Lollapalooza 2012 will be held August 3-5 in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. Hip-hop, indie-rock and dance music are all heavily featured, but good ol' rock 'n' roll makes its presence felt as well. I've put together (in alphabetical order) a list of the 10 must-see rock bands at this year's Lollapalooza. But be warned: There are some schedule conflicts in this list, so plan wisely.
The Afghan Whigs (Friday, August 3, 4:15pm, Red Bull Soundstage)
The alternative-rock sound of the 1990s tends to get labeled as grunge, but the truth is bands of all shapes and sizes were making great music during that period that didn't sound anything like Nirvana. Take the Afghan Whigs, who were critical darlings thanks to their mid-'90s records, Gentlemen and Black Love. Frontman Greg Dulli fused soul and rock, often singing frankly about his dark romantic desires. The group broke up around the turn of the century, but the central trio -- Dulli, guitarist Rick McCollum and bassist John Curley -- reformed last year and are now doing some shows. The Afghan Whigs never played Lollapalooza back in the day, so it's great to finally have them part of the festival.
Alabama Shakes (Saturday, August 4, 4:15pm, Bud Light)
Alabama Shakes put out their first full-length record, Boys & Girls, earlier this year, and while the album is a little hit-or-miss, its lead single, "Hold On," is a real scorcher. Plus, this retro-rock quartet have made their reputation on their live shows, so this appearance is a must-see.
At the Drive-In (Sunday, August 5, 6:00pm, Red Bull Soundstage)
At the Drive-In closed up shop shortly after putting out 2000's Relationship of Command. But this year, the hardcore unit have been doing shows, including Coachella in April. The band members keep insisting that they're not going to be doing a new album -- Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez are still busy with the Mars Volta -- so if you want to see these guys, you'd better not wait around.
The Black Angels (Friday, August 3, 2:15pm, Bud Light)
Dark, formidable, hallucinatory, the Black Angels' music draws comparison to the Doors and the Velvet Underground. This Austin quartet have yet to break into the mainstream, but their druggy, heavy songs make them a great under-the-radar secret and definitely a band worth checking out.
The Black Keys (Friday, August 3, 8:30pm, Red Bull Soundstage)
Quite possibly the hottest rock band in the U.S., the Black Keys followed up their platinum-selling Brothers with El Camino, which has already produced the hit singles "Gold on the Ceiling" and "Lonely Boy." But they're not just popular: They're great. El Camino was one of 2011's best rock albums, and they've been widely praised for their ability to bring back soulfulness and authenticity to rock 'n' roll -- and become a success in the process.
Black Sabbath (Friday, August 3, 8:05pm, Bud Light)
Lollapalooza is known for its reunion shows. (Soundgarden got back together and played the 2010 festival.) This year's big comeback attraction will be Black Sabbath, the iconic metal band that will see three of its four original members taking the stage. (Drummer Bill Ward won't be participating.) The band's legacy stretches far beyond metal groups, though: Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan has long been a vocal fan of the group.
Franz Ferdinand (Saturday, August 4, 6:15pm, Bud Light)
In 2004, Franz Ferdinand jumped onto the scene with their cocky, self-titled debut album and its strutting single "Take Me Out." From the beginning, this Glasgow band have mixed indie-rock, postpunk and even dance elements into their sound, which might have reached its peak with 2005's You Could Have It So Much Better. (The lead single, "Do You Want To," was another firecracker.) Since then, the quartet have struggled to remain as popular in the States, but their fourth album is expected next year.
The Gaslight Anthem (Sunday, August 5, 4:45pm, Google Play)
Can the Gaslight Anthem make the transition from cult favorite to mainstream staple with their new record Handwritten? The first single, "45," is such a lively blast of pure rock romance that you sure hope so. Bringing together punk and classic rock, the band (led by frontman Brian Fallon) will be making their second Lollapalooza appearance.
Red Hot Chili Peppers (Saturday, August 4, 8:00pm, Red Bull Soundstage)
Red Hot Chili Peppers may not have had the out-of-the-box success with their recent album, I'm With You, that they've enjoyed with previous discs, but it's a strong, consistently melodic collection. (Plus, the first single, "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie," was incredibly catchy -- and a big hit, to boot.) The Chili Peppers have three decades of tunes to draw from for their Lollapalooza appearance, so it's good they're going to have a two-hour set.
Jack White (Sunday, August 5, 8:15pm, Red Bull Soundstage)
Bouncing between elegant piano-driven rockers, soulful ballads and frenzied guitar workouts, Blunderbuss offers all the sides of Jack White we've come to expect from the prolific 37-year-old artist. Putting the White Stripes in his rearview mirror, White will lean heavy on his new record for this show, although you should expect a few nuggets from his old band as well.