Last week saw the release of the giant, cross-genre, super-exciting lineup for Lollapalooza, one of the most anticipated music festivals in all the land. With over 100 bands on the bill, though, it's REALLY hard to focus your attention on any one act. That's why we're here with our top 10 picks to watch beyond the headliners. Who has the most potential to surprise at Lolla 2012?
10. Black Sabbath
Okay, ONE headliner. It must be said, one of the key reasons to check out Black Sabbath is morbid curiosity. Yes, it's great that Ozzy Osbourne has gotten back with his original band—some of the pioneers of heavy metal—but are these guys too old to rock? Can Ozzy sing anymore? Here's one thing for sure about Black Sabbath, though: they've got one of the most underappreciated rhythm sections in rock & roll, courtesy of bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. Those two guys alone make this a show to watch.
Recommended track: Paranoid
9/8. TIE: Metric/Anamanaguchi
Here is the thing about both these bands: they each contributed to the excellent music for the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World franchise, Metric on the motion picture soundtrack (they wrote the song sung by Scott's evil rocker ex) and Anamanaguchi by scoring the 16-bit Xbox Live/PSN video game. That is as good a reason as any to support these goups.
Recommended track(s): Black Sheep, Scott Pilgrim's Anthem
7. Alabama Shakes
Though at first glance the Alabama Shakes may seem like every other country-blues band in the world, they stand apart thanks to their incredible vocalist Brittany Howard, who really, truly sounds like an incarnation of Robert Plant. This band fuses powerhouse Led Zeppelin-style vocals with real gritty roots rock. It's fantastic.
Recommended track: I Ain't the Same
Sometimes it sounds like an insult to call a band "interesting," but with M83 that's purely complimentary. These guys use spacey guitars, keyboards, samples and every instrument under the sun (saxophone!) to create a sonic cloud of awesome. Their live show should be intense.
Recommended track: Midnight City
5. The Shins
These indie darlings (remember Garden State?) have just released one of the best records of the year, and one of their most upbeat. Port of Morrow might indicate a new era of fame for the Shins. Catch them now.
Recommended track: Simple Song
4. Florence and the Machine
To be blunt, it seems like there is nothing Florence Welch and her backing band cannot do. Between their rich arrangements and her stunning, almost operatic voice, Florence and the Machine is a band that just commands attention.
Recommended track: Shake it Out
3. The Bowerbirds
The Bowerbirds are a folk group from North Carolina that numbers among Lolla's lesser-known acts this year. Don't let that deter you. They combine beautiful songwriting with lush, powerful arrangements, kind of like a more collaborative Bon Iver, to produce stunning results.
Recommended track: This Year
2. Childish Gambino
Childish Gambino is the hip-hop project of Community star Donald Glover (he plays Troy on the show). It's awesome. Glover's lyrics show off some really deep reflection with just a bit of comedy (turns out Donald was a smart, nerdy kid -- maybe you can relate), and his delivery is really impressive. This isn't some celebrity vanity project; it's the real deal.
Recommended track: Fire Fly
1. Gaslight Anthem
Gaslight singer Brian Fallon describes this band as a cross between Bruce Springsteen and the Cure. He's partially right… it's got Springsteen's blue-collar sensibilities and the Cure's drama, with a bit of U2-style bombast thrown in, but it's also a real man's man kind of punk, Alkaline Trio-style. Gaslight is so good they are pretty much worth paying for Lolla to see alone. Of course, you don't have to… but you could.
Recommended track: I'da Called You Woody, Joe
Want to hear the recommended tracks? Check them out on Spotify!