JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound members (from left): Billy Bungeroth, Ben Taylor, JC Brooks, Kevin Marks, and Andy Rosenstein

Lollapalooza 2012 may have some big headliners scheduled, including Black Sabbath and Red Hot Chili Peppers, but the fest is also an opportunity to check out rising talent. Among the newbies this year is one of my favorite local acts, the neo-soul group JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, playing their first Lolla this Saturday.

The band’s bassist, Ben Taylor, told me in a phone interview Tuesday that one of his goals at this year’s fest is to “bum a light from Jack White.” Taylor and his four bandmates (including JC Brooks, whom we featured in our June music preview) made a name for themselves after releasing their sophomore album, Want More, earlier this year. Lolla is a big step for the lively, retrofitted group—especially because Uptown Sound does not necessarily fit the fest’s traditional “rock” rubric.

It takes a powerful band to capture the attention of a midday crowd—the group plays at noon on the Sony stage on a steaming day (the forecast says a high of 97 degrees)—but Taylor is ready: “Now that we’ve gotten here, we’re going to come barreling out of the gate,” he said. “It’s a new audience and we want to show all of our sides.”

With frontman Brooks, guitarist Billy Bungeroth, keyboardist Andy Rosenstein, and drummer Kevin Marks—plus area musicians JoVia Armstrong, Chris Neil, Leni Glenn on percussion, tenor sax, and baritone sax, respectively—Taylor promises some new, hard-hitting dance material, along with their well-drilled favorites. I’m hoping their funky rendition of Wilco’s I’m Trying to Break Your Heart is among them.


Photograph: Paul Natkin