Lollapalooza 2011 facebook.com/lollapalooza

Lollapalooza is coming! This weekend, from August 3-5, Chicago’s Grant Park will be taken over by eight stages and more than 140 performances. It begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday morning and ends at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday night. That’s a lot of music, and there’s no way you’ll be able to hear it all. Serious decisions must be made. The rest of your life will be determined by which bands you choose to see. That said, here are 10 performances I highly recommend you make every effort to check out this weekend.

The War On Drugs

Where: Google Play Stage
When: Friday, 2:15-3:00 p.m.
Why: The War On Drugs are making some of the best American indie-rock around. The Philadelphia band’s tunes, like on last year’s “Slave Ambient” LP, are hard-hitting anthems celebrating those working-class heroes and road-worn vagabonds who refuse to give up their pursuit of that always elusive American dream. The music summons the spirits of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, but it’s the bizarre traces of drone, noise and experimentalism that set The War On Drugs apart.

Tame Impala

Where: Sony Stage
When: Friday, 3:15-4:15 p.m.
Why: This Australian psych-rock band sounds like it swallows a pound of shrooms right before they sit down to write a song. Their “Innerspeaker” LP showed them making muscular, but tripped-out rock inspired by Brit bands like King Crimson and The Pretty Things. Get ready for huge, swirling guitars, massive grooves and warm, totally zonked harmonies.

Black Sabbath

Where: Bud Light Stage
When: Friday, 8:05-10:00 p.m.
Why: Do you really need to ask? The 43-year-old, Ozzy Osbourne-fronted English rock band practically invented metal music, bringing black leather, anger, Satan and horror movie chills to what was previously a happy-go-lucky hippie party. Their 1970 album “Paranoid” is no doubt one of the top 10 rock albums ever made; over 40 years later, most children still learn how to growl the riff to “Iron Man” before they learn to walk. This is Black Sabbath’s only North American concert this year. Be there.

The Black Keys

Where: Red Bull Soundstage
When: Friday, 8:30-10:00 p.m.
Why: The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney were high school friends in Akron, Ohio, and now they’re one of the most popular rock bands in America. The Grammy-winning duo makes swinging electric blues-rock; the Keys’ last album, the Danger Mouse-produced “El Camino,” hits especially hard, but the hits are always danceable. (Yes, it’s impossible to see both Black Sabbath and The Black Keys because their sets overlap. Sorry, but this is a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.)

JEFF The Brotherhood

Where: Playstation Stage
When: Saturday, 1:30-2:15 p.m.
Why: When I interviewed Jake Orrall of the Nashville band JEFF The Brotherhood last month for RedBullUSA.com, one of his quotes was a rock ’n’ roll mission statement. Asked about his songwriting and lyrical themes, he said the following: “It’s all bullshit. I don't really believe in trying to write good or meaningful lyrics, because it's fucking rock ’n’ roll, you know? Who cares?” Their latest album is the Dan Auerbach-produced “Hypnotic Nights,” and it thrives on dirty riffs, lyrical simplicity and a “fight for your right to party” attitude. Don’t expect profundity, but be prepared to rage.

Skream & Benga

Where: Perry’s Stage
When: Saturday, 5:45-6:45 p.m.
Why: Lollapalooza founder Perry Ferrell has always been into EDM, but this year both Justice and Avicii are headliners. And on Perry’s Stage, it’s a weekend-long rave. One of the EDM highlights is this performance by the London producers Skream and Benga, two pioneers of dubstep music. There shall be plenty of wobbles and drops, but also a dubstep history lesson that young bucks like Skrillex cannot provide.

Frank Ocean

Where: Google Play Stage
When: Saturday, 8:45-9:45 p.m.
Why: The Odd Future affiliate Frank Ocean is responsible for the year’s best R&B album, “channel ORANGE.” All of the WTF moments (like his ridiculous rendition of the Eagles’ “Hotel California”) from last year’s “nostalgia, ULTRA” are gone as Ocean focuses on serious, introspective songwriting. There’s evidence of Prince and Stevie Wonder throughout, but Ocean’s doing his own thing and doing it impressively very well. His falsetto chorus on “Thinking About You” is one of the most heartbreaking music experiences you’ll have at Lollapalooza this year. Find someone to slow-dance with.

Polica

Where: Sony Stage
When: Sunday, 1:30-2:15 p.m.
Why: This Minneapolis band merges indie-rock, electronic music and R&B to achieve excellent results. On their debut album, “Give You The Ghost,” frontwoman Channy Leaneagh drenches her voice in Auto-Tune, transforming it into a haunting presence that shimmers over the dreamy soundscapes. It’s a creepy, otherworldly sound, but refreshingly unique and undeniably pop.

Sigur Ros

Where: Red Bull Soundstage
When: Sunday, 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Why: This Icelandic post-rock band makes such beautiful music that it’s not unusual for people to cry during their sets (despite the fact that the songs are sung in a made up language). The group’s normally sweeping, orchestral vision meets electronic drone, sparkle and fuzz on their new album, “Valtari.” The result is the soundtrack to a motivational speech that will make you want to call your parents to tell them how much you appreciate everything they’ve ever done for you.

At The Drive-In

Where: Red Bull Soundstage
When: Sunday, 6:00-7:15 p.m.
Why: I once made a list of the best 50 albums of the 2000s, and At The Drive-In’s “Relationship Of Command” took the number one spot. Like most people, I wasn’t hip to their two earlier albums (“Acrobatic Tenement” and “In/Casino Out,” both amazing) until after the “One Armed Scissor” video hit heavy rotation on MTV. The entire band was wildly flailing around like rabid beasts, which was a radical departure from the moody, shoegazing grunge bands that came before them. They were completely unhinged, militant and refreshing. Sadly, one year later, the band went on “indefinite hiatus.” They popped up with new projects, like Mars Volta and Sparta, but it wasn’t the same. So, after 10 years of silence, when they announced earlier this year they’d be playing a few reunion shows, it was great news. This might be the last opportunity to catch ATDI go nuts in the U.S. before they slither into hiding once again. Don’t sleep on this.

Follow Elliott Sharp on Twitter @ElliottSharp for more news and updates.

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