The Walkmen
The Walkmen Credit: Arno Frugier

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Kid Color
Perry’s stage
Kyle “Kid Color” Woods is the rare kind of DJ who has the ambition and hustle it takes to get gigs at big clubs as well as the willing­ness and ability to satisfy the kinds of people who go to them, but who doesn’t turn into a horrible cocky asshole along the way. Woods still has his heart in the underground club scene where he came up, so though he’s a crowd-pleaser at heart he never sinks to pandering. His DJ mixes and original compositions are a happy marriage of traditionally minded house beats and indie-like melodies. Miles Raymer

Bombay Bicycle Club
Red Bull Soundstage
In 2007 I saw a new UK four-piece called Bombay Bicycle Club play at a tiny London venue that they weren’t old enough to get into any other way, and I walked away impressed by their sprightly spin on early-aughts NYC garage rock. The band has changed a lot since then, though: on last year’s A Different Kind of Fix (A&M/Octone), the tunes are cool and placid, hiding the vital-sounding rock of yore beneath an array of sleek sounds, including noodly acoustic guitar, warm synths, snippets of harp, and gentle overdubbed vocals. A Different Kind of Fix is perfectly pleasant and sometimes catchy, but its best moments are when Bombay Bicycle Club kicks out something resembling jams. Also Sat 8/4 at Bottom Lounge, sold out, 17+. Leor Galil

Credit: Anthony Pidgeon

The Devil Makes Three
PlayStation stage
California roots trio the Devil Makes Three have a nice diversity to their reconstructionist old-timey sound on their four studio albums (which front man Pete Bern­hard maintains on his two solo records)—there’s a hint of punkiness, a bit of bluesiness, and more than a little of the down-home stoniness of Jerry Garcia’s acoustic work. All these elements come together best in their live show, which they demonstrated with last year’s Stomp and Smash (Milan), a document of two 2006 performances with guest fiddler Chojo Jacques. It’s like the lazy storefront picking they’re prone to catches fire when you put them in front of a real audience instead of just imaginary old men in overalls. Also Sat 8/4 at Double Door with headliners Trampled by Turtles, sold out, 21+. Monica Kendrick

Sony stage
The Walkmen‘s breakthrough single, 2004’s Gang of Four-on-steroids banger “The Rat,” introduced the wider world to the band’s terse, concentrated postpunk fury, driven by Matt Barrick’s choppy, off-kilter drumming and topped with Hamilton Leithauser’s throaty slur. For a decade now they’ve been showing us a thing or two about cool New York swagger—a decade they celebrated this January at Metro with a tenth-anniversary party for their debut album, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Dead. On their most recent full-length, Heaven (Fat Possum), they’ve grown up, but they don’t let up. The bite has maybe softened a tiny bit, but the songs are as dense and tightly coiled as ever. Also Sun 8/5 at Lincoln Hall, sold out, 18+. Luca Cimarusti

Sigur Ros
Red Bull Soundstage
Every Sigur Ros release since their 1999 masterpiece, Agaetis Byrjun, coalesces into one big blur. Not exactly a bad blur—more like a swirling, soaring, transcendent-yet-monotonous one. The relatively focused and approachable 2005 album Takk might be the exception, but 2012’s more-of-the-same Valtari is definitely the rule. Valtari ended a three-year hiatus for Sigur Ros, putting to rest fears that Inni, a 2011 documentary and live album based on two late-2008 London shows, would be the last we’d see of this spectacular Icelandic band and their stunning multimedia show. Though their Lollapalooza set certainly should’ve been scheduled for sundown, Sigur Ros will be no less emotionally devastating in the late afternoon. Mara Shalhoup

Amadou & Mariam
PlayStation stage
Since taking to the international stage in the late 90s, blind Malian couple Amadou & Mariam have consistently explored fusions of their homeland’s traditional music with other sounds, always with good results. On their latest album, Folila (Because/Nonesuch), they stumble for the first time. The couple cut two versions of the record—an electric one in New York, which includes guest stars from the U.S., the UK, and France, and an acoustic one in Bamako—but instead of releasing them together, they combined them into a single album under the watchful eye of producer Marc-Antoine Moreau. The hybrid actually works pretty well, but some of the outside contributions—the hyperactive falsetto of Scissors Sisters singer Jake Shears, a horrible aerobics-worthy chorus by Ebony Bones—derail the songs. Luckily Amadou & Mariam are on their own here; that’s how they always sound best. Peter Margasak

At the Drive-In
Red Bull Soundstage
In 2001, when At the Drive-In called it quits six months after the release of Relationship of Command, it seemed the end had come mainly because vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez wanted to be a Pink Floyd laser light show and lead guitarist Jim Ward wanted to be college radio. Their respective bands, the Mars Volta and Sparta, have both succeeded—the former, though out-there and gutsy occasionally to the point of excess, has won a damn Grammy—but neither has been as influential as At the Drive-In, whose experimental posthardcore perfectly balanced the elements they’ve been pursuing separately. Maybe everybody involved finally realized that—or maybe they’re just in it for the payday, I don’t know. Either way, this reunion means thousands of fans squeezing back into tight black In/Casino/Out T-shirts, which might fit a little tighter a decade later. More important, it means that fan favorite “Rascuache“—its raw, fractured, emotional-but-not-emo hardcore held together by Bixler-Zavala’s rousing vocals—will be performed live once again, this time to thousands of thirtysomethings dying to sing along to every lyric. Kevin Warwick

7:00-8:15 Zeds Dead The worldwide lingua franca of electronic dance music in 2012 is the wobble—aka drastic rhythmic modulation of a synth tone, a technique popularized in the first wave of dubstep but since adopted by genres far and wide. The approximate auditory equivalent of a strobe light, the wobble will no doubt be blasting from the Perry’s tent—and in a few cases from the bigger stages—throughout the weekend, but you’ll rarely hear it deployed as dexterously as it is by Toronto production/DJ duo Zeds Dead. Their music has a surface resemblance to American rave-style dubstep, but also touches on a range of influences, including video-­game theme songs and (in keeping with the Pulp Fiction reference in the duo’s name) vintage action-movie soundtracks. Also Sat 8/4 at Congress Theater, 18+. Miles Raymer Perry’s stage

Credit: Jo McCaughney

Jack White
Red Bull Soundstage
In the White Stripes, Jack White worked masterfully with scale, building huge sounds from just one guitar and a drum kit in an ever-shifting balance. After taking a five-year break from being a front man—in the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, he’s just another member of the band—he plays mad scientist again on his first solo album, Blunderbuss (Third Man/Columbia). In some ways it’s White’s take on classic rock, with more conventional full-band instrumentation on most of the songs—though I don’t know if there’s a precedent for the lineup of acoustic guitar, clarinet, and Wurlitzer on “Love Interruption.” His guitar solos are still weird, thankfully, twisted by digital pedals whose tonal fuckery makes his ax sound like it’s been sucking helium. Blunderbuss doesn’t pack the punch of the White Stripes, but White’s songwriting is just as strong and forceful, his singing is better, his range is broader, and his cover of Little Willie John’s “I’m Shakin’” is so much fun I could listen to it all day. Peter Margasak

Next: The afterparties you can still get into.