Lollapalooza's headliners are widely rumored to be in place, featuring, as usual, plenty of acts to scratch the nostalgia itch, including Green Day, a reunited Soundgarden, and even The Strokes...all of which sounds fine, if considerably less exhilarating than it would've, say, five to ten years ago. The real standouts will be Lady Gaga — a somewhat unusual choice, given Lolla's reputation as a tribute to "alternative rock" — and Arcade Fire, who would likely provide my (and, I suspect, many others') only reason to fork over the considerable entry fee, even if I'd prefer the intimacy of a theater as a venue. Flaming Lips, MGMT, Phoenix, Yeasayer, and Dirty Projectors are other names being bandied about as potential performers. The official lineup will be announced in early April.
Meanwhile, Pitchfork, generally considered Lolla's cheaper, hipper alternative, boasts an impressive '90s-era reunion of its own in headliner Pavement, likely the reason that three-day passes to the fest are already sold out (tickets went on sale last month). Co-headliners Modest Mouse and LCD Soundsystem round out the impressive bill, but, as with the Lollapalooza lineup, they just don't stir my excitement the way they might've a few summers ago. Even with solid backers Broken Social Scene, El-P, Panda Bear, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and St. Vincent, I just don't think I'm sold. This could, of course, have less to do with the lineups themselves than with me progressively inching out of my 20s; as much as I love music outdoors, "summer festival" is becoming increasingly synonymous with "hot, tiring, and painful," for me.
Which is why, lame as it might sound, I may actually be most excited about the Ravinia Festival this summer. With Steve Martin (performing from last year's stellar bluegrass record, The Crow), The Swell Season, and Buena Vista Social Club among this year's acts, you can't beat lying on a picnic blanket — and enjoying the food and drinks you can bring in from home — while rocking out. And the Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays series in Millennium Park (featuring She & Him, Kid Sister, and The Thermals, among others) has the added bonus of being free. Woo, grownup summer!