The Black Keys (Friday, August 6, 6pm, Budweiser Stage)
The Black Keys are an Ohio duo who specialize in funky, moody, murky blues-rock tunes. Frontman Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney's brand of edgy garage rock has been more popular in the U.K. than in their home country, but they're a band well worth discovering. Plus, they're also one of the most consistent groups in contemporary rock -- you can expect a new album from them just about every two years. Their latest, Brothers, came out in May.
Essential Song: "When the Lights Go Out" (Purchase/Download)
The Cribs (Sunday, August 8, 2:00pm, South Stage)
Hailing from the U.K., the Cribs produce indie-influenced garage rock that has evolved in complexity over the course of four albums. The band initially was comprised of the Jarman brothers (Gary, Ross and Ryan), but they added a high-profile member in 2008: legendary former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. Ignore the Ignorant is the Cribs' most recent record, but the band's best album remains 2007's Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever.
Essential Song: "Men's Needs" (Purchase/Download)
Drive-By Truckers (Friday, August 6, 3pm, PlayStation Stage)
Critical darlings who haven't found the mainstream audience they deserve, the Athens rock/country band Drive-By Truckers will be making their second appearance at Lollapalooza. Unlike some bands that have a principal songwriter/frontman, DBT boast three singers, although they're led by guitarists Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. As they demonstrated on this year's The Big To-Do, the Truckers are wizards at crafting empathetic, rousing short-story songs about people struggling through hard times.
Essential Song: "Daddy Learned to Fly" (Purchase/Download)
Green Day (Saturday, August 7, 7:45pm, South Stage)
Green Day will be in the midst of an August North American tour when they stop off at Lollapalooza. After looking like their creative and commercial spark had died out at the beginning of the 21st century, the Berkeley trio have revitalized themselves with their recent concept albums, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. This will be the first time in 16 years that Green Day have rocked the Lollapalooza stage.
Essential Song: "Know Your Enemy" (Purchase/Download)
The New Pornographers (Friday, August 6, 4pm, Budweiser Stage)
Indie-pop and studio rock come together in the songs of the New Pornographers, the brainchild of Canadian songwriter Carl Newman. But Newman doesn't do it alone -- New Pornographers albums also include songwriting contributions from the acerbic Dan Bejar (of Destroyer) and guest vocals from Neko Case. Few bands deliver such insanely hummable tunes as the New Pornographers do.
Essential Song: "The Laws Have Changed" (Purchase/Download)
Social Distortion (Saturday, August 7, 5:45pm, South Stage)
The punk-rock band Social Distortion haven't released a studio album since 2004's Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll, but they remain one of the most influential bands from the punk revival of the '90s. Singles like "Ball and Chain" and their cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" demonstrated the band's love of punk, rockabilly and old-school country, but their gift for melodic accessibility also made them favorites among alt-rock audiences as well. Amazingly, this will be their first Lollapalooza appearance.
Essential Song: "Ball and Chain" (Purchase/Download)
Soundgarden (Sunday, August 8, 8pm, South Stage)
Soundgarden broke up in 1997, so this Lollapalooza appearance -- their first festival show since reuniting at the beginning of 2010 -- will be a much-anticipated performance. Soundgarden performed at Lollapalooza back in the '90s when it was still a traveling tour, so their appearance at this year's event helps link the festival back to its early roots.
Essential Song: "Black Hole Sun" (Purchase/Download)
The Strokes (Friday, August 6, 8:30pm, Budweiser Stage)
Soundgarden are the attention-getting comeback band at this year's Lollapalooza, but don't forget about the Strokes, who will be making their first appearance at the festival. The band haven't put out a record since 2006's First Impressions of Earth, which was followed by a hiatus and generally-ignored solo albums. Last year, the Strokes reunited to work on material for their fourth album, and they hope to put out the disc in 2011.
Essential Song: "Juicebox" (Purchase/Download)
Wolfmother (Sunday, August 8, 6pm, South Stage)
Essential Song: "New Moon Rising" (Purchase/Download)
It's not confirmed, but Perry Farrell hinted that it was at least a possibility that his band would play at some point during this year's festival. If Jane's Addiction do perform, it would be their first Lollapalooza appearance since adding new bassist Duff McKagan after the departure of Eric Avery earlier this year. Jane's have been talking about making a new album, their first since 2003's Strays, but by all reports they're still very early on in that process.
Essential Song: "Mountain Song" (Purchase/Download)