When bands collide: how to decide

Jeremy Gordon

Lollapalooza lumbers into town next weekend, and as always, you’re not going to be able to see every band you want to see. Here’s our helpful guide to minimizing the Lollapalooza blues and navigating every conflict to maximize your fun.

Fleet Foxes vs. Asher Roth vs. Crystal Castles (Friday, 5:00 – 6:00)

It comes down to whether or not you want to violently dance (Crystal Castles), sit on the ground and stare at the sky (Fleet Foxes), or hit on college girls (Asher Roth). I endorse all three, but if you’ve been indulging in squirt-bottled wine, it’s probably best to go to Crystal Castles and try to make a hipster love connection.

Andrew Bird vs. Of Montreal (Friday, 7:00 – 8:00)

Bird’s brand of tranquil orchestra pop should play nicely as the sun begins to set and the temperature begins to cool down. If your night needs a little more excitement than tweed jackets and feet shuffling, Of Montreal’s stage show is certain to please: Frontman Kevin Barnes constantly brings the weird, from dancers covered in cold paint to giant lobster claws attached to his arm. They seem like the summer festival pick – if Barnes busts out the epic “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal,” the twelve-minute psychedelic train ride through mental breakdown and cathartic release, it’ll get you going more than any of Bird’s ditties will.

TV on the Radio vs. Lykke Li (Saturday, 6:30 – 7:30)

TV on the Radio twitches and jerks their way through their fuzzy alt-rock-cum-Afro-jazz discography, making songs like “Wolf Like Me” and “Staring At The Sun” even more intense in concert. On the other hand, Lykke Li is really pretty. The Swedish pop star loves to self-flagellate as she sings, only making it more serious when she’s telling you how much she loves you, baby. Songs like “Little Bit” and “Breaking It Up” were some of 2008’s best . If you make her your pick, you’ll see why Perez Hilton as well as Pitchfork Media are crazy about her.

The Raveonettes vs. Dan Deacon (Sunday, 3:30 – 4:30)

Other than serving as the impromptu soundtrack to “Super Mario World,” a live show is the only proper context for listening to Dan Deacon’s chirpy electronic music. You’ll lose your friends in the crowd once people start jumping up and down when Deacon starts squealing like a chipmunk in heat. The Raveonettes do a nice job of appropriating the Jesus and Mary Chain for modern audiences, all clad in black and flashing doe eyes at each other, but Deacon manages to get his crowds dancing and unafraid to have fun, which is something you just can’t rag on.

Neko Case vs. Vampire Weekend (Sunday, 4:30 – 5:30)

It’s two types of cover artists: Neko Case recalls old-timey country with her new-timey alt-country, and Vampire Weekend plunge right into the heart of traditional African music for their laid-back songs about being rich. Do you prefer Case’s soulful mourn or Vampire Weekend’s needling Caribbean guitar lines that get the coeds moving? Personally, Case is too magnificent a presence in concert to miss. She’ll grab you by the horns and lead you through the Dust Bowl like a tornado possessed, her backing band barely able to play behind her without sounding wimpy. You will feel whole again.

Lou Reed vs. Deerhunter vs. Snoop Dogg (Sunday, 6:30 – 7:30)

Deerhunter will get your head swirling with their bass-thick rhythm section and their guitars dripping with pedal effects over singer Bradford Cox’s ethereal moaning, and Snoop Dogg will get the crowd moving if he has to get down from the stage and personally get everyone high, but come on! It’s Lou Reed! Even if he throws a temper tantrum when people are talking up front, he’s still going to say words like “baby” and “heroin” and make you travel back to 1960’s New York, all hopped up on pills and trying to feel fashionable. It might not be the Velvet Underground, but the voice is still there.

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