This year marks my debut appearance at Lollapalooza, so wish me luck. I just hope the first time doesn't hurt as much as they say. Anyway, here are my picks for this weekend's upcoming feststravaganza:
Provocateur. Performance artist. Genius. Phony. Cipher. Two years in, not even the most astute music observers really know what to make of Lady Gaga; is she a postmodern meta-diva on the grandest scale ever seen by humankind, or a marketing coup conceived to hock Top 40 tunes to folks who won't bite at pedestrian fare like Katy Perry? I don't know the answer either, but if you asked me to pinpoint the moment when I stopped caring, I believe I'd go back to the first time "Bad Romance" grabbed me by the eardrums and shook my brains into soup. Whatever your take on her, the pop juggernaut that is Gaga makes even the indie-mighty Arcade Fire seem positively puny as a festival headliner. Win Butler and crew might boast literate poise and brilliant arrangements, but Gaga will take the stage in an Aliens Power Loader and moon you while shooting flames out of her bikini top. I know which one I'd rather watch eight beers deep after a long day in Grant Park.
The xx own the PlayStation stage at almost the exact same time as RFC editor Amber's beloved Dawes play, so you can bet she and I will be shaking our fists at each other from opposing sides. The London trio's understated sway should provide a nice slow-dance respite in the middle of Saturday's swelter, but their debut album, last year's xx, also sports enough hooks to carry a festival crowd. There's something about xx that I can't quite get out of my head, even a year on; the record drowns you in sadness, longing and a rainstorm of reverb, but never seems to give its whole hand away. Actually, I think I've got to listen to it again now — I'm sure I missed something, still.
Team Bayside High – Sunday, 12:00 to 12:45
Lolla offers Chicago's hipsterest DJ duo (sorry Flosstradamus, you're yesterday's news) a chance to bring their restless brand of mashup energy to a far bigger audience than their weekly Rehab gig at Wicker Park's murky Debonair Social Club. Bonus points: head to Team Bayside High's Myspace and count how many times the word "party" appears. I got a headache and lost count, but the first reader to tally 'em up gets an RFC beer koozie — right, Amber?
Editor's note: Amber fully condones the idea of an RFC Beer koozie so long as they come in both "regular size" for non-alcoholics and "this'll fit your 40!" for those of us who like to make like Andrew WK and party hard.