Lollapalooza returns with mix of new and veteran acts

  • The Lollapalooza music festival returns to Grant Park this weekend.

    The Lollapalooza music festival returns to Grant Park this weekend.

  • Alt-rock heroes The Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the festival's headlining bands.

    Alt-rock heroes The Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the festival's headlining bands. Associated Press

  • Headliner Jack White will perform songs from his superb solo record of 2012, "Blunderbuss."

    Headliner Jack White will perform songs from his superb solo record of 2012, "Blunderbuss." Associated Press

  • Wheeling native Haley Reinhart brings her soulful pop to the Lollapalooza stage.

    Wheeling native Haley Reinhart brings her soulful pop to the Lollapalooza stage.

 
 
Updated 8/1/2012 10:08 AM

It's here -- the weekend when thousands of suburban music fans head to Grant Park for the massive three-day Lollapalooza music festival.

Lollapalooza, which started 21 years ago as a traveling alt-rock fest, runs Friday, Aug. 3, through Sunday, Aug. 5. Headliners include veteran rock acts Black Sabbath and The Red Hot Chili Peppers along with relative newcomers The Black Keys and Jack White.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As always, though, the real story of Lollapalooza lies in the vast and eclectic mix of non-headliners -- including Wheeling's Haley Reinhart. More than 140 bands will perform, and the sounds will run the gamut from garage rock to contemporary soul to the latest in electronic music.

It can feel a little overwhelming, figuring out which bands to see during your stay. So the Daily Herald has taken time to present some highlights -- bands we think should be priorities. We'll also explore some of Lolla's nonmusic offerings. After all, people can't live by rock alone. (It would be fun to try, though!)

For a full list and schedule of acts, go to lollapalooza.com.

Headliner highlights
Two of Lolla's four headliners stand out. First is Jack White, performing solo for the first time after stints with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. He's playing behind his fantastic solo record from earlier this year, "Blunderbuss," which takes disparate sounds from pop music's past -- punk-edged guitar, pedal steel, funky keyboards -- and combines them into something new and moving. White has always been an electric live performer, so his set is an easy bet.

The other intriguing headliner is the reunited Black Sabbath. A hugely influential band, Sabbath (led by charismatic frontman/reality television star Ozzy Osbourne) helped define the hard-rock and heavy-metal genres with a series of classic albums in the 1970s. The question now is, can this aging group still bring it onstage? It'll be worth finding out. (Black Sabbath plays at 8:05 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3; Jack White plays at 8:15 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5)

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Local hero
Wheeling native Haley Reinhart captivated the suburbs with her run on "American Idol" in 2011. Now she's on the road in support of her debut album, "Listen Up!" The record features plenty of Reinhart's muscular vocals on tracks that combine danceable, contemporary pop with the rawness of classic rhythm & blues. (Reinhart performs at 1:10 p.m. Friday)

Buzz bands
A number of rising stars are part of this year's lineup:

• Tune-Yards (often written as tUnE-yArDs) is the band run by singer-songwriter-ukulele player Merrill Garbus. The music Garbus makes is offbeat, sophisticated and irresistible, anchored by her striking voice. (5 p.m. Saturday)

• Chicago-based JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound puts a post-punk edge on classic soul. "Want More," the band's 2011 release (on local label Bloodshot Records), has received rave reviews. (Noon Saturday)

• The band Alabama Shakes has turned heads with its 2012 debut, "Boys and Girls," a simmering re-creation of old-school soul and Southern rock. (4:15 p.m. Saturday)

For kids
Can't get a sitter? No problem. Kidzapalooza will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day of the festival, and it will offer music and other activities perfectly scaled for the little ones. The highlight for younger fans will most likely be an appearance by Dan Zanes, former leader of The Del Fuegos who's become the Elvis Presley of children's music. There will also be yoga, karaoke and hip-hop demonstrations.

Other stuff
Even the most ferocious music fan will need to take a break at some point during Lollapalooza. Luckily, the festival offers plenty to do between sets. Chow Town is a food area featuring many beloved Chicago eateries. The Sony Cube will give tech geeks a look at the latest digital gadgets and devices. The Uncorked Wine Lounge lets fans relax with a glass of wine while viewing performances on video screens. Plenty of other activities will be on tap, too. It will definitely pay to look around the festival once you're there.

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