Courtesy of Wicker Park Fest
Perhaps you’re spending this weekend resting up (and drying off) in between Pitchfork and Lollapalooza. On the other hand, if you’re hungering for more live music in the indie/alternative vein, you’re in luck.
The annual Wicker Park Fest, taking place this Saturday and Sunday, boasts a line-up of acts that put other street fests to shame. With music on three stages and 40 diverse bands, there’s plenty to choose from.
Here are our recommendations, in chronological order:
SATURDAY JULY 27
Showing that there’s more to Nashville’s music scene than the country music industrial complex, Leagues deliver a mix of dream pop and anthemic rock marked by martial drum rolls, crunching guitars and Thad Cockrell’s pealing voice. 7:00pm, Center Stage
It’s no surprise Toronto guitarist Afie Jurvanen’s music is laid back and melodic, considering the fact that he was once a member of Feist's band. 7:45pm, North Stage
After forming in 1980 as a hardcore punk outfit, the group diversified its sound with cowpunk and psychedelic nuances, leading to major label attention and a call from Kurt Cobain to play alongside Nirvana during the band’s infamous MTV Unplugged session. The songs “Lake of Fire” and “Plateau,” made famous by Nirvana’s performance, are in fact Meat Puppets tunes. Go to hear those and their chart-topping “Backwater.” 8:30 pm, Center Stage
Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion have maintained elite exposure for their xylophone-heavy, retro-tipped indie pop that is as youthful feeling as it is artistically mature. Singer Follin’s cherub alto leads a pack of energetic sing-a-longs on songs like “Go Outside” and “Most Wanted.” 8:45 pm, South Stage
With elements of world music, European gypsy folk and art rock, this five-piece band achieves its impressive modern busker sound with a heavy arsenal of instrumentation centered around frontman Honus Honus’ piano. Make way for the crews loading in the guitars, horns, Moogs and various percussion instruments, including good ol’ pots and pans. 9:00 pm, North Stage
Go early for: Pet Lions (3:25pm, North Stage): Chicago’s sensitive indie band plays fields of dream pop borrowing influences from Tears for Fears and The Kinks.
SUNDAY JULY 28
A storied veteran of Memphis’ indie music scene, Greg Cartwright leads the Reigning Sound through a rough-hewn mix of garage rock, punk and soul that has garnered big-name fans including Steve Van Zandt and the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. Sunday at 7:45pm, North Stage
Part circus, high school drum line, pep rally and cover band, this 30-piece outfit comprised of Chicago instrumentalists knows how to throw a party. Music ranges from snake charming originals to rollicking versions of vintage TV theme songs, all amplified from speakers attached to members’ headwear. 8:45 pm, Center Stage
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
A descendent of Elvis Costello and Billy Bragg and a precursor for Chicago’s Archie Powell & the Exports, Ted Leo has been deeply rooted in a prolific and popular solo career since his previous band Chisel broke up in the ‘90s. Expect a high-energy rock set before Leo pares it down with Aimee Mann under new songwriting project #BOTH, playing this September’s Hideout Block Party. 8:45 pm, South Stage
Both a heartwarming survival story and a torrid performer, cult legend Erickson helped pioneer psychedelic rock in the mid-1960s as a member of the 13th Floor Elevators before descending into a morass of drug, legal, and psychiatric problems. He’s made a gradual comeback over the past ten years or so, and a show here last year found Erickson focused and ferocious as he and a killer band mixed bluesy garage rock and horror movie themes. 9:00 pm, North Stage
Go early for: Treasure Fleet (5:35pm, North Stage): Chicago rock super group featuring members of The Arrivals, The Lawrence Arms and Smoking Popes.