon a la Prince, backed on most songs by guest vocalists, among them Chairlift's Caroline Polachek and Friends' Samantha Urbani; the yearning harmonies they create tug at the heartstrings a bit, but Blood Orange never gets as bleak as most other dark R&B outfits (such as, say, the Weeknd). Hynes executes everything so flawlessly that even the slap bass that pops up here and there on Cupid Deluxe sounds great. Also Thu 7/31 at the Empty Bottle, sold out, 21+. Luca Cimarusti

ELIOT LEE HAZEL
  • ELIOT LEE HAZEL

5:30-6:30 | Chvrches | Lake Shore Stage

With their hypercolor beats and high-gloss synths, Scottish trio Chvrches make glitzy synth-pop whose dazzle initially seems almost too bright. But dig into last year's The Bones of What You Believe (Virgin/Goodbye) and let its geared-up sound swirl around you, and soon the lyrics will gravitate to the foreground. Lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry, a tiny force of nature, can be grim and cryptic: on "We Sink," she sings, "I'll be the thorn in your side till you die / I'll be the thorn in your side for always." Fun. Also Thu 7/31 at the Vic, sold out, 18+. Kevin Warwick

CHARLES HOWELLS
  • Charles Howells

6:45-7:45 | Lorde | Bud Light Stage

The most striking thing about Lorde's supernatural breakout debut, 2013's Pure Heroine, is that she's flanked by minimal, grumbling electro beats but still sounds completely alone. The New Zealand teenager's conviction is so absolute that her voice seems to swallow up what's happening around her, like a kind of beautiful, delicate black hole. (Onstage, though, she tends to fragment your attention with jarring, gyrating dance moves.) Pure Heroine still sounds electric, even after all the Grammy nominations and multiplatinum hubbub of "Royals"—and if you think that song has lost any of its luster since you first fell for it, you must not have experienced it live, with the early-evening sky painted bright with color above the Chicago skyline. Kevin Warwick

JOSH OLINS
  • Josh Olins

7:30-8:30 | Lykke Li | Lake Shore Stage

On her new album, I Never Learn (LL/Atlantic), Swedish singer Lykke Li sings about a painful breakup, and though it's her second straight release to address it—song titles include "Never Gonna Love Again" and "Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone"—there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel this time. I Never Learn is dominated by bittersweet, richly dramatic ballads on which her voice sounds stronger and more honeyed than ever, and the production of regular collaborator Bjorn Yttling (of Peter Bjorn and John) provides larger gestures fit for larger stages. This means that many of the pleasantly quirky touches from previous records—girl-group harmonies, ersatz tribal drumming, Brill Building melodies—have been removed, but in exchange the music gains a new, heightened focus that feels like an important progression. Peter Margasak

TIMOTHY SACCENTI
  • Timothy Saccenti

8:45-9:45 | Phantogram | The Grove

More than four years elapsed between Phantogram's 2009 full-length debut, Eyelid Movies, and the recent Voices (Republic), but the New York electro duo stayed omnipresent during that downtime thanks to the 2011 EP Nightlife and the hypnotic single "When I'm Small." You've probably heard an edit of the song that features Sarah Barthel's soft owl-call vocal, whether you know it or not—it appeared in an episode of Skins and in a few commercials, including for Gillette and Canon. Voices sounds more grown-up than its predecessor, particularly in Barthel's newly foregrounded singing; it's divided into harsh, buzzing hip-hop beats, ambient synth washes, and electro-­tinted indie rock (plus a few attempts at re-creating "When I'm Small"). If you want a trippy light show and some hazy dancing tonight, not a potentially disgruntled Marshall Mathers, this is the late-Friday Lollapalooza set for you. Kevin Warwick

Saturday, August 2

PETER LUEDERS
  • Peter Lueders

Noon-12:30 | Jon Batiste & Stay Human | The Grove

Pianist and bandleader Jon Batiste, a New Orleans native now based in New York, is a boundlessly talented prodigy, and on his 2013 album Social Music (Razor & Tie) he seems hell-bent on showing off his range. The scion of a musical family that's long had an outsize presence in Crescent City jazz, Batiste leads his nimble band, Stay Human, in a breathless rush through rock, soul, ragtime, gospel, jazz, folk-rock, blues, and more (including an overblown solo-piano reimagining of the national anthem). By the time it's over, I haven't gotten much sense of his musical personality, unless you count the suspicion that he may have a short attention span. I assume Batiste and company stretch out live, but on the album they don't linger long enough on anything for it to sink in. Peter Margasak

MAX NORTON
  • Max Norton

12:50-1:30 | Benjamin Booker | The Grove

Tampa native Benjamin Booker is 24 years old and started playing music only a couple years ago, but he just opened two Chicago shows for Jack White—and now here he is at Lollapalooza. Booker's self-titled debut on ATO has a raw, primitive edge that he'll probably outgrow with time, but for now at least his scrappy, flailing protopunk guitar and raspy, strained vocals benefit from the lack of polish. Most of the songs are mad dashes toward the finish line, but a couple suggest he has more to offer: the grimy, organ-drenched "Slow Coming" sounds like something from Stax, and "Have You Seen My Son?" (told from the perspective of an evangelical praying for his son's salvation) suggests a broken-down CCR channeling Hendrix. Peter Margasak

ARI MARCOPOULOS
  • ARI MARCOPOULOS

1:50-2:30 | Ratking | The Grove

When NPR premiered Ratking's So It Goes (Hot Charity/XL) in March, writer Timmhotep Aku said that it "might be the most 'New York' hip-hop project released in years." A bold statement, but I don't disagree—the trio's refined noise reminds me of the blur of color and sound outside the window of an express train rocketing through NYC. The constantly morphing instrumentals by producer Sporting Life are equally menacing and soulful, and even when he tones things down they're arresting. MC Wiki bobs and weaves through the beats with finesse, while rapper-singer Hak coasts on a spiritual groove—and when everything comes together, like it does on the psychedelic "Snow Beach" and the dramatic "Canal," it's magical. Also Thu 7/31 at Empty Bottle with headliners Blood Orange (see Friday), sold out, 21+, and Sat 8/2 at Double Door with headliners Run the Jewels (see Sunday), sold out, 21+. Leor Galil

JACOB DEKAT
  • Jacob Dekat

2:45-3:45 | Kate Nash | Bud Light Stage

Britpop singer Kate Nash made a name for herself with the catchy hooks and quiet confidence of her 2007 debut, Made of Bricks. That album still gets my toe tapping every time, but 2013's Girl Talk (Ingrooves) goes beyond reliable—it's got some of Nash's best songs to date. (And good thing too, because it doesn't take long for "reliable" to become "boring.") "Sister" in particular underlines her recent move from piano pop to heavy guitar riffs and harsh, angry vocals; between Girl Talk and its predecessor, 2010's My Best Friend Is You, someone must have really pissed her off, and we get to reap the rewards. There are a few straightforward pop songs—the lead single, "3AM," is a cutesy dance hit—but even on those, Nash puts a lot more heart behind every word she sings. Also Fri 8/1 at City Winery, $25, all-ages. Brianna Wellen

COURTESY LOLLAPALOOZA
  • Courtesy Lollapalooza

4:00-4:45 | Rich Homie Quan | The Grove

Atlanta produced its share of rap anthems last year, but none as enthralling as Rich Homie Quan's insanely catchy trap banger "Type of Way." Its simplistic surface hides seriously ambiguous undertones—that is, exactly what type of way is Quan talking about? Urban Dictionary (as reputable a source as exists on the subject) suggests feelings of anger, happiness, sadness, horniness, boredom, and spitefulness, and Quan's lyrics are similarly multi­farious—maybe "Type of Way" just refers to a weird mixture of emotions that defies definition but always seems to bubble up at the right moment. Or maybe not. The song is great in any case, and Quan's got more than few other heaters up his sleeve. Drew Hunt

COURTESY LOLLAPALOOZA
  • Courtesy Lollapalooza

4:30-5:10 | Wallpaper. | BMI Stage

I'll always love Wallpaper. main man Ricky Reed for his irresistible 2009 remix of Das Racist's "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," which underlined the song's absurd, wasted-in-the-wee-hours euphoria and crystallized its dumb-but-­brilliant hook in a shimmering piece of pop magic. Since then Reed has headed down his own big, dumb pop path. Last year's Ricky Reed Is Real (Boardwalk/Epic) combines EDM's skull-crushing bass, hashtag rap's punch-line flows, pop-rock's straightforward guitar melodies, and Top 40's saccharine vocal flourishes to celebrate reckless youth and drunken excess. He can spin idiotic lyrics into pop gold: on "Puke My Brains Out" he raps, "Man I can't think straight / Gotta get my brains outside of my face." Leor Galil

ANDREW THOMAS LEE
  • Andrew Thomas Lee

5:15-6:15 | Manchester Orchestra | Lake Shore Stage

Atlanta dudes Manchester Orchestra have been playing straightforward, perfectly enjoyable rock for nearly a decade. Their first album, 2006's I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child, remains their best—it's dark and bruising, and it balances hearty head-banging fuel against a few hushed ballads reminiscent of 90s Radiohead. Their albums since then have been less cohesive, but there are still jams to be found, and some of them—including "Simple Math," "Shake It Out," "I've Got Friends," and "Top Notch," the lead single from this spring's Cope (Loma Vista)—ought to sound great live. Drew Hunt

NABIL ELDERKIN
  • Nabil Elderkin

5:45-6:45 | Nas | Palladia Stage

New York hip-hop icon Nas has a reputation as an inconsistent live performer. In a review of his set at this year's Hot 97 Summer Jam, New York Times pop critic Jon Caramanica wrote that Nas used a teleprompter for tunes from Illmatic—his landmark debut, whose 20th anniversary he was celebrating (Sony Legacy reissued it earlier this year with bonus material). When I saw him at North Coast last summer, he skipped some lines in his Illmatic material but still carried himself like a king, smiling as fans belted out the words to "Life's a Bitch." Most legacy acts try to present their classic albums in tidily wrapped packages, so when Nas gets lost in his own verses—and still looks happy to be there—it's actually sort of refreshing. Also Sun 8/3 at House of Blues, sold out, 17+. Leor Galil

AUTUMN DE WILDE
  • Autumn De Wilde

6:45-8:00 | Spoon | Bud Light Stage

The new They Want My Soul, due Tuesday from Loma Vista, is Spoon's first new album in four years—during which time the group's front man, Britt Daniel, started touring with a second band, Divine Fits. But Spoon hasn't suffered from Daniel's divided attention: it maintains its masterful ear for dynamics, meticulously balancing blue-eyed soul and twitchy, minimalist postpunk. Quite a few of the new songs use beefed-up beats that seem designed for club remixes, including the 80s-style retro synth jam "New York Kiss" and the hyperactive, shuffling "Outlier," but even those relatively commercial numbers have all the controlled cool and terse hooks that have made Spoon one of the most dependable creative forces in indie rock for two decades now. The harp-kissed "Inside Out" is one of the band's loveliest tunes, with some of Daniel's most assured singing, and "The Rent I Pay" injects Stones-style swagger into the group's bone-dry attack. Also Fri 8/1 at Metro, sold out, 18+. Peter Margasak

AUTUMN DE WILDE
  • Autumn de Wilde

7:45-8:30 | Jenny Lewis | The Grove

Jenny Lewis hasn't acted regularly since she was 19, but before her band Rilo Kiley took off in the early aughts, she played a bit part in a 1987 episode of The Golden Girls, costarred in the 1996 girl-gang grunge fantasia Foxfire (opposite Angelina Jolie), and appeared in a 1990 Perry Mason TV movie, among many other things. In her songwriting, you can still feel her actorly talent for living in other peoples' skins and refusing to recognize the limits of her own—her best tunes with Rilo Kiley and as a solo performer, including "Portions for Foxes," "Rise Up With Fists!!," and "Next Messiah," combine acid-tongued autobiography and complex characterization. On "Just One of the Guys," a breezy, stomping ode to middle-­aged singledom from her new solo album, The Voyager (Warner Brothers), our heroine's biological clock might be ticking like a bomb, but thankfully she refuses to break, pray, or pay—the three unacceptable options she sees. On her tour in support of the new album, her first in six years, Lewis has also been playing a smattering of older jams, including a Rilo Kiley classic or two. Also Fri 8/1 at Park West, sold out, 18+. J.R. Nelson

GETTY IMAGES FOR FIREFLY MUSIC FESTIVAL
  • Getty Images for Firefly Music Festival

8:15-10:00 | OutKast | Samsung Galaxy Stage

This year's big reunion is OutKast, the ATLiens who helped train hip-hop's spotlight on the south with 1994's Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. Andre 3000 and Big Boi released a steady stream of sun-soaked, eccentrically funky albums, reaching the highest peaks of pop before fading quietly away in the mid-aughts (well, the mid-aughts if you forget about the soundtrack to their anachronistic 2006 rap musical, Idlewild, which most people have). OutKast never officially called it quits, which might be part of the reason their chemistry remains so strong—by the time I saw them at Summerfest in Milwaukee last month, they'd fine-tuned their live set till it felt more like a party than a performance. Dre is hardly thrilled to do "Hey Ya!," but OutKast can make up for that (and then some) by performing the UGK collaboration "Int'l Players Anthem." Leor Galil

Sunday, August 3

JAKE NILES GETTER
  • Jake Niles Getter

Noon-12:40 | Plastic Visions | BMI Stage

Plastic Visions are a side project of Cage the Elephant guitarist Brad Shultz. His main band regularly fills theaters with its eclectic rock 'n' roll (there's a Cage the Elephant album called Live From the Vic in Chicago), so these guys have probably earned an indulgence or two apiece. Punkier and noisier than CtE, Plastic Visions are at their best when vocalist Kane Stewart doesn't crank up the "rock 'n' roll" personality till it comes off as lame, like he does on the over-the-top "Kamikaze" (from their self-titled debut EP, released last year on Shultz's Death Panda label). Plastic Visions do much better when they shoot for a grungy sound with a Weezer-like pop sensibility, taking full advantage of Shultz's knack for writing arena-ready choruses. Kevin Warwick

GETTY IMAGES FOR BET
  • Getty Images for BET

12:45-1:30 | Jhene Aiko | Samsung Galaxy Stage

Neosoul singer Jhene Aiko has gotten cosigns from some of the heaviest hitters in rap and R&B (Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Drake), and she's poised to make a name for herself. Her forthcoming debut LP, Souled Out (Def Jam/Artium), will feature multiple tracks with legendary Chicago producer No I.D., who's been known to launch a career or two. Aiko's breezy yet subtly sultry voice is best suited for minimalist, 808s & Heartbreak-esque beats, which she proves on "Bed Peace," a standout track from her recent Sail Out EP. Also Sat 8/2 at Reggie's Rock Club, sold out, 18+. Drew Hunt

COURTESY LOLLAPALOOZA
  • Courtesy Lollapalooza

1:30-2:15 | Bleachers | Lake Shore Stage

With its jittery new-wave pastiche, this solo venture by Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff should provide enough of a jolt to reanimate even the most worn-out Lolla warriors after a late Saturday night. Bleachers' debut, Strange Desire (RCA), is by turns self-searching and triumphant, full of shout-along choruses that give Antonoff's reverent take on modern rock a 21st-century edge ("Shadow," "Like a River Runs"). Also Sun 8/3 at Lincoln Hall, $22, 18+. Maura Johnston

COURTESY PARADIGM AGENCY
  • Courtesy Paradigm Agency

2:15-3:00 | White Denim | Samsung Galaxy Stage

Austin's White Denim are in love with being weird. They're all over the genre map—prog rock, southern twang, Stevie Wonder—and they wear their many influences like a tuxedo and top hat. That said, beneath the glaring sheen of eclecticism, their most recent album, Corsicana Lemonade (coproduced by Jeff Tweedy and released by Downtown), is classic rock more than anything else—its parched, rolling-tumbleweed air and stompin' guitar licks might just summon your inner Ronnie Van Zant. Also Sat 8/2 at the Empty Bottle, sold out, 21+. Kevin Warwick

COURTESY LOLLAPALOOZA
  • Courtesy Lollapalooza

2:45-3:45 | Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue | Bud Light Stage

New Orleans brass prodigy Trombone Shorty (aka Troy Andrews) strips down his sound on his most recent album, Say That to Say This (Verve)—unlike his previous record, it's just hard-hitting, rock-saturated R&B and funk, with no looped rhythms and no unfortunate Kid Rock cameo. Andrews even orchestrated the Meters' first studio reunion since 1977, on a remake of the Crescent City funk legends' "Be My Lady." That's not to say there's much New Orleans flavor on Say That to Say This, though—Raphael Saadiq's sterile production seems to confine Andrews, so that his personality shines through mostly when he blows extended solos on trombone or trumpet. Also Sun 8/3 at the Vic, $25, 18+. Peter Margasak

COURTESY WINDISH AGENCY
  • Courtesy Windish Agency

3:45-4:45 | Run the Jewels | Palladia Stage

It seemed like an odd pairing when Atlanta MC Killer Mike and Brooklyn rapper-producer El-P began collaborating a few years ago—Mike is fierce, friendly, and passionate, and El-P is paranoid, inward, and often cryptic, even in his jokes. In a 2013 interview with Red Bull Music Academy, El-P admitted that even he was surprised by how well it went: "You're not expecting at 35 to meet your best friend." They've definitely got a good thing going, and each made the other sound rejuvenated on his most recent solo album, both of which came out in May 2012—Killer Mike appeared on El-P's quasi-industrial beatdown party Cancer 4 Cure, and El-P produced Killer Mike's agitprop barrage R.A.P. Music. Their chemistry has bubbled over into a full-blown partnership as Run the Jewels, whose self-titled 2013 debut for Fool's Gold is nasty, pointed fun. The second RTJ full-length is nearing completion as I write this. Also Sat 8/2 at Double Door, sold out, 21+. Leor Galil

DAVE MA
  • Dave Ma

4:45-5:30 | The 1975 | The Grove

Last year's immensely satisfying self-titled debut from this Manchester four-piece is a throwback to the glory days of Britpop, but not so much because of its sound—the record's charm has more to do with the way it harnesses the type of swagger and sexual tension that seems especially strong in young, emboldened, guitar-­wielding Brits. The 1975 (Vagrant) owes as much to Orange Juice's anxious jangle as it does to Prince's skittering foreplay guitar, and front man Matt Healy is a kick to watch in action. Also Sat 8/2 at Park West, sold out, 18+. Maura Johnston

COURTESY WINDISH AGENCY
  • Courtesy Windish Agency

5:40-6:20 | Betty Who | BMI Stage

Hailing from Australia by way of Berklee, this bubbly singer-songwriter specializes in big-tent pop that marries the sad and the effervescent—"Heartbreak Dream," the opening track from her most recent EP, Slow Dancing (RCA), has a towering hook that makes looking back on a lost love sound like a fun way to spend three minutes and change. The combination of Betty's breathy soprano (think Katy Perry minus the sour self-regard) and her songs' airbrushed synth-pop makes even the wistful "You're in Love" feel comforting. Maura Johnston

COURTESY NEW FRONTIER TOURING
  • Courtesy New Frontier Touring

6:00-7:15 | Avett Brothers | Samsung Galaxy Stage

It's been eight albums now, so you kind of know what you're gonna get from North Carolina's Avett Brothers. They're a salt-of-the-earth outfit that grafts roots music onto arena rock, and these days—when Mumford & Sons can draw the biggest crowd at Lollapalooza—the Avetts Brothers' banjo plucking and gentle vocal harmonies sound perfectly credible on the kind of mammoth stages that used to host walls of Marshall stacks. Superproducer Rick Rubin oversaw last year's winsome Magpie and the Dandelion (American), which jells better the further the band gets from folk—the sweet, dramatic orchestral pop of "Vanity" really sparkles. Leor Galil

JUSTIN VAGUE
  • Justin Vague

7:15-8:15 | Flume | The Grove)

Australian producer Harley Streten, aka Flume, fuses supercharged modern EDM with smooth, luxurious R&B. On his self-titled 2012 full-length for Mom + Pop, he uses his aggressive synths tenderly, so that they wrap the songs like duvet covers while retaining their dance-floor energy. He processes the vocals in his tracks (sampled or sung by guests) till the singers seem possessed by techno demons, but he can find the heart and sensuality in alien, robotic noises. Over the hiccuping beat of "Stay Close," Streten chops up and rearranges a pitchedup vocal sample that sounds like a chipmunk playing trumpet, then combines it with a lower-­pitched loop to create a sentimental melody. Also Sat 8/2 at Concord Music Hall, sold out, 18+. Leor Galil

RICHARD A. CHAPMAN/SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times Media

8:30-9:45 | Chance the Rapper | Perry's Stage

When Chance the Rapper played in the late afternoon at last year's Lollapalooza, he Drew a crowd way too big for the teeny BMI Stage. It'd been only months since he dropped his engrossing mixtape Acid Rap, which appeals to hip-hop heads and rap philistines alike with its mix of mature introspection and drug-fueled party anthems. The poppy "Chain Smoker" combines a wistfully soulful synth melody, processed and edited vocal samples, and a rattling dance beat, which together have a loose, open-ended feel that allows Chance to switch smoothly between nasal rapping and sweet singing; it's so life-affirming that he sounds irrepressible even delivering lyrics about his fear of dying. His crossover appeal is so obvious that it didn't take the world outside Chicago long to catch on—within a year of Acid Rap he'd appeared on tracks by Skrillex (who plays opposite Chance on the Bud Light Stage) and Justin Bieber. Leor Galil

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