Headstash’s Lollapalooza 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 Headstash Magazine‘s Hannah Epstein.
This year’s Lollapalooza schedule has something for everyone. From Eminem to Pretty Lights and My Morning Jacket to Deadmau5, the lineup represents some of the most soul-wrenching, hard-rocking, dance-inspiring bands performing today. Any festival that offers hip-hop, rock, electronica, folk, soul and children’s music at the same time is one that is sure to entertain any music fan. At Headstash, we love all kinds of music, but have a special passion for jam bands and the electronica genre. Whether you’re an old-school Deadhead, an electronica enthusiast or a casual fan that has never even heard Phish, these are some amazing bands you shouldn’t miss: Pretty Lights As DJ-created music continues to rise in popularity, Derek Vincent Smith, aka Pretty Lights, has risen to the top of the genre. Anyone with a laptop can claim they’re an electronica artist, but Pretty Lights is a master of mixing beats, remixing both contemporary and classic songs and creating unbelievably energetic live performances. Pretty Lights approaches his compositions in a uniquely creative way, priding himself in his ability to let his samples “speak to each other” rather than layering beats on top of one another. The music community has caught on to his talent and ability to create a rousing dance party with each show. In the few years he’s been on the scene, Pretty Lights has gone from playing small clubs to headlining major American music festivals and his six albums have been downloaded over a million times from his website. Pretty Lights also includes a live drummer in his shows, and the combination of his incredible producer artistry with the heavy organic beats creates an infectious party that Lollapalooza attendees will not be able to resist. Keller Williams A staple of the jam band scene, Keller Williams is a virtuosic guitarist who is able to tie in numerous genres with each of his performances. Whether he is playing solo, often with the use of a live recording system that allows him to loop his own sounds, or with one of his many ensembles, Keller always puts on an incredible live show. Keller’s influences range from folk to rock to bluegrass, and you can hear all of these styles in his own compositions and live improvisation. He is also unpredictable – often times dancing barefoot in circles, whistling or humming goofily in the middle of songs. His passion for the music is contagious. It’s clear that he loves what he does, and it is hard to resist dancing and singing along with him. At Lollapalooza, Keller will be performing songs from his latest album, “Kids,” which is geared towards children. It will be exciting to see how Keller adapts these songs for his set, which typically includes more “adult” themes such as not-so-subtle drug references in “It’s A Plant”. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals What makes Grace Potter and the Nocturnals so exciting for music fans is their ability to not only craft beautiful and catchy songs, but also to arrange them differently for live performances. At their shows, the band leaves room for the individual musicians to improvise and experiment on the music, which creates a unique experience every time. The band has been a mainstay of the festival scene for over five years, performing at events like Mountain Jam in New York and All Good in West Virginia. Their style is a mixture of soul vocals, rock and roll instrumentals and the jam band approach to live performance. Blending their own aesthetic sensibilities with the groove of the song and the vibe of the audience, The Nocturnals have quickly developed an impressive following. Potter’s voice is powerful and instantly recognizable. In 2010, the band released a sexy music video for their hit single, “Paris,” which has gotten the attention of the mainstream. But it’s on stage where Grace Potter excels, as she is able to electrify the crowd with her powerful voice and magnetic stage presence. Ween Formed in 1984, Ween is an alternative rock band known for their idiosyncratic and quirky approach to music making. Founded by fictional brothers Gene and Dean Ween, aka Aaron Freeman and Mickey Mechiondo respectively, the band injects absurdity into their songs, which range from the beach-inspired “Ocean Man” to the reggae-themed “Roses are Free” (which Phish fans might recognize). Ween is difficult to characterize within a specific genre. They are more than a frivolous joke band despite songs like “Spinal Meningitis,” but humor is certainly an integral part of who they are. While their lyrics are often nonsensical, the band has a whimsical and fun core and consistently put on wacky live shows. Expect some extraordinary musicianship and funky improvisation as well as a down-home good time. My Morning Jacket Headliner My Morning Jacket is one of the best rock bands touring this summer. While MMJ may not be the prototypical jam band, noodling around on stage, improvising within songs and playing a whole new setlist every night, the jam scene has embraced the Southern rockers. My Morning Jacket consistently play with passion and create epic soundscapes, with Jim James’ vocals adding an inimitable edge to their sound. Over their career they have played everywhere from Saturday Night Live to Madison Square Garden and with the Boston Pops. While their latest album, “Circuital,” is a beautiful collection of indie/alternative rock tracks, their live performances take their songs to another level. The album marks a return to form for the band after some independent ventures, and their shows this summer to promote it have been some of their best in years. This clip from their 2004 performance at Bonnaroo was named by Relix Magazine as one of the 50 best concerts of all time and all of their festival sets are particularly special. Ultimately, no matter the genre, good music is good music. While we love a great jam band show, what we really care about is the music and the community our favorite bands create for us to connect with them and each other. On that note, make sure you catch The Smith Westerns, Grouplove, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, all up-and-coming indie bands who should put on fantastic shows. Keep jamming!