Showdown in Grant Park

Lollapalooza, that grand three-day Chi-town music festival produced by Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, is soon approaching. With more than eight stages of music from which to choose each day of the fest, the Grant Park grounds may cause confusion and intimidation among attendees. No worries, virgin Lolla-goer, below are my personal recommendations for the August 1-3 musical extravaganza.

Mason Jennings vs. Dr. Dog

Jennings’ honest voice and smart, folksy lyrics harken back to the alt-country wave of the early 90’s. As opposed to Dr. Dog’s psychedelic rock a’la The Beatles, Jennings’ act will better let concert-goers ease into a long, intense night of Okkervil River, Toadies (Possum Kingdom!), and Wilco.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
vs. The Raconteurs

Here’s what I’d suggest: stop by the Bud Light stage for about an hour to jam with The Raconteurs, then head on over to Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, where prog-rock meets classic Pavement. A Portland project gone psychedelic, Malkmus’ lyric eccentricity and guitar mastery coheres well with ex-Sleater-Kinney Janet Weiss’ mad percussive skills. The ex-Pavement front man serves as the ideal opener for Yorke (Radiohead performs at 8:00).

Okkervil River vs. Jamie Lidell

Due to my obsession with The Stage Names and my anxious anticipation of Okkervil River’s upcoming fall release, it is necessary that Jamie Lidell be passed up. Will Sheff’s musical storytelling skills far surpass Lidell’s funk-inspired electronica comprised of a tape-recorded “band.”

Wilco vs Rage Against the Machine

Though this decision may be difficult for some, for me, the answer is simple: WILCO. In marked contrast to Rage Against the Machine, Wilco has evolved at an exponential rate, achieving true musical maturity in a matter of 14 years. Especially for those of you who missed the band’s five-night stand this past fall at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre, this show is a must-see.

Cat Power vs. Mates of State

As one of my favorite female vocalists, Cat Power (aka Charlyn Marshall) strikes me as the best choice here. Yes, Mates of State’s husband and wife duo may seem charming at first, but trust me, nothing beats The Greatest (Cat Power’s 1996 release).

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