Lollapalooza Survival Guide | Music Feature | Chicago Reader

Lollapalooza Survival Guide 

Twenty nine acts to see—even if you have to fight the crowds

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12:45 PM Titus Andronicus When Titus Andronicus's second record, The Monitor (XL), came out early last year it seemed like a tough sell: a concept album loosely based on Civil War history where the songs frequently flirt with or exceed the eight-minute mark, performed by a band that seemed to want to sound like Black Flag covering Born to Run. But The Monitor has found firm footing in the indie-rock world, and the band has used its 15 minutes of blogosphere fame to frequently, loudly, and eloquently promote an ethos rooted in classic punk and indie ideals—which has further enhanced their standing with the people who think those values still have some use left in them. —MR Music Unlimited stage

2:30 PM Lia Ices On her second album, Grown Unknown (Jagjaguwar), Brooklyn singer Lia Ices balances the ethereal with the muscular, shaping elegant pop songs that both billow and throb. Her breathy quiver, wordless coos, and elongated aahs connect her to the unfortunate tradition of overwrought post-Sarah McLachlan indie pop, but she resuscitates those worn-out mannerisms by using them as emotional punctuation rather than empty ornamentation. Her strong songs, tinged with folky melancholy, tend to use complex episodic structures: "Daphne," for instance, opens with simple acoustic guitar, elegant strings, and gossamer singing that sounds as much like Joan Baez as it does Feist, then grows in power and density by adding lush harmony vocals, martial piano, and propulsive drums in rapid succession. —PM BMI stage

3 PM Cool Kids This Chicago duo—MC Mikey Rocks and producer/MC Chuck Inglish—looked ready to be the next big thing in hip-hop when they released their 2008 debut EP, The Bake Sale, but contract disputes with their label at the time, Chocolate Industries, delayed their first full-length, When Fish Ride Bicycles, for years. Last month the Cool Kids finally released the album digitally via Mountain Dew's Green Label Sound, and though their signature style—sparse electro beats and nods to vintage rap acts like EPMD—isn't as eye-opening as it was three years ago, there's still a lot to love about the record. And after several years of heavy touring, the Cool Kids are reliable party starters, even in front of massive festival crowds. Also Fri 8/5 at Reggie's Rock Club. —MR Perry's tent

3 PM The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Over their past few releases—most notably the recent single "Belong"—Brooklyn's Pains of Being Pure of Heart have grown up and grown loud. They've gone from being so twee they sounded a little scared of themselves to being a band in the tradition of the Smiths or Lush—fey vocals keeping up a thread of quiet sadness while big, growling guitars envelop the entire song. What was sweet and virginal about them before is now quick and carnal. They're a real rock band, full of knowing and distortion pedals. —JH Sony stage

4:15 PM Flogging Molly This LA-based seven-piece went to Asheville, North Carolina, to record its fifth studio album, The Speed of Darkness (Borstal Beat), and came away with a smooth and expansive pint-hoisting sound that's got more than a hint of country swing. Flogging Molly have never been the scrappiest of the Celtic punks (both the Tossers and the Dropkick Murphys sound like they could take 'em in a donnybrook), but their precision and polish serve them well when they power up their angry working-man anthems and sea chanteys with arena-rock flourishes—after all, to make a revolution, you need more people than can fit in a cozy pub. —MK Bud Light stage

5:45 PM Best Coast In case you haven't noticed, Bethany Cosentino is really into cats. And weed. And boyfriends. Or at least would-be boyfriends. That makes her not terribly unlike most southern California songwriters of the female-beachy-hipster variety—except that her band is better than most of theirs. Best Coast sounds like perfect 60s-inspired surf rock that's not trying too hard to sound like perfect 60s-inspired surf rock. Cosentino seems comfortable in her skin, the kind of person with whom you might spend an afternoon rolling spliffs and spilling secrets. I wish she were my girlfriend (platonically speaking). —MS Google+ stage

7 PM Explosions in the Sky As you might already know if you've seen Friday Night Lights (either the movie or the TV series), Austin's Explosions in the Sky are in the business of scoring cathartic moments for burly dudes playing high school football. The instrumental postrock quartet has been hanging radiant, delay-heavy guitar lines over driving rhythms for a decade and counting—these guys understand their strengths, and they've got the collective resolve to stick with them. This spring's Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (Temporary Residence)—the band's first album in four years—is as rock solid as ever, with quiet wisps of airy guitars ambling around till they meet up and head off to the races during one of EITS's signature crescendo freak-outs. It's a formula that will just always work. Hell, I'm getting inspired to go run an ultramarathon or some shit as I sit here writing this at 11 PM on a Thursday night in my miserably humid, unair-conditioned apartment. —KW Sony stage

7:15 PM Modeselektor Given how faddish the global dance-music scene can be, it's impressive that Modeselektor have been able to stay popular for so long without sounding like they're jumping on any bandwagons. You can often hear traces of trendy subgenres like bloghouse and UK funky in their DJ sets and original productions, but the duo always frame them within the aesthetic of Berlin techno, bending their influences to its clean lines and minimalist structures—and they've got just enough of a sense of humor to keep things from sounding oppressively stiff and Teutonic. —MR Perry's tent

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