Brooklyn Vegan’s Lolla 2011

Once a week, between now and August 5th we have enlisted the top music blogs from around the country to feature 20th Anniversary artists taking the stage at this year’s Lollapalooza. From big name headliners to buzzworthy acts rising through the ranks, we want you to discover all the talent taking over Grant Park this year. Today’s feature comes from Brooklyn Vegan‘s Bill Pearis. At big outdoor festivals with sprawling lineups like Lollapalooza, you’d need to clone yourself or have a time machine to see everything, but time machines don’t exist yet. A future version of yourself could theoretically send back the technology, but that could create a paradox and change the future. The implications of both cloning and time travel are too complicated to risk, and anyway, wouldn’t you rather go back in time and see Jimi Hendrix or The Beatles? Just accept it, you’ll probably miss a couple acts…and that’s ok. That said, here are five Lollapalooza performers who I wouldn’t miss a second of: Big Audio Dynamite: Mick Jones was kicked out of the Clash in 1984 (reportedly for tardiness) and formed B.A.D. with filmmaker/DJ/cool cat Don Letts. Much like he and the Clash did with Sandinista!, Big Audio Dynamite mixed rock, hip hop, dance music and movie dialogue samples in a way that really hadn’t been done before. The band’s first two albums — 1985′s This is Big Audio Dynamite and 1986′s No. 10 Upping St. (co-written and produced with former Clash-mate Joe Strummer) — are stone cold classics and the two after that, both also recorded with the band’s original lineup (that disbanded in 1990), are pretty damn good too (Tighten Up Vol. ’88 and Megatop Phoenix). It’s this original line-up that’ll be at Lollapallooza†and it’s those four albums that will make up their set. I saw them in NYC last month and singles like “E=MC2,” “Just Play Music,” and their theme song “Bad” still sounded fresh. Mick may look more like a mafia don than a London B-boy these days, but he’s still the guitar slinger he’s always been, and Don Letts continues to radiate cool and generally class up the proceedings. (If you don’t know who Letts is, this BBC bio hits most of his achievements.) And if the only song you know is their 1991 hit “Rush” from the B.A.D. II line-up, you probably get that one too, plus a lot more from one of the ’80s most influential bands. Wye Oak: It’s amazing how much sound two people can make. And I don’t mean just volume. Anyone can be loud. The music Jenn†Wasner and Andy Stack make together as Wye Oak is richly textured, capable of delicate beauty and sheer sonic force. Sometimes within the same song. The band’s new album, Civilian, is absolutely gorgeous and hands-down one of the year’s best. Wye Oak are also one of the best live bands around today. Spellbinding. And a bit humbling: Stack plays keyboards†with his left hand while drumming. Disappears: As Chicago natives, Disappears won’t have to travel far for this gig and should be well rested for their performance. Which is good, as they put on a fierce live show: part Detroit punk sneer and part psychedelic drone, all set to a relentless motorik beat. Their records are good, but live the band lock into a groove and don’t let up. Intense! The band’s profile was raised a bit this year when Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley became Disappears’ new drummer. That he fits right in says a lot about both parties involved. The Cars: So many bands have cribbed from The Cars’ new wave playbook you may have forgotten that they did it first. (Hear that Phoenix and The Strokes?) Ric Ocasek hasn’t been behind the driver’s seat of The Cars in 24 years, which is reason enough to see one of New Wave’s most popular bands reunited. Five more reasons: “Just What I Needed,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Good Times Roll,” “Let’s Go” and “Shake it Up.” The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: Of course a list wouldn’t be complete without at least one Brooklyn band, and in this case it’s our borough’s finest purveyors of ultra-poppy indie rock, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They used to get the “twee” tag thrown around a lot, but anyone who saw them live knew they rocked too. Their great new album, Belong, gets a lot of that live muscle on tape without sacrificing any of the tunefullness at which TPOBPAH excels. Honorable mentions go out to a few more Brooklyn bands too: there’s the over-the-top indiepop of The Drums (never has a tambourine player been so essential to a performance!); Beirut‘s orchestrated travelogue folk; and Titus Andronicus‘ strident, anthemic punk (technically from NJ but they spend a lot of time on this side of the Hudson River). Check them all out if you can find the time. Stay tuned for next week’s feature!

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