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Like the influential music Web site that spawned it, the Pitchfork festival focuses on indie rock but makes occasional forays into dance music, hip-hop, avant-jazz, metal, or garage punk—whether you see them as evidence of handsome broad-mindedness or fleeting tokenism probably depends on your feelings about the Pitchfork aesthetic. This year it runs from Friday, July 18, to Sunday, July 20, once again opening with an evening show coproduced by the UK juggernaut All Tomorrow's Parties as part of its Don't Look Back series—Public Enemy, Sebadoh, and Mission of Burma will each perform a classic album from their back catalog in its entirety.

Union Park, at the intersection of Ashland and Lake, is accessible via the Ashland and Madison buses as well as Green Line and Pink Line trains, both of which stop right at the park. At the southwest corner of the grounds, there will be guarded parking for bicycles. The two main stages, Aluminum and Connector, are located at the northeast and northwest corners of the park, respectively, and the Balance Stage—bigger this year, and with an upgraded sound system—is to the southwest. Gates open at 5 PM on Friday and at noon on Saturday and Sunday; the festival ends each night at 10 PM. An on-site box office opens at 10 AM each day, but it's a better idea to buy tickets in advance online. Single-day passes are $30, and all flavors of multiday passes are already sold out.

The festival is all-ages, and admission is free for children under ten accompanied by an adult. Re-entry is prohibited. Outside food and drink, professional-quality cameras, audio and video recording devices, tents, musical instruments, and pets are not allowed on the festival grounds; cameras with nondetachable lenses are permitted, as are small or midsize backpacks and bags, sealed bottles of water, and folding chairs.

Nonmusic attractions on-site include the Flatstock 17 Poster Convention, a record fair organized by the Chicago Independent Radio Project, and the DEPART-ment store, where mostly local vendors sell handcrafted clothes, jewelry, and more.

Pitchfork is also presenting a few off-site events related to the festival, beginning at 3 PM on Thursday at the Chicago Cultural Center with a panel discussion on Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back featuring Hank and Keith Shocklee of the Bomb Squad. (It's free, but you must reserve a spot by e-mailing rsvp@pitchforkmusicfestival.com.) At 6:30 PM on Thursday at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Fleet Foxes, Extra Golden, the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, and A Hawk and a Hacksaw play a free festival preview concert as part of the city's Music Without Borders series. Pitchfork is also sponsoring an impressive series of free noontime shows at Pritzker Pavilion throughout the summer—including an August appearance by the Ex with Getatchew Mekuria—but it's on hiatus the week of the festival.

There are several official afterfest shows featuring festival artists: on Friday, Health and Mahjongg play at the Hideout; on Saturday, Jay Reatard and King Khan& the Shrines play at the Bottom Lounge and High Places play at Schubas; on Sunday, Boris plays at the Empty Bottle; and on Monday, the Markovic band plays at Martyrs'. (Markovic and company have a busy weekend scheduled, with additional appearances at Summerdance and at Evanston's Ethnic Arts Festival.) These shows aren't covered by Pitchfork tickets, but some are free and some venues will admit festivalgoers at a discount. Like any good music festival Pitchfork also supports a thriving ecosystem of unofficial afterparties and shows—the We ♥ Chicago series at the Empty Bottle runs Thursday through Saturday with Mike Simonetti, Gunsn' Bombs, and the Hood Internet—but many will be on the down low, either because they're at quasi-legal venues or because the fest artists have noncompete clauses in their Pitchfork contracts. Keep your eyes open for flyers making the rounds if you're interested.

This schedule was accurate at press time; check chicagoreader.com or pitchforkmusicfestival.com for last-minute updates. —MR

friday18

6:00 Mission of Burma

The occupation of Iraq has reiterated the sick bankruptcy of the Vietnam-era logic about destroying villages to save them, but in 1982, with their LP Vs., Mission of Burma proved it really was possible to save rock 'n' roll by smashing it to bits. The Boston-based four-piece certainly rocked, both in short punky blasts like the white-knuckled blammo anthem "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate" and in careening, extended noise spills like the trust-nothing, fuck-everything treatise "Fun World." But it was their soundman, Martin Swope, who pulled the music apart and put it back together. By taping the band while it played and then feeding looped and distorted snippets of that recording back into the song, he reimagined rock's fatal illness—it had grown fat and moribund by swallowing its own tail—as a strategy for revivifying it. Underappreciated in their day, Burma packed it in shortly after Vs.'s release and didn't play together again for 19 years. Since reuniting they've made a couple excellent albums, but nothing that tops Vs.—it's just received a lavish reissue by Matador, and the band will play it here in its entirety. aConnector Stage —BM

7:15 Sebadoh

During indie rock's 90s heyday, Lou Barlow seemed to hover over the genre like some sort of mythological archetype or patron saint—the solipsistic sad sack a lot of dudes aspired perversely to be, filling tape after tape with four-tracked misery. And for sure, between Sebadoh and what seemed like dozens of side projects, he made some crucial contributions to the world's stockpile of breakup-mix songs. But he was way more interesting when he indulged his weirder side—the part of him that'd rather do bong rips and play hardcore records than mope. The synergy between those two halves peaked on 1993's Bubble & Scrape (recently reissued on Sub Pop), where bum-out classics like "Soul and Fire" share space with lo-fi dirt-weed freak-outs like "Elixir Is Zog." Drummer, multi-instrumentalist, and noisemaker Eric Gaffney, who'd founded the band with Barlow, quit after that record, but in 2007 the seminal Sebadoh lineup—which also includes the underappreciated Jason Loewenstein—started touring together again, and they'll play Bubble& Scrape top to bottom here. aConnector Stage —MR

8:30 Public Enemy

It's not a tremendous surprise that in 2008 Flava Flav is better known for his reality-TV endeavors than the jovial solo cut "Cold Lampin' With Flavor"—it's pretty much the only thing on Public Enemy's 1988 classic It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back that isn't nonstop brick-to-the-grill real. Actually "classic" is the wrong word, because it doesn't contain the vast number of ways in which the album was truly revolutionary, the way it took every record that came before it hostage—not just in hip-hop but in all of pop music as it had existed till then. "Too black, too strong" goes the sample that opens "Bring the Noise," and It Takes a Nation comes for you where you live, a flawless, righteous indictment of American racism and the abdication of the media that showed there was no vehicle more perfect than hip-hop with which to raise that critique. P.E. will perform the whole album tonight. aAluminum Stage —JH

saturday19

12:30 Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar

On his latest album, Go Marko Go! (Piranha), Serbian brass-band maestro and flugelhorn player Boban Markovic passes the torch to (or at least shares it with) his trumpet-playing son, Marko. Markovic coproduced the disc, and some of the studio arrangements are clumsy and cloying—but anyone judging this juggernaut by its recordings clearly hasn't seen it onstage. Not only the greatest brass band on the planet, the Markovic Orkestar is one of its greatest live acts, period, combining steamrolling power with acrobatic agility. Its members all have astonishing reserves of strength: the horn players can blow tricky, high-speed figures for hours on end with no sign of fatigue, and the percussionists stomp and skip through complex time signatures at top volume. When they founder a bit on a ballad (there are a few on the new record, though the band rarely plays any live), it sounds like they simply don't know what to do with all the energy they're not using. I don't envy anyone who has to follow them. This indefatigable group also plays the Pitchfork preview show in Millennium Park on Thursday, Summerdance in Grant Park on Friday, Evanston's Ethnic Arts Festival later today, and Martyrs' on Monday; see the List. aBalance Stage —PM

1:00 Titus Andronicus

Just when you were convinced that the only Jersey bands getting born to this world were horrifying New Found Glory-style emo knockoffs, voila: the Garden State blesses us with this furious six-piece, which sounds like the Vaselines by way of Richard Hell's dick, circa 1977. They finesse their loaded, greasy switchblade swagger with troubled-boy pop rage that they handle so casually they can't have a clue how powerful it really is. aConnector Stage —JH

1:25 A Hawk and a Hacksaw

Jeremy Barnes, formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel, has fallen so hard for the Rom folk music of Eastern Europe that a year and a half ago he and Heather Trost, his partner in this mostly instrumental group, moved to Budapest, Hungary. When he started the band nearly eight years ago he was an earnest imitator, but he and Trost have clearly been learning from masters. The great Romanian brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia was all over their previous album, and last year's terrific A Hawk and a Hacksaw and the Hun Hangar Ensemble (Leaf) features some of Hungary's best, among them brilliant violinist and trumpeter Ferenc Kovacs, who's played traditional Rom music with the likes of Kalman Balogh and Felix Lajko and is equally fluent in jazz; the band's current touring lineup includes Kovacs and multi-instrumentalist Chris Hladowski of Nalle and the Family Elan. A Hawk and a Hacksaw also plays the Pitchfork preview show in Millennium Park on Thursday; see the List. aBalance Stage —PM

1:30 Jay Reatard

The title of Jay Reatard's recent anthology, Singles 06-07 (In the Red), says a lot about how prolific this garage wizard has been lately. During those two years he released not only the 17 studio tracks in the collection but also albums with three of his many side projects and the nearly perfect solo full-length Blood Visions. Reatard's definition of garage rock is a broad one, but his work under his own name seems to be gravitating toward a version that's heavier on Wire than the Seeds. He also plays at Bottom Lounge on Saturday; see the List. aAluminum Stage —MR

2:00 Caribou

Electronic musician and doctor of mathematics Dan Snaith—known as Manitoba till Handsome Dick caught wind of it—has been honing his aesthetic for nearly a decade, and on last year's Andorra (Merge) it's both untamed and playful, rooted in the rich soil of early-90s electronic pop and densely layered with graceful rhythms. aConnector Stage —MK

2:20 Icy Demons

This mostly local band includes past and present members of Chandeliers, Man Man, and Need New Body, among others, but if Icy Demons is a side project, it's a side project for people with more sides than usual. Their latest, Miami Ice (Obey Your Brain)—which features artsy cameos by the likes of bassist Josh Abrams and Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker—is a sort of pan-everything dance-fusion record for the rubber jointed, mixing hip-hop and vaguely Brazilian rhythms with what sounds like Spinal Tap's "Jazz Odyssey" (and I mean that in a good way). They make this often bewildering music sound so accessible you'd swear you could play it yourself, and that's a big part of their appeal. aBalance Stage —MK

3:00 Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes almost sound like they're taking a stab at the wild harmonies of shape-note singing at the start of "Sun It Rises," the lead track of their self-titled debut on Sub Pop. The tune quickly shifts to a more conventional kind of harmony, but the elaborate arrangement of voices remains the record's focus—even when bandleader Robin Pecknold sings lead he's upstaged by the group vocals, which are reminiscent of the Beach Boys and close-harmony country singing. The gorgeous melodies, set within simple, almost rustic guitar-bass-drums arrangements, diverge from the typical verse-chorus-verse pattern, instead flowing eccentrically and intuitively. Sometimes Fleet Foxes remind me of the Shins, if the Shins had learned to play while stranded on a desert island, but their sound is more naturalistic and heavenly—this is one of the best rock albums I've heard all year. Fleet Foxes also play the Pitchfork preview show in Millennium Park on Thursday; see the List. aAluminum Stage —PM

3:15 Fuck Buttons

This British duo has been wrapped in a many-colored cloak of hype—they're supposed to be some sort of ecstatic noise band—but their full-length debut, Street Horrrsing (ATP), like lots of "noise" records trumpeted as such in the indie press, is only slightly more sinister than Vangelis. I'm sure it's more impressive at a zillion decibels, but we're a long way from Merzbow: this is pretty straightforward electronic drone pop, an oceanic womb of warm, pulsing tones. Even the distorted screaming and occasional jolts of feedback just sound like a little moodiness from mom. aBalance Stage —MK

4:00 Dizzee Rascal

Not too long ago it looked like Dizzee Rascal would be the MC to finally sell American listeners on the UK style called grime, but his third album, Maths + English, didn't come out in the States till a year after its UK release; El-P, who enlisted Dizzee as an opener on his most recent tour, finally issued it on his Definitive Jux label. The new disc isn't his best calling card, but he has the charisma, skills, and style to connect—now if he could just find his audience here. aConnector Stage —PM

4:15 Ruby Suns

This New Zealand group's second album, Sea Lion (Sub Pop), shines when California-born bandleader Ryan McPhun flaunts the sounds he's picked up on his travels: the blend of African guitars, Polynesian chants, and Caribbean percussion on "Oh, Mojave" and "Tane Mahuta" is as sweet as a tropical smoothie. Elsewhere the Suns can't seem to decide whether they want to be mid-80s Chills or early-aughts Flaming Lips, and they won't make you forget either. aBalance Stage —BM

5:00 Vampire Weekend

I was far from the only person whose initial reaction to Vampire Weekend's "Upper West Side Soweto" Afrophilic preppy shtick was disgust—and like many of them, I succumbed to the earworms in "Oxford Comma" and "A-Punk" and had to sheepishly admit that the band's actually good. Their self-titled debut on XL had to weather plenty of criticism before it even came out, as the band became the latest lightning rod for the ongoing debate about today's rapid-response hype networks, but its rather lightweight confections have held up for six months so far—an eternity in blog years. aAluminum Stage —MR

5:20 Elf Power

On this spring's In a Cave (Ryko), Elf Power occasionally tried to cut their lush tunefulness with dark angst—so much of a stretch for them that it didn't really take. When I caught them live in April, though, they raced through old and new material alike with an infectious eagerness and joy that had even initially resistant members of the audience hopping with anticipation between songs. aBalance Stage —MK

6:00 !!!

What sets !!! apart from most so-called dance-punk bands is that they prefer the deep, organic grooves of African funk, rather than the usual plasticine retro synths—though on their career-best single, 2003's "Me and Giuliani Down By the Schoolyard (A True Story)," they prove themselves comfortable incorporating old-school Chicago house as well. aConnector Stage —MR

6:25 Extra Golden

While D.C. indie rocker Ian Eagleson was in Nairobi researching benga, the national dance-pop style of Kenya, he launched Extra Golden with Alex Minoff, his bandmate in Golden, and several benga veterans. On their second album, Hera Ma Nono (Thrill Jockey), they sound less like a petri-dish experiment and more like a proper band, their buoyant, sparkling, guitar-heavy music drawing on styles from both countries in an organic give-and-take. The record includes the homage "Obama," which is more personal than you might expect—the senator's office helped the band secure visas for its first visit to the U.S. in 2006. Extra Golden also plays the Pitchfork preview show in Millennium Park on Thursday; see the List. aBalance Stage —PM

7:00 The Hold Steady

If appreciating the more esoteric acts at the festival requires more brain power than you've got to give on a hot summer's day, never fear: the Hold Steady is here. Though front man Craig Finn's hyperliterate lyrics can be read as a convoluted novel-length portrait of postmillennial youth spread across four albums—including the brand-new Stay Positive (Vagrant)—the music is big-ass American guitar rock that would play well at a county fair. Much has been made of the group's debt to Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band—both acts pair third-person stories of romance and desperation with operatic roots rock—but the Hold Steady's songs tend to depend on Tad Kubler's massive riffs, as gloriously dumb and completely indelible as anything on classic-rock radio. aAluminum Stage —MR

7:30 Atlas Sound

Earlier this year Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox released his full-length debut as Atlas Sound, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel (Kranky), and though he recorded it almost entirely by himself, it sure doesn't sound like a vanity project. His songs, which he continues to post online at an impressive rate, have dark, torpid lyrics similar to Deerhunter's, but the melodies are sunnier, the textures spacier and airier, and the mood less gloomy. Cox has been playing with a full band that includes members of Valet and White Rainbow, but this set will be solo. aBalance Stage —PM

8:00 Jarvis Cocker

Jarvis (Rough Trade), the former Pulp front man's 2006 disc, is at once a debut and a culmination, drawing on his old band's eclecticism while standing out as his most intimate effort to date—and "most intimate" is saying a lot, considering he's crafted his iconic persona by plumbing the intricacies of his neuroses surrounding social standing and sex. Now a married dad living in France, he's domestic but not domesticated. His hilariously reckless driving in the video for "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time" is like something out of an English version of Grand Theft Auto, and "Black Magic," a glam anthem built from a two-bar loop of "Crimson and Clover" and his inimitable Cocker-spiel, is grand theft automath. aConnector Stage —JN

8:25 No Age

LA's positive noise-pop duo has looked more like a religion than a band of late, casual but full of purpose, and the weird thing is that the fans are picking up what No Age is putting down—the message of inclusion and community. It doesn't usually work that way, with good intentions making direct impact, but the all-ages get-rad is spreading nationwide. A band that means what it says—or rather, a band that means anything at all—is a pretty fucking novel concept these days. aBalance Stage —JH

9:00 Animal Collective

One thing Animal Collective ought to get points for is their devotion, whether deliberate or unwitting, to the wisdom of the left-hand path of Tantra—hedonistic self-indulgence, if pushed in the craziest directions, can lead to enlightenment. There's no thought too odd to find its way into one of the band's bouncy, tranced-out, restless creations, which are cooked by intuition, not by recipe. The songs on last year's Strawberry Jam (Domino) are tight and compact, though, and show signs of the discipline that road work can instill in even the most anarchic group. aAluminum Stage —MK

sunday20

12:30 Mahjongg

A cheater's guide to Mahjongg: Kontpab (K Records) is their latest album, and "kontpab" is a word of great occult significance in the same parallel universe where life-forms are PVC based, Throbbing Gristle was the soundtrack for the Black Power movement, and thumb piano is the least useless musical instrument ever. That universe is nearer than you think. Mahjongg also plays the Hideout on Friday; see the List. aBalance Stage —JN

1:00 Times New Viking

If I were Wojciech Demjanjuk and this were "Ukraine BEST Rock Column"—both are figments concocted for Times New Viking's press bio—I would probably praise the 90-second shit-blasts of rock on Rip It Off (Matador) just as he does: "I hope never to hear band have bridge in song. If so, I go & blow up bridge!" aConnector Stage —JN

1:25 High Places

This tropical electro-psych duo, freshly signed to Thrill Jockey, was May's hot item in the world of MP3 blogs. They hippie it out lyrically, mentioning baby birds, galaxies, and universal truth, and with their feel-good rainbow vibe they sound like twee kids gone Timbaland who've cut a demo in a shower stall—cute indeed. High Places also play Schubas on Saturday; see the List. aBalance Stage —JH

1:30 Dirty Projectors

The Dirty Projectors keep thinking up worse and worse ideas and making them sound better and better. How do you top a lo-fi indie opera that references Aztec mythology, 9/11, and Don Henley? If you're Dave Longstreth, the man behind this Brooklyn-based band, you might try remaking Black Flag's Damaged by reconstructing its songs from memory—15 years after the last time you heard it. Rise Above (Dead Oceans) turnss that goofy stunt into high art. aAluminum Stage —JN

2:00 Boris

This Japanese trio is as changeable as Chicago weather, capable of delicate psychedelia as well as colossal tectonic crunch. Their latest album, Smile (Southern Lord), goes in a dreamy direction that was only somewhat foreshadowed by Rainbow, their 2006 collaboration with Ghost guitarist Michio Kurihara—who guests on the new disc, along with Stephen O'Malley of Sunn 0))). Even the prettiest, poppiest songs get a jolt of amplifier juice onstage, though, so that they billow and darken like thunderheads. Boris also plays the Empty Bottle tonight; see the List. aConnector Stage —MK

2:20 Health

With their galloping tribal-industrial drums and prickly guitars, Health may seem a little unfriendly, but there's a rich vein of dance-floor hedonism in their music too—the remixers who tweaked the band's self-titled 2007 album for the remix collection Health//Disco (Lovepump) had little trouble uncovering it and shining it to a rave-ready gleam. Health also plays the Hideout on Friday; see the List. aBalance Stage —MR

3:00 Apples in Stereo

Robert Schneider's long-running band, the giddiest of the Elephant 6 groups (and the only one of the original three still going), has always been candy to folks whose twee tolerance is high enough. Mine isn't exceptional, I admit, but I guess I'm no puppy-kicking nihilist either, because the Apples in Stereo have always been able to hit my happy buttons. Though the oddities collection Electronic Projects for Musicians (Yep Roc) is a little hard to get through in a single sitting—you start to wonder if that kid with the sunny disposition is for real—most of the tracks are great loopy fun taken one at a time. aAluminum Stage —MK

3:15 King Khan & the Shrines

This is one of the most anticipated sets of the fest, and with good reason: King Khan's grubby, frenetic soul-punk orchestra tours the States only slightly more often than Halley's Comet. Khan can conjugate the verb "to sweat" in a thousand and one ways, and on the new The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines (Vice), a sort of best-of collection, he's dripping with the swaggering, nearly maniacal confidence of every artist who's ever declared himself a king, a lord, a sheikh, or a godfather. What makes his self-aggrandizing antics uniquely charming, though, is that he wants to share that power with everybody. The Shrines also play Bottom Lounge on Saturday; see the List. aBalance Stage —MK

4:00 Les Savy Fav

When Les Savy Fav's The Cat and the Cobra exploded into the indie world in 1999, I'm sure nobody would've guessed that its abrasive posthardcore grooves—and the hyperliterate idiot-savant man-ape stage persona of front man Tim Harrington—would still have that same power nine years later. But their revival of skritchy Gang of Four funk looks prescient now, given all the dance-punk bands doing more or less the same thing, and it turns out that it's nearly impossible to get sick of Harrington's antics, no matter how many times you see the dude strip down to his skivvies. aConnector Stage —MR

5:00 Dodos

Most psychedelic-rock bands rely on cranked-up amplifiers and exotic effects pedals, but this San Francisco duo does an impressive job with little more than drums, an electric-acoustic guitar, and vocals. Their recent Visiter (Frenchkiss) is full of drone jams that sound like hyperactive rewrites of early Velvets tunes—the drumming mirrors the hectic, intricate rhythms of the strummed and fingerpicked guitar instead of anchoring the music with straightforward beats. aAluminum Stage —MR

5:20 Occidental Brothers Dance Band International

The Occidental Brothers began as a laid-back way for local guitarist Nathaniel Braddock and some like-minded pals to cover old West African tunes. But the energy level jumped when Ghanaian singer-trumpeter Kofi Cromwell and drummer Daniel "Rambo" Asamoah joined, and soon the band's ambition took off as well—the originals on the upcoming Odo Sanbra hold up next to the covers, which range from palm-wine classics like "Yaa Amponsah" to New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle." aBalance Stage —BM

6:00 Ghostface Killah and Raekwon

Opinions are split about last year's 8 Diagrams (SRC/Universal Motown), but even if the Wu-Tang Clan is still nothing to fuck with, it might not be worth paying attention to—its members' solo projects have been the real action for years. Ghostface Killah has become the most prolific and compelling, making an art of inside-out logic, and Raekwon, who's been promising a sequel to the 1995 classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx . . . for years now, has been a great foil for Ghostface—in fact he's sounded better in cameos than on his own albums. aBalance Stage —PM

6:00 M. Ward

M. Ward's albums tend to sound like they've been dug up in time capsules or beamed out of the past using some obsolete machinery; he even named one Transistor Radio. His music is old-fashioned, but its values are timeless—if indelible melodies, crisply understated playing, and thoughtful, compassionate lyrics ever go out of fashion, then what's fashion good for? aConnector Stage —BM

7:00 Spiritualized

Spiritualized's new album, Songs in A&E (Universal), picks up where 2003's gospel-tinged Amazing Grace left off and then travels to a place of much gentleness—it has less of the wall-of-sound production and grandiose groove that you naturally expect (and probably want) from Spiritualized. There's a chilled-out late-Oasis vibe going on, which is probably just an inevitable side effect of Jason Spaceman's evolution into an elder statesman of British shoegazer rock. aAluminum Stage —JH

7:30 Bon Iver

Wisconsin songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Justin Vernon created a quiet splash in a cool lake with For Emma, Forever Ago, his first album under the Bon Iver name, self-released in 2007 and then picked up by Jagjaguwar earlier this year. Add in a few gigs with Black Mountain and Wilco and the rest is history. The music is like a note from a misty wilderness far away, with its sparse acoustic strumming and ghostly, soulful harmonies—it should sound wondrously strange at a hot, crowded summer festival. aBalance Stage —MK

8:00 Dinosaur Jr

For years it seemed fantastically unlikely that Dinosaur Jr guitar hero J Mascis and original bassist Lou Barlow would ever reconcile, but when you listen to their metaphorical makeup sex on last year's Beyond (Fat Possum) it's equally hard to believe that they were ever apart. I don't hear many people claiming that Beyond is as great as You're Living All Over Me, released 20 years before, but neither do I hear many people complaining about the band's live show these days. aConnector Stage —MK

8:25 Cut Copy

Cut Copy's second album, In Ghost Colours (Modular), came out not too long after New Order's most recent breakup, and if anyone can fill those big shoes, it's this Australian trio. Not only do they deftly combine dance-floor thump with sophisticated pop hooks, but they can also pull off New Order's trick of making club music sound huge enough to fill an arena. aBalance Stage —MR

9:00 Spoon

Since their turn-of-the-century rise from the major-label boneyard, Spoon have become one of the best and most reliable bands in rock. On last year's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge) Britt Daniel and company set a new high-water mark, further sharpening their minimalist arrangements and stripped-down structures. Though the elegant, thrillingly angular melodies bloom with unexpected bursts of blue-eyed soul, the plush horn charts can't soften the nervy bite of these songs—they don't so much have a heartbeat as a rhythmic, muscular twitch. aAluminum Stage —PM

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